Last month I needed to contact our volunteer interviewers and I used an email list that included recent grads.  Though I apologized for including them in the email, I also invited them to write about their post-Fletcher lives for the blog.  Instant success!  In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing reports from several of our newest alumni.  The first report comes from Ana Garcia, who reflects on her current work and provides some thoughts for our new students or applicants.

Ana FletcherMy first memory of Fletcher goes back to the day I entered the Hall of Flags.  I walked in, looked up, and there it was, the Fletcher flag!  I had finally made it: after all the effort, the paper work, and…a “suggestion” to take an English language course during the summer.  Two years and two months later, I find myself here, writing about my activities, now as a Fletcher graduate.

I belong to the amazing Class of 2013 MALD group, which included many like me who wondered how we were going to make it all the way to graduation day.  And like many of my classmates, I thought that I would fly out into the world right after getting my diploma.  Instead, Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston are still my home.  I currently work at Conflict Dynamics International, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on preventing and resolving violent conflicts.  My work here is linked to two extremely interesting projects: one that aims to identify the main constraints for humanitarian access in countries in conflict; the other one focused on violations of children’s rights in conflict and post-conflict settings.  It sounds like a Fletcher type of job :) and it is!  (Given, also, that most of my coworkers are former classmates.  Yep, the Fletcher alumni community starts close to campus.)

Staying in Boston, while many of my friends have left the city for Washington, DC, New York, or their home countries, was the first surprise of my life as a Fletcher grad.  The second surprise of my postgraduate life was realizing how intense being a Fletcher student was.  Suddenly, I have found myself with TIME: time to be by myself or with my friends, to walk, to watch endless t.v. shows.  Despite those feelings, I would never have missed all the all-nighters with my study groups (yes, you will have those), all those coffee refills, cultural nights, and house parties.  Fletcher is a place to learn, but also to live, to fail, and to challenge yourself.

Fletcher gave me the chance to do things and meet some of the most important people in my life, often not in class.  Organizing cultural nights, dancing the waltz, participating in debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or painting the cannon in pj’s are all things I encourage current students to do.  You may not know it yet, but you gain skills from those experiences that are as valuable in a work environment as any class you can take.

My summer has been extraordinarily fun, but also professionally rewarding.  I had the opportunity to collaborate in different interesting projects on negotiations and humanitarian aid while I also brushed up on my Arabic skills.  Boston has been, and currently is, the place where I will continue the transition toward that job for which I came to Fletcher, and this will happen during this Fall.  In the meantime, I have learned the most important lesson of all: Don’t rush, take your time, don’t be hard on yourself.  At Fletcher, we are all overachievers, smart and creative people.  We will do great things.  For now, I’ll be ready and open to the uncertainty, the world of opportunities and options that is out there.

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