From the monthly archives: March 2012

This week I carried on assorted email dialogues with Laurie when she was in Washington, D.C. and New York, Kristen while she sat in an overheated terminal at Houston airport on her way to Mexico City, and Jeff as he went to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  In fact, though Tracy and I were the only staff members on campus for the entire week, we all share a common challenge — keeping up with the flow of email.

My colleagues may be more successful than I in conquering their inbox each day.  For myself, I just can’t seem to answer all the questions as efficiently as I’d like, much as I attempt a daily triage to ensure I take care of as many as possible.  I start nearly every message with an apology for being so slow in responding.  Have you received one of those from me, dear blog reader?  You’re not alone.

I hope you’ll bear with me (and my Admissions pals) while we do our best to answer everyone in a timely way.  Remember that some of your questions require research.  Others could be quick if we didn’t first need to find your file.  Our intentions are good.  Some time soon, I’ll look at my inbox and find no unanswered messages.  Not today, mind you, but some time soon.

 

I was lucky on Monday to have contacted Lily, who mentioned she had spent her spring break in Singapore with the Fletcher International Business Club.  I can’t believe I nearly missed this interesting news!  Lily saved the day, and best of all, she was happy to write something for me.  Here’s Lily’s report.

While Spring break is a time to rest for most students, some find it a great opportunity to network and build the career connections that will help them land their dream job.  And so six Fletcher students, both first- and second-years, went on a week-long career trip to Singapore.  With a shared strong interest in Southeast Asia, the students met with thought leaders and business executives, company managers and representatives, to learn about the economic and business environment in Southeast Asia, as well as the career opportunities in the region.

Students met with a range of companies, from financial services groups like MasterCard and DBS, to consulting firms such as Accenture and IHS, to oil and gas companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil.  Organized through the Fletcher network, personal contacts, or simply company outreach, the meetings were an amazing opportunity to meet people with extensive experience and expertise in Southeast Asia.

A lively Fletcher community in Singapore was yet another perk of the trip.  A gathering was organized with the extensive support of the Fletcher Alumni Club of Singapore and the gracious hospitality of a Fletcher alumna. Wonderful to meet so many recent and not-so-recent alums in the region.  Their hospitality is unmatched by any measure.

As it often goes — work hard, play hard.  Singapore has some great things to offer!  The highlights:  chilli crab, Singapore sling, chicken rice, and Sentosa!

It was a packed week, exploring the city and its culture, in addition to attending business meetings. Some great videos for Fletcher Follies squeezed in as well!

Interesting – yes!  Useful – even more than I had expected!  Exhausting – to a certain degree!  Worth it – absolutely!

Southeast Asia is a booming economic region and this Singapore trip opened many doors for our Fletcher gang.  We hope to continue this entirely student-led initiative in the future!

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Judging from the nanosecond it took for all the available places at this event, scheduled for tonight, to be snatched up, the Diplomacy Club was onto something when it organized:

“How Etiquette and Protocol Affect Diplomacy”
An evening with the Bosworths

The details (from the invitation):  Dean and Mrs. Bosworth have been kind enough to invite the Fletcher Diplomacy Club into their home for dinner and discussion.  The event will revolve around the Bosworths’ extensive experience with diplomatic etiquette and protocol, but will also include time for questions from students.

The homework:  The U.S. State Department’s “Protocol for the Modern Diplomat,” used to educate U.S. Foreign Service Officers.

The blog wonders:  Should there be a final exam, where students are judged on their newly developed etiquette?

 

A few weeks ago, when Jeff and I were hanging out in the Hall of Flags, Jeff prevailed upon Summer to write about her decision to leave Washington, D.C. and head north for graduate study at Fletcher.  Here are Summer’s thoughts on the matter:

I’m one among many Fletcher students who’ve migrated north for graduate school from the nation’s capital.  For those of you debating whether to uproot your inside-the-beltway careers for a couple years in Boston, here’s a short list of FAQs gathered from a few Washingtonians-turned-Fletcherites:

Q: But why would I leave all this great networking?!
A: Don’t worry, your house of business cards will not collapse on itself when you move to Boston.  In fact, you can get your very own Fletcher business cards on our ready-made template as soon as you get here, so you can keep right on networking like nothing has changed.  Fletcher’s Office of Career Services plans annual events connecting Fletcher students with alumni in Boston, New York, and D.C.  But you’ll have the opportunity to meet plenty of academics and practitioners in your field right here in Medford, or at one of the many other universities you’ll have access to in the Boston area.  The greatest networking you may do here, however, is with your classmates.  The diversity of perspectives in a Fletcher classroom means that you have something to learn from everyone.  For me, the decision to come here was about focusing my networking, not curtailing it.

