From the monthly archives: August 2010

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a few email requests for current students to help incoming students in a (typically) student-initiated arrangement, sweetly called the Buddy Program.  I sent a note to Patrick Elliot, the organizer, and asked him to describe it for blog readers.  Here’s what he wrote:

Let’s say you’re a new Fletcher student, and you’re about to start your first day of Orientation.  You’re excited to start, but tired from unpacking, anxious about the new demands of graduate school, and not really sure what you’re doing — all at once.  Fletcher’s Orientation will give you all the information you need to, say, register for classes online, but it probably won’t answer the big questions like:  Which classes should I take?  How should I buy books?  Which parties are not to miss?  What the heck is Social Hour anyway, and why should I care?

You can easily get answers to all those questions by asking any Fletcher student in sight — if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s offering opinions.  But “course shopping” is fast approaching, and classes start the following day.  What if you want to focus on, say, Non-Profit Management, and the students you’ve met so far don’t know much about it?  Plus you don’t yet have home Internet, and it’s been, like, days since you last updated your Twitter feed…

That’s why last year, Jessica Smith F’10 started Fletcher’s student-run Buddy Program.  Using Admissions Office info on incoming students and their proposed concentrations, the Buddy Program pairs two or three incoming students with a current student who shares academic and professional interests, but, more importantly, also knows the ins and outs of Fletcher.  Now when you’re settling into Boston, picking classes, and trying to decide between a Green House party or staying home (really?), you have someone to ask.

As I alluded to earlier, the Buddy Program doesn’t replace the constant Hall of Flags chatter between Fletcher students about classes, professors, internships, jobs, parties, Boston excursions, and Best Practices in Free Food Procurement.  But it gives you the right contacts at the right time — when you’re facing so many changes and decisions but don’t know a bunch of people yet.  It’s one of many ways that Fletcher students (and staff) look out for each other.

 

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In case you haven’t been combing over every inch of the Fletcher web site, I wanted to bring your attention to this story.  It provides a rundown of the current activities of the MIB (Master’s in International Business) program’s first graduating class.

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Though the blog continued working, I was vacationing last week and just returned to the office yesterday.  I took a walk through the building, in search of indication that students have started to return.  Such signs are still few, but I know that the population is on the rise.  For one thing, the MIB pre-session is in its second week, though the students are kept so busy that I haven’t managed to see any of them.  And, following a lot of interviews, Roxana and Peter have chosen three incoming students to be the new interns in our office.  (We used to call them student workers, but we’ve upgraded the title to give them greater dignity.)  I’ll have the interns introduce themselves, via the blog, some time in September.

And this means that the final pre-semester scramble is on!  Orientation starts next Monday, so there are only a few remaining days to complete the work that is best done with limited interruption.  I’ve enjoyed my summer project time (not to mention some time off), but I’m looking forward to the buzz that follows the return of the students.

 

January applicants (whose applications are due on October 15) and eager beaver applicants for September 2011 enrollment will be happy to  know that our new application is up.

If you’re not feeling ready to jump into the application, you may still want to breeze over the application instructions for the program to which you plan to apply (available at the bottom of this page).

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We can’t all have culturally or intellectually interesting summer jobs like Kristen, Peter, and Roxana.  Someone needs to staff the positions that enable everyone to have summer fun!

Liz was up in the lifeguard’s chair around a pool:

My favorite summer job was being a lifeguard, and my favorite lifeguarding gig was at a private psychiatric hospital in Vermont.  Yes, you heard me right.  The hospital had an outdoor pool that was available in the summer to patients who had earned the privilege, but they couldn’t come into the pool area unless they were with hospital staff.  (I was trained only on pool-related issues, not mental, physical or emotional ones.)  Also, the pool was only four feet deep.  By my second summer there, I was the senior lifeguard and didn’t have to work weekends anymore.  During the week, patients visited at fairly regular intervals, spaced out throughout the day.  When no one was at the pool, I would swim, read, sunbathe, or nap.  When it rained, I moved my chair into the fairly spacious pool shed; and when it was so stormy that it was unsafe to stay outside, I’d hang out in the hospital cafeteria.  My boss was fantastic, I befriended some of the hospital staff, who would come visit me on their breaks, and (for the most part) the patients were really great, too.   I spent four summers lifeguarding at the hospital.  As summer jobs go, it was the best — I made really great money and got to spend my day outside by a pool.  What could be better than that? =)

Jeff, was also in the lifeguard’s chair, when not scooping ice cream:

Aside from less interesting college internships, I held two great summer jobs.  Throughout my childhood, my life revolved around the pool, so it was only natural to become a lifeguard.  Summers in high school were spent working two blocks away from my house. I could literally roll out of bed and be “at work” (I use that term loosely) within five minutes.  It was a great gig – free food throughout the day, nice tans, and numerous visits from friends.  On the other hand, it sometimes got quite boring as the pool was rarely used:  the patrons spent 90% of their day on the golf course.  I guess my job was really more about getting a tan and eating, than it was about saving lives.

