Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Chapple-Sokol HeadshotThis week’s posts have come from a professor, a current student, and a member of the Class of 2008.  Today I’ll tell you about an alumnus whose career is quite unlike that of most of our alumni.  Sam Chapple-Sokol F’12 has been writing and publishing on the topic of culinary diplomacy ever since he took Prof. Henrikson’s Diplomacy: History, Theory, and Practice.  (Prof. Henrikson called Sam’s article, which grew out of a term paper, “an example and an inspiration, as to what can be done with a new idea, a scholarly interest, research knowledge, literary skill, and personal enterprise and follow-through.”)

In fact, it was Prof. Henrikson who brought Sam’s work to my attention, when he shared an update the community.  Sam had recently been interviewed on “The Splendid Table,” a nationwide NPR program about food.

For those who can’t take the time to listen to (or read the transcript of) the full interview, I’ll share Sam’s definition of culinary diplomacy.  He says, “I have defined culinary diplomacy, in a couple of pieces that I’ve written, as the use of food in cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding, in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation.  That’s an academic way of saying, using food to get along with people, to talk with people, and to get to know them better.”

I reached out to Sam for a little more detail on his post-Fletcher work, and for some photos.  He told me that he has been blogging and tweeting on culinary diplomacy (note that the Wikipedia entry actually refers to Sam), as well as continuing to write for publications, most recently for Public Diplomacy Magazine.  (The Public Diplomacy article drew some additional attention to his work.)  He has also worked at the White House as a pastry chef during two holiday seasons, and for other projects including celebrations for July 4, Halloween, the Inauguration, and the State Dinner during the visit of French President François Hollande.  When not putting his own culinary skills to work, he consults for Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, an elite organization for the personal chefs of heads of state.

So far as I can remember, Sam’s work is unique among Fletcher grads, but there are many other alumni (Michelle Kwan comes to mind), whose career paths are not attainable for incoming or current students.  So why highlight them in the Admissions Blog?  Because it’s great to have them in the student and alumni communities!  The diversity of experience among students in any classroom contributes to every student’s experience.  And if the student with unusual experience (and an even more unusual future career path) happens to be a pastry chef, all the better!  Finally, here are some photos from Sam’s work at the White House.

Sam and pastry chef

The model of the White House is edible! Weighing 350 pounds, it was made from a foundation of gingerbread and covered with white chocolate, according to the White House.

Sam in the White House garden

In the White House garden.

Sam and FLOTUS

Photo originally tweeted by the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” program.
https://twitter.com/letsmove

Sam and muppets

Relaxing with Muppets after the Let’s Move event.

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It’s a rare Fletcher student who pursues only one out-of-class activity, and our student bloggers are no exception.  First-year MALD student, Liam, is training with the Tufts Marathon Team to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon.  As many readers know, this year’s Marathon will be different from the norm, coming one year after the tragic events of 2013, and giving many runners a sense of mission that goes beyond their personal best times.  Here’s Liam’s report.

Marathon training

One of the incredible opportunities available to Fletcher students is the chance to join the Tufts Marathon Team and train for and run the Boston Marathon.  Each year, the Tufts Marathon Team gets 100 bib numbers for students, faculty, staff, and alumni from throughout the Tufts community to run the race.  With participants ranging from first-time runners to seasoned veterans of multiple marathons, Coach Don Megerle does an amazing job training and selecting the team, and he provides unmatched motivation and advice to ensure that all runners finish.  The team supports two long runs each week, as well as a weekly speed workout, and in the winter the team takes part in five long runs that cover the entire Marathon course.  By participating in these runs, Fletcher students can meet other graduate students from throughout Tufts, as well as undergrads and some great alumni and staff, helping us make connections to those we may not otherwise meet, outside the walls of Ginn library.  All runners raise money towards nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts University, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.  Since the Team’s inception in 2003, runners have raised over $4 million.

