Every so often, I ask students for blog input — sometimes in the form of their own post, but other times I only want a sentence or two.  That’s when I’m most likely to be surprised and impressed at how much energy they’ll put into something that advances my work but, to be honest, doesn’t do as much for them.

A week or so ago, via the Social List, I asked student organization leaders to tell me what their groups have been up to.  An applicant had asked me about student groups, and I felt that what you could find on the web site or the the calendar listings doesn’t do justice to the richness of Fletcher student life.

This is the first of the posts in which I’ll share the responses I received, with credit to the student who sent each update.  They’re in no particular order, but I hope that together they’ll give blog readers an idea of the many activities that enrich the academic and social life of Fletcher students.

Margaret:
The Fletcher Youth Initiative is focused on youth development and education issues both locally, here in Somerville/Boston, and throughout the world.  This Spring we are extremely excited to be hosting our annual youth conference through which we reach out to local high school students and invite them to come to Fletcher, learn about the field of International Relations, and engage with current Fletcherites about how this diverse and dynamic field can impact their lives.

Seth describes two organizations:
This semester, the Social Business Club conducted a workshop on models for social businesses from around the world, and discussed their relative strengths and weaknesses.  We hosted Daniel Fireside from Equal Exchange (oldest and largest Fair Trade company in the United States) at Fletcher for a discussion on financing and operations.  Looking ahead to the Spring, students are organizing to participate in the Tufts Social Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest, with $50,000 available in prize money.

Students in the Fletcher International Law Society are writing an amicus curiae brief for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, focusing on the construction of dialogues in consultation as a means to resolve the conflicting obligations of protection for foreign investment and indigenous peoples.

Patrick:
The Latin America Group has been very active.  First we organized a Symposium on Colombia and Venezuela Affairs with lots of great speakers, including Michael Shifter, the President of the Inter-American Dialogue.  We also had a Latin American wine and cheese night attended by about 40 students.  We hosted a talk by a Colombian labor leader about poor conditions at a mine in northern Colombia, run by a major foreign company, that provides much of the coal that fuels Massachusetts.  Last, we screened the film Oscar’s Cuba, about Cuban prisoner of conscience Oscar Biscet and the human rights situation on the island, which included a live Q&A with the film’s director.  Next semester we organize and host Latin Night!

Amos:
The Foreign Language Conversation Club coordinates language tables for students who want to practice their conversation skills in English, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Arabic, and Japanese.  The Latin America Group coordinates the Spanish and Portuguese sessions.

Jeffrey also writes about two groups:
The Fletcher Foreign Service Club (AKA Fletcher Diplomacy Club) meets to discuss the Foreign Service Exam process.  Many of the Pickering Fellows and those who have passed the exam make it much less intimidating for us hopefuls.  We even have practice sessions, and share knowledge on the career.

Tufts University Water Polo Club: Yes, it is the U, and not Fletcher-only, but it’s a club sport, so grad students are eligible.  I’m passionate about the sport, and it helps keep me balanced against the academic load.  Plus, the undergrads here love our involvement and it’s a great way to branch out into the greater Tufts community.

That’s all for today’s installment.  More to follow later this week!

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