Q: Do I need to buy multiple pairs of long underwear?
A: Probably.  But not this winter — we’ve barely seen snow.  And the two coldest experiences of my life still rank:  1) the day I spent hours shivering under the Washington monument to watch Obama take the oath on a jumbotron; and 2) snowshoeing up Connecticut Avenue on my commute in the midst of Snowpocalypse.  Boston weather was my go-to small talk when I first decided to move.  (For example: Random colleague: “Are you excited about Boston?” Me: “Yes, but I’m going to freeze! I’ve never lived in the north, unless you count Northern Virginia!)  Keep your credit card in your wallet ’til you see snow on the ground.

Q: Does Medford have a Georgetown Waterfront?
A:  No.  But we do have the Charles River nearby, which is debatably cleaner than the Potomac.  My problem is that there is too much to do in Boston.  And if you think that Medford may be too far away from the action for your taste, here’s a useful analogy:  Medford/Somerville/Cambridge is to Boston as Clarendon/Courthouse/Rosslyn is to D.C.  And there is a lot to do right here in our neighborhood.  I have a list of restaurants and bars to try that is longer than my non-salaried self can afford, and when it comes to music, festivals, day trips, and things to do on the cheap, the options are endless.

Q: Can I still read Politico from Boston?  What about The Onion?
A:  Yes, and (thank goodness) yes.  Thanks to the advent of the internet, you will have immediate access to all the policy wonk blogs available to your friends working on the Hill.  You can still tweet, Facebook, and g-chat awesome new posts to everyone in your world-wide network.  What’s better, you’ll have a whole new network of internationally wonky friends to share them with — when you’re not too busy reading books, that is.  And once you’ve had time to fall in love with Medford, you can even profess your feelings on the Admissions Blog for all your D.C friends to read.

 

This has been a strange week.  First, there was the weather.  Here’s what it looked like, a short while before I left work yesterday:

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve found ways to enjoy summer-in-spring.  Among other things, we had a staff lunch Wednesday at a restaurant with big windows that let the outside in.  Nice to be out of the office for a little while.

Then, there was the lack of students.  I know they’re having a well deserved spring break, but it’s quiet around here without them.

I could go on, but never mind….The good news is that the flags are back in the Hall of Flags and the students soon will be, too.  The weather on Monday should be more spring-like (says the weather people).  All-in-all, a more normal week in front of us.

 

While it’s true that Fletcher’s Student Council couldn’t make a decision to, say, offer all students an A grade in every class, it does play an important role in representing students — their views and needs — to the School’s administration.  The Council is composed of first-year and continuing students, and there’s a rep for the PhD program.

Based on reports I’ve seen, the past few years’ Councils have been particularly active, and even hold office hours so that students can express their opinions.  True representative democracy!

But what would be the purpose of working hard on behalf of one’s constituents, if those good citizens of Fletcher never learned the results of the Council’s actions.  Creating awareness fell to Councillor Blake and friend, Lesley.  They channeled 2012′s big Oscar winner in this video report about the Council’s success in arranging after-hours availability of food and supplies — for students who can’t bear to leave the building.

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A few weeks back, a virtual Social List brawl nearly broke out among defenders of their favorite poetic tradition.  Yes, blog readers.  Fletcher students will take time away from case studies, thesis writing, extracurricular activities, and the job hunt to argue about Urdu poetry.  As I haven’t had a chance to do the discussants the courtesy of checking with them, I’m going to share the points of discussion without using names (but I can tell you that their cultural or national origins include Pakistan, India, Armenia, Iran, and possibly others).  Also, I don’t endorse any particular viewpoint (being ignorant on this great topic), and I can’t vouch for the accuracy of anything written below.  Plus, I haven’t included the many wikipedia links that were part of the discussion.  With all those disclaimers in place, the great Urdu Poetry debate:

Message 1
Dear Fletcher,
Tufts is organising an Urdu poetry recital on Thursday. Urdu is the language of the poets — that is why Urdu-speaking individuals (namely Pakistanis) are die-hard romantics.   If you are interested in the recital of some of the most influential and famous Urdu couplets — that were responsible for social movements and the spread of ideologies (including Communism), or were just some poor, talented, heart-broken dude venting — come to Cabot 702 on Thursday at 6:30 pm.

Also, we’re trying to find translations for most of the poems.  Another incentive to be there: Chai.  See you all there!

Message 2
From wikipedia:  “There are between 60 and 70 million speakers of Urdu:  There were 52 million in India per the 2001 census, some 6% of the population; 13 million in Pakistan in 2008, or 8%; and several hundred thousand apiece in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh.”

Clearly there are more romantics in India.
#win!

Message 3
Haha!  C’mon, let the Pakistanis have the upper hand in SOMETHING! And citing Wikipedia won’t convince me. :)

Message 4
…and the tradition of Couplet poetry in the subcontinent began when Persians fleeing Shiite conversion settled in the then Mughal Empire. Writing in Persian.  See: Kabir and many others.

Indians, Pakistanis: thanks for the upper hand :)

Message 5
Are you sure?  Kabir died in 1518.  The Mughals’ reign didn’t start until 1526 when Barbur came to power.  Besides, Kabir wrote in Hindi not Persian.