This year, obviously, the Marathon takes on even more significance than it normally does in the fabric of Boston.  The tragic events of April 15, 2013 united the Boston community, and each runner on the Tufts team is strongly committed to the event.  The stories of a few of this year’s 13 Fletcher runners speak to how incredible this year’s race will be.  Second-year Fletcher student Alex Nisetich sums up his Marathon story as follows:

I’m a Boston native, and the Marathon has always been a part of my life here.  I decided to run after last year’s attack, as a demonstration of solidarity with the runners and with my home city.  My own family narrowly missed being caught in the attack, and in a different year we could all have been there at the finish line.  I’m running because it feels like the best way I can support my community and commemorate the events of last year.

Training has become an end in itself as well.  Getting out on the road, especially first thing in the morning, is a great way to overcome any fears you might have of a New England winter.  The Fletcher community and Tufts are both very supportive of the runners, which makes it a pleasure to train.  The team runs really build camaraderie and make it fun.

Another second-year MALD student, Stéfane Laroche, shares a similar tale:

I have always enjoyed running and flirted with the idea of running a marathon for many years, however I never had the courage and the motivation to train.  Last year’s events at the Marathon changed my perspective.  The devastation happened so close to home that it touched me, and I decided to run in order to support the Boston Strong campaign.  When life knocks you down, you’ve got to be strong, pick yourself up, and continue to live.  It’s an honor for me to run with all those other marathoners who will pay tribute to last year’s victims and who will make a statement against intolerance and misunderstandings that fuel hatred and anger around the world.

For me, personally, I had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan when the bombing happened.  Growing up in Central Massachusetts, the attack hit home.  Although I had always run in the past due to my job as an Army officer, I never contemplated running another marathon after an ill-advised and untrained undergrad endeavor in 2005.  Running the 2014 Boston Marathon became an obsession for me, a way to show the world that we would not let this attack change who we are.  I trained for months and ran a marathon in October in nearby Lowell and felt ready to take on the world come the Boston race in April.  Then I began dealing with lingering knee and hip injuries, so my training has taken on its own personal journey, as I’ve worked to find ways to balance recovery with running and the ever-demanding life as a Fletcher student.  For me, the process has been an incredible voyage of learning about myself, what I value, how hard I will work for it, and what it means to stand as one for a community.

Although every runner’s story is different, one commonality is certain — all 37,000 runners who make that 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to the finish line on Boylston Street on April 21 will do so with some pain in their legs and sweat on their foreheads, but most importantly, with pride in their hearts.  With tens of thousands of supporters cheering us along the course, we will show the world what being Boston Strong is about.  Being able to be a part of this has truly been one of the more remarkable aspects of my time thus far at Fletcher.

Fletcher runners

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As a public service for admitted students, with the enrollment decision deadline approaching, I want to run through the Admissions Office schedule for the next few days.

Today, Wednesday, April 16:  Office open normal hours (9:00-5:00 EDT (GMT-4))

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 17:  Office open normal hours (9:00-5:00 EDT (GMT-4))

Friday, April 18:  Office open normal hours (9:00-5:00 EDT (GMT-4))

Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20:  Office closed for the weekend

Monday, April 21:  Office closed for the Patriot’s Day holiday

Tuesday, April 22:  Office reopens for normal hours

Note that enrollment decisions are due on Sunday, April 20, no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT.  And even though the office will be closed, the GAMS system cannot accept enrollment decisions after the deadline.  Do yourself a favor and make your final decision a few minutes before the deadline, so that you don’t need to worry about being locked out of the system.

Questions?  We’re here!!  Please take advantage of a staffed office today, tomorrow, and Friday to contact us with your questions and concerns.

 

Our next five-year update, and probably the last word from the Class of 2008, comes from Margherita Zuin, who was co-chair of the student Migration Group and conducted interviews for the Admissions Office during her time at Fletcher.  (I can still picture her coming in and out of the office.)  Here’s her update which, like the résumé of anyone working for the United Nations, is loaded with acronyms.

