From the monthly archives: July 2012

What’s better than talking about my weekend?  Talking about my vacation, of course.  Last week, I was blog-postless while enjoying some time on Cape Cod.  Not being a Massachusetts native myself, I don’t have stories of generations of family all vacationing on the Cape, but we’ve started our own tradition of occasional summer visits to Eastham.  People often compare the shape of the Cape to an arm making a fist.  Eastham is well along the arm, but south of the fist itself:

I would describe Eastham as offering just the right amount of nothing.  That is, there are several restaurants and a couple of motels, but when Kayla wanted to find a public spot with Wi-Fi access, she needed to bike to Orleans, the next town to the south.  What Eastham does offer is beaches along Cape Cod Bay, ocean beaches that are part of the National Seashore, and a few fresh-water kettle ponds.  Making it easy to go from one to the next are two great bike paths — the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and a path to Coast Guard Beach.  Could we need anything more to keep us busy?

We entertained a small but shifting cast of characters in a rental house for a week, and managed to take advantage of all the things that we consider attractions, in addition to the usual beaches.  We went to Wellfleet twice — once for the Wellfleet Drive-In, and once to walk through the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp at Marconi Beach.  (Marconi having sent the first trans-Atlantic radio transmission originating in the U.S.)

Americans usually learn that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and Plymouth certainly played its important role in U.S. history.  But, in fact, the Pilgrims first landed at the tip of the Cape, near Provincetown.  Our week included two treks to Provincetown, where we mixed a bit of shopping with trips up the pier to drop one of our visitors at the ferry.

If you’re at Fletcher this fall (or a future one), you can easily experience a bit of Cape Cod with a day trip.  An hour’s drive will take you to Sandwich, where you can bike along the Cape Cod Canal.  Or perhaps you’d prefer to relax on the ferry to Provincetown.  If you bring a bicycle onto the ferry, it’s easy to get around Provincetown, though even traveling on foot allows you to cover a lot of territory.

My week’s vacation is behind me now and it took me all day yesterday to clear the email and other stuff that awaited me.  I’ll return the blog to admissions topics later this week.


For those of you who may just have heard about our Coffee Hours, I’d like to share the final list of locations.  I hope you’ll try to attend one!

With that, the blog is going to take a vacation this week.  Ideally, I’d have planned ahead or lined up guest bloggers, but this summer hasn’t followed a predictable path and I’m guest-bloggerless.

I’ll be back next week.  See you then!


Well, I didn’t get it together this week to report on my weekend.  But, with service to my readership in mind, I’ll just mention the restaurant we went to.  You may be looking for an interesting meal this weekend, and I wouldn’t want you to go hungry (or uninspired).

Much as I love going to the beach, the visit is undeniably enhanced by a good dinner.  So last Sunday, when it was quite hot, we went to Revere for a little sea/sun/sand, and some Cambodian food.  First, we checked out this year’s sand sculptures (always creative and odd at the same time).

And then we headed off to Thmor Da, our favorite Revere dinner venue.  Not just us — the Boston Globe likes it, too!  (Personally, I could eat the papaya salad every day.)  If you’re making a plan with friends tonight, consider taking a ride on the Blue Line to Thmor Da.  Or, if you’re not in town, file this away in your mental restaurant directory, and make the trip when you’re at Fletcher.

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Sorry for the silence for the last few days.  At the end of last week, Kristen and I went down to New York for a conference on the evaluation of transcripts and other credentials.  It was offered by World Education Services, which is probably familiar to more international students than those in the U.S.  WES calls itself a source of “international education intelligence,” which is an interesting way of saying that they facilitate the admission of international students to U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities by helping those universities understand the prior education of the applicants.

Having enthusiastically signed up for the conference, I started to have second thoughts earlier last week.  Would this really be worthwhile?  We think we do pretty well with international transcripts, and we see so many of them.  Would a day of discussion of Turkey, China, India, Hong Kong, Mexico, Nigeria, Canada, and the Bologna countries really be a good use of our time during a very busy summer?  Well, it turns out that it was.  While my approach won’t change fundamentally, I feel better equipped to evaluate a transcript from a previously unfamiliar university.  Best of all, since we have new application readers every year, I learned about resources to which I can direct them.  All in all, a productive day (plus travel time) even if the blog went through a brief hiatus as a result.

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The fact that I didn’t write about my weekend yesterday or on Monday may have had you breathing a sigh of relief.  Alas, I’m not giving up so easy on my favorite blog topic — I just didn’t have time to do it justice.  Even today, I’m only going to mention two activities that were a little different from my usual.  The first was a bike ride on Sunday morning to Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford.  As we were riding through the tall reeds by the side of the Mystic River, Paul said, “It’s like being in….”  I couldn’t hear the end of his sentence, but it doesn’t matter.  Whatever he may have said, the point is that riding along the park path is certainly not like being close to a major roadway across from an auto dealer.  Our ride took an hour and a quarter, including some diversions, but it could easily be done in an hour or less from campus.

On the opposite end of the activity spectrum (earning calories, rather than burning them), Kayla and I made a pilgrimage to Verna’s Donut Shop in North Cambridge.  The Boston area has a high donut to population ratio, this being traditional donut country, and Verna’s takes you back to kinder, gentler donut days.  Plus, Verna’s donuts are delicious.  After drinking our coffees and eating our donuts (one plain, one glazed), we headed for the door, but not before indulging in an additional purchase, a whoopie pie.

That neighborhood of North Cambridge — given the way Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford nest together — is only a mile from campus, and it’s loaded with great little restaurants.  Walk over to Verna’s for a donut, and pick a place for a future dinner, too.


