From the monthly archives: August 2009
One last little note about my vacation travels. On the flight from Boston to London, I spotted Fletcher Professor John Hammock, who was on his way to Oxford. Two weeks later, there he was again, on our return flight. I was a zillion rows behind him on the way home and didn’t have a chance to say hello — though our flight was so thoroughly delayed that I could have shared my entire life’s story!
But seeing Prof. Hammock on the plane reminded me that, many years ago, I found myself on a flight from California with Professor Bill Moomaw. No one ever wants to talk on a red-eye, but we had a chance to chat on a connecting flight from Pittsburgh (or was it Philadelphia?) to Boston.
And, there was the time that I spotted Michael Klein in the waiting area by the gates at Boston’s Logan Airport. We were (as usual) going to London. I think he and his family were on their way to San Juan.
And…there was the afternoon that Graham Bird and I were both waiting at Logan for family to arrive from London. Prof. Bird teaches in Fletcher’s Summer School, but spends the off-season (i.e., the academic year) at University of Sussex.
Since I don’t really travel all that much, I attribute these shared planes and sightings to the busy travels of the Fletcher faculty. But since I like to travel, working among so many people who have road-trip tales to share is one of the benefits of my many years at Fletcher.
On Tuesday, I returned to the office following two weeks of travels. Along with my husband (Paul), son (Josh), and daughter (Kayla), we spent time with family in London, and a week (accompanied by Paul’s mum) in Italy. We visited Pisa, Florence, and Venice at a pace that suited us, but might dismay true art lovers and Italophiles. For us, we were happy so long as the day’s activities left time for a gelato stop. Or two. I tried just about every flavor combination that interested me: Hazelnut and chocolate. Coffee and chocolate. Coconut and chocolate. Berries and chocolate. Berries and peach (no chocolate). Yummy, every one!
One phenomenon that interested me was the universal use of English. The first time I went to Italy was about 20 years ago (to Rome) and we fumbled along with a combination of Italian nouns (easily learned, while verbs are so challenging), French, and occasional English. Though many years have passed, and we were in a different region (one with more tourists relative to the resident population), it was still striking how much easier it was to get by without ever uttering a word of Italian. Even the French were speaking English! To be honest, I love the sound of Italian and enjoy being forced to try a new language, and I missed that opportunity. There’s no denying, though, that it’s easier to get around when language is less of a challenge.
I wasn’t the only Admissions staffer on the road. Earlier this month, Peter kicked off the wave of vacations with a week in Ontario. Laurie followed when she went to Austria where she, her husband (John), and daughter (Emily) spent two weeks, joined there by a Fletcher alum and family. And Roxana was off in Lebanon for a friend’s wedding. But now, we’re back to full force, including Kristen, who has completed her maternity leave. Must be time to start a new admissions cycle!
And if the return of our wayward staff members weren’t evidence enough, there are the new students to remind us that summer is coming to an end. This is the second (and final) week of the MIB program’s “pre-session” class in Strategic Management. This weekend, our new students will arrive, and Orientation starts on Monday. The School is starting to hum again!
Once we came up with the idea of PhD Visit Days, it seemed a shame not to share the idea around. So our experiment this fall will expand to include MIB Visit Days, too! On October 19, November 9, and December 7 (all Mondays), we’ll offer special information sessions, along with the opportunity to meet current students and find out what made Fletcher’s MIB program a good choice for them.
Of course, those interested in the MIB program are not limited to those three Mondays. Come by any time! But the MIB Visit Days will offer an easy opportunity to research the program and find out if it’s a fit for your career and grad school goals.
I’ve been spending my day digging out from the pile of work that accumulates during a vacation, so today’s post will be a quick one. Just wanted blog readers to know that the new 2010 Fletcher admission application is ready and waiting for you! Any work you do on the application now will be saved until you’re ready to edit or submit. So set up an account and get started!
As I mentioned earlier in the summer, we’re trying an experiment this fall: PhD Visit Days. On Mondays October 5, October 26, and November 16, we’ll offer a little extra programming to make visits by prospective PhD applicants more valuable. Visitors will have time in the morning and afternoon to attend classes, meet with professors, or participate in an evaluative interview. At 12:30, we’ll offer a special Information Session to answer PhD-specific questions. And at 3:30, current PhD candidates will be available to talk about the program.
While PhD applicants are not limited to visiting on these days, we hope you’ll take advantage of the streamlined opportunity for gathering information about the program.
The summer is a slow news time for the blog — thus the weekly updates on my weekend activities. Today I thought I’d switch themes.
Back in November, I read about a report by the Institute on International Education that said China is now fifth on the list of countries where U.S. students go to study abroad. I regularly talk to students and applicants on their way to or from China, so I don’t find the news surprising…but it’s still amazing. I spent two years, 1981-83, teaching English and studying Chinese in Beijing, a time when there were so few “Westerners” in China that we would run into each other wherever we went. Three days on a train to some distant destination, and I’d find other Beijing-based Americans, Canadians, or Europeans at the same tourist site.
A contributing factor was that our movement was very restricted. I wasn’t allowed to climb on a train to anywhere without a travel permit, and there was a very short list of cities that I could ever receive a permit to visit. The students from the U.S. or other countries now in China have much greater freedom of movement.
The living experience for these many Americans in China is also very different from my time. We were all accommodated in dormitories or compounds for foreigners — virtually no one rented an apartment in the general housing market. At the same time as this arrangement isolated me from general society, it also gave me the opportunity to meet students from all over the world — a silver lining.
A few years ago, I visited the campus where I had lived. What used to be a sleepy little neighborhood, where the only street sound at night was the clicking of electric buses, is now a region tightly connected to greater Beijing by highways and the subway. Always a hub of intellectual activity, the area is now a technology center with gleaming office buildings.
I have no doubt that life is much more fun for Americans in Beijing now than it was back in the day, but I appreciate having had the opportunity to watch Beijing pull itself out of the long shadow of the Cultural Revolution. The news is filled daily with the evidence of change in China — I’m glad to have my own personal perspective on all this progress.
I’m heading out for some vacation time, and the blog will be resting, too. Thanks to the advance-schedule feature, posts will appear this week and next, but comments won’t be posted until I’m back in the office.
Both the blog and I will be back on the 25th.
Have a great week!
For those not interested in my brand of in-town summer tourism, I want blog readers to know that art museums aren’t the sum total of Boston activities.
As an example: this past fall, The New York Times ran a travel story about Boston as a great place for science lovers. All the places mentioned are just a hop, skip and a jump from the Tufts campus (which, I might add, has it’s own art gallery).
Saturday was a beautiful day, so Paul and I headed downtown to catch the Shepard Fairey exhibit before it leaves the Institute of Contemporary Art this month. The ICA is set along the Boston waterfront and the views can rival the art.
We’ve been in the area long enough to remember when the Boston Harbor was kind of, well, yuck. It looks great now, and Saturday’s weather drew out the sailboats. A nice afternoon to walk along the water.
Once in a while, it’s good to experience our home city as visitors would.
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