During my years in high school, migration from Africa started to become a common phenomenon in Italy.  It generated a myriad of political and legal debates and cultural challenges, not only in my country, but also in my head.  This is what initially triggered my interest in international law and pushed me, as a student, to volunteer for an NGO assisting migrants from North Africa.

After law school, my passion to see and understand more about the world led me to Ecuador to provide assistance to Colombian refugees and to fight violence against women in Quito for Amnesty International.  I then interned with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with a focus on Italy’s role within the United Nations and development cooperation in Asia and Latin America.  As a paid trainee at the European Commission in Brussels, I focused on food security in African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries before traveling to Jordan for my first assignment with the United Nations.  I joined UNIFEM (the United Nations Development Fund for Women) in Amman, where I implemented programs to support the elections and constitution-making process in Iraq.

These experiences made me realize that I wanted to keep working in international affairs, but also that I wanted to further my understanding of the complex approaches and strategies needed to address them.  I had heard of Fletcher from alumni and, after having an informal interview with Laurie Hurley, the School’s director of admissions, I realized that Fletcher was the perfect place for me.  The combination of academic- and professional-oriented courses was exactly what I was looking for.

Margherita2
My classes and professors at Fletcher taught me skills that I have put into practice since graduation.  My Fields of Study were Human Security, Humanitarian Studies, and Law and Development.  I still refer back to the impressive professional experiences shared in class by Professors Sarkin and Aucoin.  From Professor Church, I learned the importance of always asking the “So what?” question, and I continue to use the gender lens analysis taught in Professor Mazurana’s course.  My summer internship conducting research on formal and informal justice systems in Central Somalia, as well as the fascinating discussions in Professor Johnstone’s “Peace Operations” class on the political, legal, technical, and logistical challenges to deploy and work in conflict and post-conflict situations, were fundamental to my career choice.

Since graduating in 2008, I have been working for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations.  For 2.5 years, I served in UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur) as Associate Gender Officer working on the political process, gender justice, and capacity-building of national institutions.  In 2011, I joined the Standing Police Capacity of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), a rapidly deployable team of experts based in Brindisi (Italy), tasked to start up new operations or assist existing ones.  In my capacity as Legal Officer, I deployed to UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) to help with the establishment of the Mission’s Rule of Law and Security Institutions Support Office.  My work focused on addressing prolonged, arbitrary detention, and ensuring coordination of the various United Nations and national actors of the justice chain.

Since May 2012, I have been based at United Nations Headquarters in New York, first as a Judicial Affairs Officer in the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service (CLJAS) of OROLSI, and then as a Political Affairs Officer in the Front Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions.  The work at Headquarters has allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the political dynamics and decision-making processes in the rule of law area in particular, but also of the United Nations system as a whole.  In the near future, I hope to serve again in the field.

I use the academic knowledge and professional skills acquired at Fletcher every single day.  I can also see the strength of the Fletcher community, not only because so many Fletcher alumni work in the United Nations, but also because creating  partnerships, being committed to make a contribution, and building a sense of community have been essential aspects of my life in peacekeeping, especially in my field assignments.

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Today’s post comes from Leila Fawaz, Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies.  Prof. Fawaz holds a dual appointment between Fletcher and the Department of History at Tufts.  She currently teaches The Arabs and their Neighbors and War and Society in the Middle East in Historical Perspective.

Leila FawazWhen I started my teaching career in the early 1980s, I used to tell my students that Turkey was not a Thanksgiving dinner, but a country of great importance.  Today, I do not need to worry about our students knowing where Turkey or other countries of that region are.  The Middle East is at the center of world affairs and every high school student, and certainly any advanced student, knows of its crucial importance to the United States and to the rest of the world.  It is unfortunate that perennial conflicts have triggered much of our current awareness of the interdependence of all parts of the globe, yet I find it deeply rewarding to teach at The Fletcher School, where students and faculty are committed to global awareness, and where we can pursue further knowledge at the highest level of scholarship.