Another summer job I held (which also involved eating) was scooping ice cream at our local creamery.  It was only open from late spring to fall, and it was literally a shack with picnic tables off to the side.  During the long, hot summer months, the lines of customers seemed to never end, but we always had  a great time.  There were usually about four of us on a shift, happily serving customers while singing, dancing, and gossiping.  The best part of work was the chance to treat ourselves to ice cream throughout the day.  As ice cream is one of my favorite desserts (it’s a tossup between ice cream and chocolate chip cookies), nothing could have been better.

As for me, for five summers, you might have found me at the foot of the lifeguard’s chair at Jones Beach State Park, near my childhood home on Long Island, NY.  I was a “state worker,” which referred to all the people (aside from the lifeguards) who kept the park running.  In my first summer, I did the worst of the work:  picking garbage up off the beach, cleaning bathroom facilities, collecting parking fees.  For the following four summers, I was promoted to foreman, which meant a combination of telling other people to do the worst of the work, and doing a little of it myself.  Jones Beach is an extraordinarily busy place (maximum capacity on a hot summer’s day was 250,000 people), and I learned a lot there about the best and worst of humanity.  (It is indeed true that there are people who will leave a child in a baking-hot car while they go for a swim.  Fortunately, there are also people who will call the police when they spot the child.)  It was a funny time in the world of summer jobs, and our staff was made up of college students for whom this was a job of choice.  The money was good, the hours were consistent, and it was very social, even if the work could be smelly.

And there you have it.  When you meet us, judge for yourself whether our summer jobs with manuscripts or ice cream shaped the way we approach Admissions work.  Or share your own stories with a comment on this entry.

 

Summer always seems like the best time for the blog to introduce our staff to future applicants and students.  For this warm mid-August week, I’ve asked my admissions pals to describe one of the jobs that kept them busy in a previous summer.

Kristen gets the prize for classiest job.

One of my most interesting summer jobs was as an intern in the Books and Manuscripts department of Sotheby’s. While the title makes it sound dusty and dull, the pieces that came through the office were anything but.  Just before I started, Sotheby’s held the auction of the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  I was shocked to learn that even the simplest or strangest of items — the President’s leg braces, for instance — commanded the highest of prices.  And so began my education.  I was able to see a Napoleonic-era Treaty that was in the midst of an international police investigation.  I talked to countless people who knew that they — without a doubt, no questions asked — had an original copy of the Declaration of Independence.  (No, they didn’t, but they were likely inspired by this story.)  And I got to see countless fine antiquarian books, famous and esoteric, come in for evaluation.  It was a summer that took me out of my reality.  And as with any experience that removes you from your day-to-day rhythms, I was reminded of all the unique subcultures, idiosyncratic enthusiasts, and deep wells of knowledge that exist out there in our fascinating world.

All that said, nothing had a bigger impact on me than my summer job at a movie theater.  It gave me:  a) a deep appreciation for customer service; b) an excitement for the college days that lay ahead; and c) an enduring distaste for movie theater popcorn.  All invaluable in their own ways!

And Peter gets the prize for most international summer job.

More than a decade ago, I spent the summer living in a small town in Southwestern France teaching English, leading activities, and coaching sports for French children at an English and cultural-immersion summer camp in the Pyrenees Mountains.  It was modeled after the typical American summer camp:  boys and girls “cabins” (in this case, dorm rooms in a converted convent), sports and activities, trips to the pool, etc. with a few cultural quirks thrown in.  The students had to attend English classes twice a day (French kids, like most other kids I know, do not like attending classes in the summer), and each day was inspired by an American holiday or theme, such as Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, or The Wild West.  The campers played flag football, made dreamcatchers in arts and crafts, and were served “American” food (hamburgers, pizza, tacos, turkey, etc.) prepared by a French chef.  It was an interesting concept, but it was a bit surreal to find myself teaching baseball on an old field, surrounded by an ancient stone wall down the street from a crumbling chateau, or to watch a group of French children practice their country-western line dancing in an old French convent.

Meanwhile, Roxana has the most Fletcheresque summer experience.

While I was in college, my parents were living overseas, and every summer I would fly to where they were located. The summer after my freshman year, I was able to lounge around the house for about three days — just long enough for my jetlag to disappear — before my dad told me I had to apply for one of the summer internship positions at the Embassy.  I was not looking forward to being a “gofer” for Foreign Service Officers all summer.  As it turned out, I was more than a gofer, since the summers are when there’s high Embassy staff turnover, and they needed help filling in for the missing personnel.  I actually had a lot of fun…despite having to get up at 5 a.m. when my dad went in for an early shift.  (I’d take a two-hour nap on the couch in his office until it was time for me to start work.)  I got to meet interesting people, look at cool passports from different countries while helping process visas, and see how we deal with fraudulent visa cases.  I helped plan the annual Fourth of July Banquet and participated in the menu tasting (yummy!), and also dealt with the stress of a computer program that kept corrupting the 1,000+ name guest list.  I nursed my paper-cuts from stuffing the guest invitations and enjoyed the staff BBQ’s.  My list of assigned tasks took me through the summer and made me look forward to working there again the three following summers.  Overall, the exposure to the ins and outs of a U.S. Embassy was a wonderful experience and has helped me in my work. But, thank goodness, I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. anymore.