Try again.

Message 6
Yes, I am sure.  Even before the Mughals, the Ghaznavids and Delhi Sultanate were jampacked with Persian poets:  Amir Khusro, the father of Qawwali; Zeb un Nissa, daughter of Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.

Message 7
The reciting of couplets on the Subcontinent stretches back into far greater antiquity than mere mediæval Gunpowder Empires.  But the Persian tradition is beautiful, and among one of its many adherents who roamed the streets of Lahore and Delhi in the seventeenth century happens to be someone close to my heart.

Upper hand, anyone? Anyone?

Message 8
There actually wasn’t ever a real divide between Persian and Hindi/Urdu in the Subcontinent’s literary tradition.  Amir Khusro wrote in both Persian and Hindvi, as did many other poets of the Mughal era.  (Hindvi being the old version of Hindustani, which would eventually evolve into Hindi and Urdu).  Urdu poets still wrote in Persian, even after Hindi and Urdu developed their own formalized languages and literary registers.  One of the great 20th century Urdu poets, Iqbal, also had an extensive catalog of work in Persian as well.  My uncle studied Persian in school while growing up in Bombay in the 1950s, and he would apparently even recite Persian poems in his sleep (much to the chagrin of my father, who was sleeping in the same room).

The fact that this is a Social List debate makes me think that Fletcher should have a Persian/Urdu poetry night…we clearly have a constituency for it.  (I’m imagining dueling Persian-Urdu ghazals…)

Message 9
And I can add that the fact that there is such a debate on the SL makes me even happier to be here at Fletcher ;) You are incredible!  Have a great day. :)

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The MIB (Master’s in International Business) program at Fletcher is relatively new — just a handful of graduating classes so far — but it is making its mark on business education discourse.  Bhaskar Chakravorti, who heads Fletcher’s business initiatives, has had his ideas featured in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others.  And if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read the Ten Questions feature, where Dean Chakravorti engages his colleagues on a variety of issues.

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I’m not sure how long I can keep up this post-a-day pace, but I’ll try for one more day, at least.  This is spring break week for the University and it is quiet around here.  And, combined with today’s weather

diving into the pile of work requires drawing from my inner store of diligence.

But there’s one topic that was lost in the shuffle in January, and I want to catch up today.  At the end of December, our previous IT guru, Roxana, took a new position at Tufts, and became the IT honcho for the Arts and Sciences Graduate School.  Her spot at Fletcher was taken by new-guy Tracy.  Good luck with the (not so) new job, Roxana, and (belated) welcome to Tracy!

This transition was part of the reason why we set a generous window for the release of decisions.  Fortunately, we didn’t need to draw on all of the additional time.

Next topic.  I mentioned last week that one of my challenges is figuring out when to write so that a post is both read and useful.  I’ve introduced the staff and our interests in the past.  But at a time when this year’s applicants are contacting and hearing from us, it may be useful to tell you who’s who.

Cast of Fletcher Admissions Characters

Liz:  The face of Admissions.  You’ll meet Liz when you first enter the office, and you may reach her by phone, or hear from her when you email the main fletcheradmissions mailbox.

Tracy:  The back office guy, still new to the job, working with the various IT programs that prop up the application, GAMS, etc.  Tracy may pick up the phone or answer your emails to the fletcheradmissions address, too.

Laurie:  The Director of Admissions.  Not much more to say, except that mid-career MA students will have extra contact with her while at Fletcher.

The Associate Directors:  Dan, Jeff, Kristen, and me.  We’re pretty much interchangeable, except that we all have a program that we work with a little more than the others.  For Dan, it’s the LLM.  Kristen works nearly exclusively with MIB, and Jeff provides second-line support.  And I work with the PhD program.  We’re all here to help MALD students, too!

Unless you’re hearing from an Admissions Student Intern, you’re probably speaking to or emailing with one of the Cast.

Final topic.  The Hall of Flags is, today, the Hall of Flagless.  You can see Jeff’s photo of the colorless scene on the Admissions Facebook page.

 

My daughter, Kayla, received notification a week or so ago that she was admitted to one of the universities to which she had applied.  It was completely old-school — the mail slot opened and a big envelope plunked through.  She wasn’t expecting anything that day, and it was a nice fat surprise.  She’s going to college!

Those of you admitted this year know you didn’t need to wait for the fat envelope, and in fact, just about everything can be found online or will be sent by email.  But we think it’s still nice to have a packet to read on the subway to work, or to refer to as you do your grad school research.  And if you’re in a far-flung location, the packet may simply be easier to access than a computer.  Like it was for Admissions student intern, Hillary, who took this photo last year when she received her packet in Pobe, Benin.

When we were packing up the folders last week, we noticed a large number of very local addresses, and we joked that we could drive all around town, hand delivering packets.  In fact, there’s someone on my street.  (Look for me at the blue house, Martin Street admitted student!)  But no matter how local, we let the fat envelopes find their own way through the mail to the right address.

 

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