I love Fletcher because of its openness to different viewpoints and its commitment to internationalism.  Faculty and staff are aware that our students, who come from all over the world, are our most prized charge.  Students learn from one another, expose one another to different cultures and ways of thinking, and learn to respect viewpoints that they do not necessarily agree with.  All of us at Fletcher are exposed to diverse cultures on a daily basis and are better teachers, and people, for it.  We, the faculty, come from different disciplines, which adds a rare and important intellectual dimension to our ability to communicate with colleagues who, at other schools and institutions, are dispersed throughout departments and do not have the privilege of working together closely, on a continuous basis, as we do.

Not that I ever thought I would devote my career to education.  I came to the United States in the 1970s to complete my graduate education, as so many people from other countries do, fully expecting to return to my home country of Lebanon.  I never planned to have a career, and there was no pressure on me to get more education.  Very simply, I loved to read and continued to do so until I found myself with the highest degree I could possibly get, a Ph.D.  After that, I discovered that research continued to fascinate me and teaching energized me, so I forged forward, a bit haphazardly, in a wonderful career that brought me many rewards.  The primary reward is the privilege of getting to know students who are as international and as challenging as ours are.

In graduate school, I sometimes thought that what I had to say was not important enough to express loudly, only to hear the student next to me express similar ideas with confidence.  I learned that we cannot wait for perfection to get involved and that the best way to improve oneself and others is to do just that, by following one’s passions.  Do not worry about taking “practical” courses that will improve your career.  Study what you love; you will excel, and then you can learn how to acquire any additional skills you need.  By studying at Fletcher, you’ll learn to follow your passion intellectually in a rich and energizing community, united in its love of the School and its trust in your future.

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I often say that I would feel a lot more intelligent if I didn’t work at Fletcher, where everyone else is so smart!  But as brainy as our students are, the fact is that everyone can use a little help sometimes.  In addition to a generally supportive environment, there are several options that students can draw upon to maximize their academic success.

For many years now, Fletcher has offered a writing program, through which students can schedule appointments with peer tutors.  The program invites students to “Make the semester less stressful by meeting with the writing tutors.  Use tutoring appointments to make big papers more manageable — set personal interim deadlines with the tutors to discuss your outline, partial drafts, structure, argumentation, etc.”  The program director also provides helpful worksheets on peer editing (“Swapping papers with a friend is a smart strategy because everyone’s work benefits from an editor!  Plus, editing others’ papers will make you a better writer.”) and reverse outlining (“Because drafted papers often need to be restructured to be more persuasive and logical.  Reverse outlining helps you take the content you’ve already created and organize it more effectively.”).

A newer support offering is Presentation Tutors.  Inviting students to sign up, our Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Mary, notes, “Developing strong public speaking and presentation skills is an essential part of your Fletcher education. Whether you are preparing for a class presentation, a panel discussion, or a guest lecture, your ability to express yourself clearly and articulately will be vital to your success.”  The Presentation Tutors program provides one-to-one support for students who would like to:

  • Create, practice or polish an oral presentation
  • Learn techniques to strengthen their personal speaking style (body and voice)
  • Learn how to use PowerPoint effectively in presentations
  • Overcome fears, gain personal confidence, and develop a smooth, polished speaking style

Ultimately, success at Fletcher depends on good preparation and command of course material, but the opportunity to find help when needed in writing or presentations is of great value for our diverse community of students.

 

Winners of two different competitions were announced this week, and one Fletcher team was successful in both!  This exciting news calls for two Cool Stuff blog entries in two days.  Here’s an announcement from Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti:

Tommy and AndrewPlease join me in congratulating Andrew Lala, F’14 and Tommy Galloway, F’14 as the winners of the inaugural Fletcher D-Prize: Poverty Solutions Venture Competition.  Andrew and Tommy will receive $15,000 (and tens of thousands more in non-monetary advice and networks) to help them pilot their Clair de Lune – Solar Light Distributor Platform, which uses existing bus infrastructure and cultural remittance practices to reach the rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa.  This summer, Andrew and Tommy will bring this “poverty solution venture” to 400 families in Burkina Faso.  Fletcher D-Prize judges believe that, in two years, Andrew and Tommy will have an impact on the world by proving that you can provide energy to over 100,000 families living on less than a few dollars a day.