Later this week:  Summers at the beach or around the pool.

 

Wednesday is the day for the Davis Square farmers market — just a 10-15 minute walk from Fletcher.  I won’t carry on about how I love this particular farmers market.  (I’ve done that once already this season.)  But I wanted to share someone else’s blog, which is completely dedicated to it.  Plan your visit to Fletcher for a Wednesday, and you can be buying fruits and vegetables just a few minutes after your interview ends.

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Last year, we experimented with inviting MIB and PhD applicants to campus for daylong programs tailored to their application process and interests.  The precise design of each Visit Day depends on the degree program, the number of attendees, and other activities going on at the School.  But the general outline is a special (targeted) Information Session, evaluative interviews, class visits, and the opportunity to meet current students.

The motivations for offering Visit Days are slightly different for the two programs.  For PhD, the application process is complicated, and it’s particularly important that our students be well-matched with the expertise and resources at the School.  For MIB — a new program — applicants tend to have a lot of focused questions, and the Visit Day gives us a chance to provide the information they need.

The dates for the fall’s Visit Days are:

MIB:  September 20, October 18; November 8; December 6.  All of those dates are Mondays.

PhD:  Tuesday, October 19; Monday, November 15.

We encourage MIB and PhD program applicants to schedule their visits for one of these dates, but please don’t think you’re limited to them.  You’re welcome any time.

 

A little over two weeks ago, I hopped on the T (subway) and headed downtown to meet up with Srusht, the Iraqi high school student we’d be hosting while she participated in the Boston portion of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program.

We had signed up to be hosts in June, and soon after learned that my budding internationalist daughter, Kayla, was selected to participate alongside the Iraqis.  Off she went to Brattleboro, Vermont on July 14 for a leadership program at World Learning’s SIT campus.  A week later, she and one other area teen were back in Boston with eight Iraqis, who then headed home with their host families.  The local program, organized by Global Youth Leadership Institute, kept them exhausted with activities each day, and the host family’s job was mostly to provide breakfast and dinner, along with a few activities on the two Sundays they were with us.

So if you had visited my kitchen last week, you could have nibbled from the assortment of breads (Lebanese, Syrian, and Afghan), the Kiri cheese, the containers of dolmas, or any of the assortment of other foods commonly associated with the Mideast that I picked up to keep Srusht well fed.  (As host mother, I took seriously my job of ensuring she didn’t waste away during her visit, and familiar foods were a big help.)

The whole experience was great for all of us.  Kayla had an eye-opening three-plus weeks with her new friends.  (She’s still with them in Washington, DC — due to return tomorrow.)  The host families enjoyed getting to know our bright and talented students, as well as each other.  I had a delicious time checking out the goods at local Arax Market, where they were super helpful in making food selections.  And we all had our 15 minutes of fame when The Boston Globe ran a story about the program.

On Monday, we dropped Srusht and Kayla off to meet up with the other DC-bound students.  The Boston team is part of a larger group of about 40 students in DC now, following their two weeks of homestays and local programming.  (In addition to Boston, following the week at SIT the students were farmed out to Seattle; Bozeman, Montana; and Louisville, Kentucky.)

Possibly the best part of the experience was observing the universality of the teenage condition:  They have a flexible sense of time.  They’ll sit forever in front of a computer.  They sleep late on days off.  They like popular music and hanging out together.  Despite the obvious sensitivity of interacting with kids from a troubled place, for the host parents our challenges weren’t always cross-cultural.  Most days, we simply needed to find creative ways to get the kids out the door on time.

 

Well, I didn’t have much luck in convincing incoming students to share their blogs with us.  I think the newbies like to maintain a low profile.  Or maybe they’re counting on Fletcher to turn them into bloggers.  Either way, just a few incoming, outgoing, or current students have sent me links to their blogs since my last list.  No matter — there’s some good stuff in these links!

First up, Emily Huston, who says, “You can read about my experiences as a Boren Fellow in Djibouti, which I’m contributing to Somalilandpress.”  Her first posting went up last week.

Kealy Sloan writes, “I’m in Colombia working at a school in a district with a majority of displaced kids.”  Working and blogging, that is.

Kelsi Stine is blogging from Sri Lanka.  She notes:  “Heads up that my blog, tracking my summer internship with The Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka, targets a wide audience, but I still plan to have plenty of Sri Lanka political content, and to use tags and headings so serious readers can avoid the vacation information.”

Finally, incoming student Elia Boggia is both a blogger and a twitterer.  He tells us:  “I’m an incoming MALD student, and have been living in northern Iraq for the better part of this year.  I’ve been writing about my experiences, with a slant towards cultural observations and football-related comments, on Sar Chaw.”  Note that he blogs in English and Italian!

I’ve really enjoyed reading the students’ blogs.  I hope there’s something in today’s post, or in a previous list (this one or this one), that interests you, too.

 

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