Last week, I pointed you to The Fletcher Forum, but the Forum isn’t the only location for learning what Fletcher students have to say.  Throughout the year, but particularly in the summer, many of them keep their own blogs.  Here’s a sampler (in no special order) of what they’re writing now.

Bernardo:  I am currently in Uganda working on a fish farming project in cooperation with Maple Microdevelopment, an Oregon based NGO.  I keep a blog that both gives regular updates on the progress of the project and shares my insights, more often guesses, on the country and the local culture. The blog also contains photos of the work I am carrying out.

Noah:  I’m in Guatemala this summer, and my blog follows research I’m undertaking for my MALD thesis, regarding the cultural impacts of large dams on indigenous communities.

Nathan:  My blog includes thoughts on international development work and my reflections on living abroad.

Ashirul (PhD student):  I’m trying to jump start this Tufts site, and the hope is to get other bloggers to post, too, in addition to just myself.  The blog is focused on inclusive commerce and financial inclusion.

Mallory:  I am in Rwanda this summer, working with Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights, a Rwandan non-profit that promotes good governance and the protection of human rights as a means of ensuring sustainable peace.  While here, I am helping to establish a mediation center and to coordinate the implementation of a Mobile Legal Aid Clinic, and am learning a mind-swelling amount about reconciliation and transitional justice — all of which will be recorded here!

Blake:  My bureau (Arms Control, Verification and Compliance) asked me to write a short post for the State Department blog on the President’s Speech in Prague in 2009 (calling for world without nukes, etc).

Katherine:  This is the Search for Common Ground blog, with a post I contributed from Rwanda.

Finally, not a blog, but student writing nonetheless.  Elia, who is interning this summer in Libya, sent a note on last week’s election to the Social List.  Under the subject line “I wish you all…” he wrote:

In this moment of jubilation in Tripoli, let me wish all of you the chance to experience — either directly for your own country, or indirectly through friends — a peoples’ first opportunity at political self-determination.

No matter the likely political troubles ahead, no matter democracy’s many flaws, no matter how much of a transitional government this new government in Libya will still be, the weight of today’s simple exercise is source of immeasurable joy in its own for millions of Libyans. You just can’t put it in words.

Witnessing fellow human beings go through something like this is truly extraordinary.

–A European who never had to fight with guns for the right to vote for his leaders.


The fact that most students are out and about doesn’t mean they’re not continuing to contribute ideas to the community.  Want to know what they’re thinking about the issues of the day?  Go to the website of the Fletcher Forum of World AffairsBurma, Iran, international engagement, and more!  Check it out.

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A quick note to say that the Admissions Office will be closed today for the Independence Day (4th of July) holiday.

Happy 4th to all who are celebrating!  We’ll be back in the office tomorrow.


Summer blogging is easy when I convince myself that writing about my weekend gives incoming or prospective students a glimpse of what’s happening around town.  Although Paul and I have our roots in larger cities (London and New York), we have lived in the Boston area for a long time, and I love the range of activities that are so easily accessible.  With that, I will now proceed to tell you about my busy weekend.

I was off from work on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll start my weekend rundown with Thursday.  After dropping my bicycle off to be tuned and running a few more errands, I headed over to Yoshi’s (Japanese food at moderate prices, right near campus) for lunch.  There, I met Helen Anderson from the Office of Career Services and another old Fletcher friend for a reunion.  The three of us hadn’t managed to get together in a long time, and we only barely managed to eat while maintaining a lively conversation covering all relevant topics.

After lunch, I went over to Hanscom Air Force Base to attend a ceremony honoring a friend and her work.  She has been a civilian with the Air Force for many years, but now she’s off to new adventures.  I have been near and around the base before, but never on it — a new adventure for me.

Thursday evening found us at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square for a concert (music and a dose of politics) by Billy Bragg.  Davis was hopping on a warm summer night!

Friday was taken over by domestic chores, but after dinner Paul and I met up with Kristen and her family (husband Sam and daughter Lucia) at the annual Cambridge Dance Party.  Little Lucia has some really special moves! But she also has an early bedtime, so off they went and Paul and I circled around, meeting up with a few friends.  We stayed long enough to see City Hall covered in lights.

On Saturday afternoon, we hopped on the T and walked along the Boston waterfront, viewing the tall ships that were in town for the Harborfest.

It’s a particularly big event this year, including both Navy Week and the tall ships with OpSail Boston, and coinciding with the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  I particularly liked this little boat.  If he eats well, he can grow up into a full-sized tugboat:

Along the way, we were distracted by the Institute of Contemporary Art and dashed in to see an exhibit of glassworks by Josiah McElheny.  The ICA is cantilevered over the harbor.

You see those people through the front window of the building?  Here’s their view:

Dinner was in Brighton (a neighborhood of Boston) with my cousin and my cousin’s cousins, including a two-week old baby whose mother is a double Jumbo (undergrad and Friedman).

Sunday morning, bright and early, Paul and I dashed up to our favorite beach in Revere.  I am Revere’s biggest fan — I love the ethnic mix on the beach whenever we’re there (primarily Russian spoken in the morning, Portuguese in the afternoon).  We grabbed breakfast at a local restaurant where I can always count on seeing a big group of long-time customers in the midst of lively conversation.

After lunch, Paul took Josh out to shop for appropriate clothing for his new workplace, and I took Kayla out to find the extra-long twin sheets and other things she’ll need for her college dormitory.  Back home in time to see Spain top Italy in the Euro 2012 Football Championship.  A busy weekend-plus, which supplied me with a blog post, and which I hope gives you a sense of how much can be done within a short distance of Fletcher.

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