We hope that this award, and the competition among a large number of very strong proposals, signals that Fletcher prepares leaders adept not only at crossing borders of all kinds – disciplinary and geographic – but also with the ability to jump across the border of knowledge into entrepreneurial action.  We aspire to develop and facilitate international ninjas, if you will.  Andrew and Tommy are two terrific examples of such international ninjas. A family that buys a solar lamp saves money on energy expenses and is more productive outside of daylight hours.  Household incomes often increase 15-30%.  Study hours for children rise by two hours. Solar lamps also erase the far too common dangers that come with kerosene lanterns.

The award will be presented to Andrew and Tommy today, only two days after they received an “audience choice” award at the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, at which they were finalists (shown in photo above).

This is the 10th anniversary for the Tufts $100K, which prompted a look back.  BostInno selected Educate Lanka as one of the top six ventures to come out of the Tufts $100K competition.  Congratulations to our good blog friend Manjula!

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Today we have a short description of one of the best activities I learned about when I asked students to tell me what they’ve been doing this academic year.  Erin provides the details, along with a photo I love.  (Doesn’t everyone pack a Fletcher flag when they travel to Europe?)

From March 26-31, eight other Fletcher students and I participated in an International Criminal Court simulation in Krzyzowa, Poland.  I first heard about this opportunity from another Fletcher student who had connections with the organization, and she put us all in contact with the program’s organizer.  Through this Fletcher connection, we had the opportunity to fly to Poland and join a multinational team of individuals studying international affairs and law from countries all around the world, including Poland, Germany, Serbia, Myanmar, and Georgia.  Through the simulation, we worked to prosecute, defend, and judge cases concerning genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  The program was organized by the German Kreisau-Initiative and the Polish Krzyzowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe and it generously provided funding for our accommodations and transportation to Poland.  As a first-year MALD student focusing on human rights and international organizations, this opportunity is a perfect complement to my current coursework which includes International Criminal Justice and Understanding Mass Atrocities.

Poland group with flag

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Well, we finished off yesterday’s Open House in fine style, waving off a few of the last visitors (and their luggage) at about 6:00.  Each of us Admissions folk agreed that the sessions we attended went very well.  Adding it all up, we consider the day to have been a success.

Poking around the blog last week, I found a few posts that I had forgotten about, and that might be helpful for admitted students (and future admitted students) who didn’t attend the careers sessions at the Open House.  In 2010, I asked the Office of Career Services staff to describe their work.  Each member of the OCS staff focuses on a sector that is a typical objective for Fletcher students.  Though there are new names attached to some of the sectors, Phillip, the OCS director (and a participant in Admissions Committee meetings) confirms that the structure of responsibilities is the same.  So, below, please find links to past blog posts on OCS’s approach to sector coaching.

Of course, 2010 employment statistics aren’t very relevant now.  To round out the picture, you’ll want to check more recent career reports.

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Open House balloonsWe’re hosting our newly admitted students today and the place is jumpin’.  It’s only about 11:45, and we’ve already had an alumni panel and reception (o.k., those were last night), a welcome session, and break-out sessions for each of the degree programs.  Visitors are currently either grabbing some lunch, attending a panel discussion with current students, hearing from the Office of Career Services, or engaging in a roundtable discussion with the folks from the International Environment and Resource Policy or with Students in Security Studies.  And so it will go, for the rest of the afternoon.  Liz did an amazing job of organizing roughly one bazillion sessions for the day.  And balloons.  She also organized the balloons.

I have just these few minutes to write this post, check my email, etc.  Then I’m off to a lunch discussion on international economics.  I fully intend to learn something while I’m there.  (A perk of the job.)  This is an annual event that, while exhausting, gives meaning to our work throughout the winter and early spring.  It’s such a treat to put together names and faces!

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