Though this work is a kind of second (or later) career for most of us in Fletcher’s Admissions Office, we share a common long-standing interest in international issues. Continuing to introduce the staff, today several of us answer the Supplementary Essay question: Tell us more about how you first became interested in international affairs, or in pursuing an international career.
I opened the mailbox. There it was. The letter I had been waiting to receive for what seemed like forever – information regarding my first-year college roommate. I was shocked: Kenya? What would I have in common with someone from Kenya? Looking back a few weeks after school started, I realized how ridiculous and naïve I was. My roommate, as well as my hall mates from a plethora of countries (Puerto Rico, Argentina, Honduras, Pakistan, Singapore, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Germany, Latvia, Philippines) and many parts of the U.S., opened my eyes to all the world has to offer. As we all began a new chapter in our lives, we were able to teach each other many things about our heritage and culture. I found myself eager to learn as much as I could about everyone’s countries. While at school, I took classes related to international affairs, and I also joined some campus cultural clubs. Since that time, I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world and see firsthand all I learned though my classes and from my friends. My thirst for knowledge of other cultures continues to grow and I look forward to learning about, and traveling to, as many places as possible in the years to come.
My interest in international affairs actually has very boring roots: a seventh-grade Spanish class. I lived in a small town, and all middle-schoolers had to choose one elective class. My parents were much more far-sighted than I was (as is common at that age), and “encouraged” me to choose Spanish over drama. I loved it, and I developed a curiosity about all of the hispanoparlante countries. This initial linguistic interest led to travels (Guatemala, Mexico) which, in turn, led to study abroad (Spain), which then led to living abroad (Argentina). I was in Argentina from 2000-2001, when the economy experienced a steady slide downward, resulting in a crippling economic crash. All of a sudden, my fascination with a foreign culture morphed into a more robust interest in how the Argentine politics, economy, business, and law, contributed to the crisis. This is a story common to many Fletcher students, where a seed of interest in a language or a culture blossoms into the full-fledged interest in a region or issue. In my case, I was able to follow this mind-opening time abroad with a fascinating job in Corporate Social Responsibility. I was able to work with large international companies dealing with the very issues that sparked my interest in Argentina: the intersection of culture, politics, law, and business.
With a month or so left before my college graduation and faced with more than a few career uncertainties, a friend told me about an opportunity to spend the summer in rural France, teaching English at a language immersion camp. I applied for the position looking for an adventure, a new learning experience, and as a way to stall the rapid encroachment of “real life” for a few more months. I spent the summer living in a former convent in a tiny town in the foothills of the Pyrenees teaching English, as well as baseball, the proper way to carve a jack-o’-lantern, and the lyrics to “Country Roads,” to groups of French pre-teens. After one summer in the Pyrenees, and another month or so of backpacking with my Eurail pass, my future career path became much clearer. While it would not necessarily involve pumpkins (or John Denver, for that matter), I knew it would need to involve education and be inherently international. Since that summer, I’ve taught English in France, Japan, and Poland, coordinated short-term school-to-school partnership exchanges, and managed State Department grant-funded exchange programs for high school students from Germany, the U.S., the Middle East, the Balkans, and Eurasia. A few years ago, my path led me to Fletcher, where I’ve found a career that fulfills both criteria and a diverse and engaging community that always keeps life interesting.
My personal interest in international affairs did not come into focus until my senior year of high school when we had to choose which colleges to apply to. When I was forced to think of what I wanted to study in college, the first thing that came to mind was international affairs. It was something I grew up in, and a subject I realized that I would enjoy and be good at. My first personal exposure to international affairs was actually at the age of three, when my parents decided that my dad would become a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department. My parents thought it would be a great learning experience for my brother and me, as well as a good transition to something new following my dad’s career in the Air Force. Growing up, I inadvertently became a young diplomat representing America (without pay) in several countries – Greece, Nigeria, Germany, Morocco, Cyprus and Bahrain. These experiences would become beneficial in college with my major in International Relations & Comparative Religion, and then when I started working in Admissions at Fletcher.
As for me:
It’s all in the packaging, right? So I could say that I first became interested in international affairs when, as a child, I first traveled to Europe with my family. Or when I studied American Foreign Policy in college. Or when I studied French, or Spanish, or Chinese. But, in fact, I don’t think I really knew that I had bumped into a lasting interest until I was home from China and job-searching. At that point, it was clear to me that I just wasn’t ready to let go. I had been “bitten by the China bug” and I wanted to carry my hard-earned knowledge into my career. My first post-China job was with a Hong Kong-based company that organized trade shows in China. An MBA and a relocation to Boston later, I started working at Fletcher on a year-long special program for mid-career Chinese managers. Admissions is my second Fletcher career, but I can’t imagine work without an international component.
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