From the monthly archives: July 2009

Fletcher maintains an email listserv for students (mostly) and staff (sometimes) to use for unofficial matters.  The emails’ subjects range from global injustice to lost coffee mugs, and everything in between.

Last weekend’s hot topic was a video that received worldwide attention:  Jill and Kevin’s wedding, featuring a joyous dance down the aisle by the bride and groom and their attendants.

You may have seen it (and I’m aware that there’s a shelf life for distribution of viral videos).  But even if you are a Youtube devotee, you may not have  known that one of our own 2009 Fletcher grads, Barbi Rodriguez, was among the dancing bridesmaids (first duo of sunglassed bridesmaids, on the right).  And you may not have known about the international attention that the video received, such as in Britain’s Daily Mail Online, or the Daily Telegraph of Australia, where the contestants on Dancing with the Stars will replicate the dance.  Not to mention that the wedding party was invited to recreate the procession for the Today Show (a U.S. morning news show).

I asked Barbi whether she was a willing dancer, and what her reaction was, and here’s what she wrote:  “I was definitely a willing dancer — we all were!  And we all assisted with the choreography, though it was Jill’s (the bride’s) idea, and she was the primary choreographer.   As far as my reaction goes — I am amazed and thrilled that the wedding video has touched so many people.  I know Jill and Kevin are so appreciative of all the love and support from their family and friends, and from around the world.  I am also grateful for the chance to take part in this surprisingly global celebration of love and friendship.”

So, for those few people who haven’t yet seen the video, here are Fletcher alum Barbi Rodriguez and her friends at Jill and Kevin’s wedding:


If I were ever unsure of what to do on a weekend day, there’s a website that I know will provide an unconventional selection: Johnny’s List of Weird Boston Events.  In truth, not every listed event is “weird,” which makes the list even more useful, particularly since Johnny includes many free-of-charge options.


I decided to keep myself busy this weekend, and there was plenty out there to choose from.  I was off on Friday, so I’ll start my recounting on Thursday.

After Thursday’s Admissions Office retreat, I threw together a quick dinner before Paul (my husband) and I took Kayla (my 15-year-old daughter) to see the visiting tour of Rent.  Paul and I had seen it way back in the day, but it was fun to go with Kayla.  All the more so because the show was sold out, with (it appeared) most seats occupied by local or out-of-towner “Rentheads.”  We shared a row with a group of friends from Italy, and they sang along with most of the songs.

Friday was a mix of get-togethers with friends, and chores — not worth describing in detail.

On Saturday, I started the day with a bike ride along the Charles River, starting in Cambridge and winding through Boston and Watertown.  At 2:00, Paul and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts.  I had wanted to see the Greene and Greene exhibition, but we also really enjoyed “Seeing Songs.”

After an early dinner back at home, we set off with Kayla to see our newest local sports team, the Boston Breakers.  This is the second go-round for a women’s professional soccer league, and the Breakers have found a loyal following both times.  A fun place to watch sports, and great to see the amazing Kristine Lilly in action.

A bit more of a leisurely pace on Sunday.  Paul and I left our sleeping teenagers and headed to Revere Beach, for an early morning of reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee in front of the sea.  We’re fans of Revere, which is an urban oasis, accessible by T (subway).  I enjoy both the early morning atmosphere, with families and walkers speaking a dozen different languages, and the afternoon scene, characterized by Brazilians playing soccer on the sand.

Boston’s compact size makes it perfect for pursuing multiple activities in a weekend.  I don’t always choose to dash from place to place, but I enjoy the knowledge that, if that’s what I want to do, I’ll have lots of options.


I asked Ian Pilarczyk, the associate director of Fletcher’s LL.M. program, to send me an update on how the year went.  Here, he reflects on a few lovely days in France, during the program’s “capstone.”

From May 5th to 10th the LL.M. program held its inaugural Talloires Capstone at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France. The swine flu had been the lead news item for the past few weeks, which was not the most auspicious beginning to our trip.  On the plus side, it resulted in Logan, Heathrow, and Geneva airports all being unusually quiet, and in much less competition for space in the overhead bins!  We were virtually the only tourists in the usually-bustling resort town of Talloires — even more striking on a holiday weekend that coincided with Victory in Europe Day — which just added to the spirit of tranquility.

The Tufts European Center is located in a former priory, dating from the 11th century, nestled against the backdrop of the Alps and Lake Annecy in Talloires, France.  Talloires had been described to me in enthusiastic terms, and as an admirer of Paul Cezanne I was familiar with his 1896 masterpiece, “Lac d’Annecy.”  I have always been struck how reproductions of Cezanne’s painting cannot do justice to the rich blue hues he used in that work; I was likewise struck that, despite the superlatives I had heard, the area’s beauty almost defies description.  It is eminently fitting that the Talloires Declaration, an attempt to facilitate environmental sustainability in higher education, was formulated there at the behest of Tufts University in 1990.  Talloires and Lake Annecy are, in a word, bucolic.

The Talloires Capstone was designed as a time for reflection coupled with opportunities for discussion, networking, celebrating, and relaxing.  Our proximity to Geneva allowed us to tap into Fletcher’s rich network of alumni and friends working in international organizations.  We invited eight distinguished guests to join us, including Gian Luca Burci, Legal Counsel to the World Health Organization (who had many interesting things to say about the developing pandemic) and Alejandro Jara, Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization.  The opportunity our students had to engage in informal discussion with experts — from the European Court of Human Rights, Paris II, the Swiss-Africa Business Roundtable, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner, and other agencies — was one of the defining characteristics of the Capstone experience.

During one of the free-time blocks in the afternoon on the last day, a group of hardy students went paragliding; they described it in glowing terms as a life-long memory.  I was reminded of a poem by Canadian poet F.R. Scott, “Three Days in October,” that he wrote as he watched a trio of students parachuting down on McGill’s campus during its sesquicentennial celebrations; he described them as moving “with swinging skill/and speaking no language/save the language of motion.”  His poem’s conclusion provides the most fitting end to this blog, as it captures my feelings as I watched Fletcher’s LL.M. students (from a safe distance):

As they floated down

we were all lifted up.

Many thanks to the sixteen students in our inaugural class for being such an inspired, and inspiring, class.  I look forward to welcoming them into Fletcher’s alumni family.  Onward and upward!


I have just a few minutes before my admissions pals will arrive at my house for our off-campus retreat.  While we won’t be far from Fletcher at our “Conference Center,” my living room provides a casual setting to do some planning for the coming year.

This being the Fletcher Admissions staff, much of our pre-retreat planning was focused on food.  Who would bring what?  We tried to convince Jeff (the new guy) that he should be contributing expensive gourmet treats for the rest of us, but in the end we settled on a menu of pastries for breakfast, and salads, bread, and cheese for lunch.

For those trying to reach us, the Office will reopen tomorrow, when the staff will be energized and filled with new ideas.


I received  a welcome but surprising call from one of our students the other day.  Anne is sweltering away in Houston, while I’m enjoying the Boston area’s cool but lovely summer.  She didn’t really call to discuss the weather, though.  Her true intention was to let me know about a trip that she and fellow students in the International Business Club are planning.  Billed as the First International Business Trip, they’re going to Dubai!

The trip will take place over spring break next March, and will be open to all Fletcher students, whether or not they are focusing on business.  To meet the multiple needs of differently focused students, the club is planning meetings with both business execs and policy makers, so Dubai’s extraordinary growth can be viewed through a private or public sector lens.

If you’re one of our incoming students, you’ll be able to gather details at the Student Organization Fair in September.  I’ll make a mental note to ask the students to send travel tales to the blog while they’re away.

I should also note that, though this is the first student-led trip of this sort, international business has been an integral part of Fletcher’s curriculum for, roughly, forever.  In recent years, though, particularly with the addition of the MIB program, the group of students with a business focus has grown in size and energy.  A plus for everyone in the community!


We’re super happy to be fully staffed again.  Just this Tuesday, Jeff Carbone joined us as the new Associate Director, filling the position that Kate left earlier in the spring.  He brings experience both in admissions and corporate recruitment, and we’re excited to add him to the team.

Jeff has spent most of his first Fletcher week dashing from office to office, learning what everyone does around here.  (My turn to talk with him comes in about 10 minutes.)  He’ll soon be up to speed, and you could be hearing from him if you correspond with the office, or meeting him if you visit.

Welcome, Jeff!


Along the way, I’ve written about (or, at least, mentioned) lots of different student activities, but somehow haven’t much touched on one of the oldest and most established of them:  The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs.  The Forum, Fletcher’s student-run scholarly journal, has been producing two new issues each year since 1975, and it’s a draw for our many students with an interest in research, writing, journalism, and the business of journalism, among other areas.

On the Forum’s site, you can see both the current issue and archives going back to 2000, as well as a special issue dedicated to the spring 2008 Fletcher conference on Edward R. Murrow and public diplomacy.

Fletcher is also the home of Murrow’s library, giving him an unusually current place in our community.


When I sit down to write for the blog, I tend not to worry about whether I’m repeating something readers could find elsewhere on the Fletcher web site.  I figure that we all choose what to read, and I’m happy to offer up anything that seems relevant, even if you could track it down with a few additional clicks.

But for those of you who don’t want to wait for me to post information about the Fletcher community, here are a few spots where you can do your own news gathering.

First, there are some fresh internship-related blogs at Fletcher Reflections.

Next, for the Facebook crowed, is the Fletcher Facebook page.

And last, all you Twitterers can follow us there, too.

Of course, none of those other sites will provide application tips in the fall!  So continue to check the Admissions Blog for the information that will help you submit the strongest possible Fletcher application.


Throughout the last two years, I’ve written occasionally about Erica Murray, a beloved Fletcher student, who died of leukemia this past winter.

The member of the community most affected was probably Josh Newton, a MALD graduate and PhD student who had been Erica’s partner.  Trying to grow something positive out of his loss, Josh has planned a major tribute.  He’ll be raising funds and awareness — about leukemia and the bone marrow registry — while he pursues some strenuous travel!

You can read about Josh’s original plan, as well as his day-to-day reports, on his website.  The Fletcher community is cheering him on!  Lots of support in Josh’s guesbook from current and former Fletcherites.


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