Posts by: Jessica Daniels

The pre-session students are here, but they’re too busy and/or new to be making news, which leaves me grasping for a topic for today’s post.  I’ve reached into my magic bag of possible blog topics and pulled out a few notes on staff and faculty.

First, from one of the monthly updates we receive, news of a staff member who is also a Fletcher graduate:

Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director of educational programs at the Fletcher School’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, was senior faculty at an intensive week-long executive education program, the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability. The course, held every June in the Netherlands in partnership with the Sustainability Challenge Foundation, is designed for mid-career professionals mostly from developing countries. The training focuses on the mutual gains approach to negotiation and consensus building for sustainable development conflicts. The goal of the trainings is for professionals from many different sectors to be better able to achieve sustainable development goals through effective stakeholder engagement and negotiation.

Mieke conducts several training sessions each year, and was in South Africa earlier in the spring for a similar program.  The Center for International Environment and Resource Policy has a particularly active research and practice agenda.

Next, a Tufts Now story about the (relatively) new director of the The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Dr. Nadim Shehadi.  In the article, he notes that The Fares Center is important “because profound misunderstanding of the complexities of the Middle East is prolonging suffering and violence. The center could help frame discussion about the region, taking advantage of the Fletcher School’s international reputation and its alumni, who are influential in every corner of the globe.”

In faculty news, last spring, a student pointed out that Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, F83, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (Helsinki Commission), “speaking on genocide denial, ‘memoricide’ and the industry of denialism.  The Congressman who spoke after her mentioned that he’s never heard the subject explained so well.”

And, finally, Professor Jeswald Salacuse sent us a link to a long video interview with a Hawaii television program that he did on his most recent book, Negotiating Life.  The interview is interesting, and Fletcher is one of the stars.  It originally ran some time back, but I’m making up for having never included it on the blog.


Following a few weeks during which it received a refreshing, the application for admission to all Fletcher programs in January or September 2016 is now available.  Most 2016 applicants will greet this news with a shrug: they’re planning to apply, but the deadline seems so far away and they don’t see any special reason to do anything just yet.

I would encourage you to resist this line of thinking.  Instead, take a look at the application and note what’s involved.  You can work on it at whatever pace you choose, but you’ll benefit from knowing the requirements and the questions asked on the application form.  Once you’ve checked it out, you can start compiling the information you need.  As we get closer to whatever deadline you are aiming for, you’ll be glad to have moved ahead.


It’s hard for us to believe, but today will be the last day of a mostly student-free Hall of Flags.  On Monday, the pre-session begins, bringing MIB students and those interested in Design, Monitoring and Evaluation onto campus, ahead of the new students who will attend Orientation on August 31 and the returning students who will arrive a week later.  The pre-session students stay pretty busy throughout the day — they won’t be hanging out in the Admissions Office — but their arrival is still a marker in the wrap-up of summer.

Liz and I walked out of the building together yesterday and we agreed that we feel like we worked pretty steadily throughout the summer, but we’re still going to need to scramble to finish all the summer tasks.  No big deal.  A little scrambling never hurt anyone, and we both have vacation weeks in front of us.

Mostly, we’re really looking forward to meeting the students we talked about in Admissions Committee meetings last winter, and to hearing about the summer activities of the returning students.  It will be great to have students in the building, keeping the place lively.  If we’re lucky, we’ll also manage to finish off all the summer work first.


Tufts Now ran a nice profile recently of Joyce Aluoch, F08, a graduate of the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP).  Read about her path, starting from when her father chose her career for her, to the seat on the ICC.  Her enrollment in the GMAP program turned out to be perfectly timed to her career advancement.


It’s a rainy day today, so I’m going to think back to my weekend.  I never have enough time to write about our great neighborhood once the academic year begins, and I enjoy writing about my own weekend.  Thus…

The weekend was dedicated to showing off the city to visitors and seeing things through their eyes.  As we’ve done for the past few years, our family is hosting students in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program.  The kids are busy all day Monday to Friday, but off we went on Friday evening (after their program activities) to meet another host family and introduce five Iraqi boys to Chinese food.  While at the restaurant, we made plans with the same family and kids for Saturday and Sunday.  (Coincidentally, two of the boys who ended up placed in Boston go to school together in Iraq.)

The WaveFirst stop on Saturday was the Museum of Fine Arts.  This was our choice, in part, because it was the final weekend for an amazing exhibit of the works of the Japanese artist, Hokusai.  But the final days of an exhibit can draw crowds, so we quickly made our way to the Art of the Ancient World (especially the Near East), where one of the boys asked how it was possible that all these artifacts had ended up in Boston.  Good question.  The MFA website gives particularly good explanations of the provenance of the pieces, but there are also signs in the galleries.

Following a fly-through visit to the modern art and impressionist painting galleries, the group was off to the Prudential Center “skywalk” to check out the vistas.  It was a terrifically clear day, and the view extended north into New Hampshire.

After a brief stop at home, we were off again to cheer on our Boston Breakers — the local team in the National Women’s Soccer League.  There are always plenty of families at Breakers games, but there was a striking number of young professionals as well.  And why not?  The price is right, and the location is convenient.  Plus, between the two teams, there were several players who had competed in the summer’s World Cup.  We suggested to our guests that they cheer along as if they had always supported the Breakers.  Thanks to our support (and some great goalkeeping), the Breakers managed a 2-1 win.

On Sunday, more activity.  We caught a ferry downtown to George’s Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park.  The day started cloudy but skies cleared at about noon, leaving us several sunny hours to explore the old Civil War fort and for the boys to play soccer and fly a kite.  The view of the skyline from the ferry was terrific.  All-in-all, a great way to mix fun, relaxation, and exploration of the city.

On Monday, I came to work to rest.

Despite the exhaustion that accompanies running around town with a team of 17-year-old boys, it’s always a pleasure to share the city with out-of-town friends.  I never forget how much I enjoy living here, but I’m happy to have a great weekend remind me to appreciate it.


Without realizing how much I would enjoy it, I accepted an invitation to the program completion ceremony for the Tufts English language course that some of our incoming students attended this summer.  For the past six weeks, they have been working on their research, writing, speaking, and presentation skills, in order to prepare for Fletcher classes.  While accomplishing those primary missions of the program, they also had a chance to meet lots of the Fletcher cast of characters (the dean, the international student advisor, a research librarian, current and recently graduated students), and generally learn their way around town.

The ceremony reflected a successful program, with smiles and hugs all around.  So, although they haven’t yet matriculated, a small group of incoming students has already experienced its first graduation.


Now and then, I hear about a Fletcher graduate’s current work, whether or not I knew the alum well as a student.  While I was thinking about what to write today, I remembered hearing about Envoys, the venture launched by Seth Leighton, F12, and two classmates from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), where he pursued a degree before Fletcher.  Seth serves as Executive Director of Envoys, which works with schools to offer trips and global education programming.  (One of the trips is to Sri Lanka, where the students observe the work of Educate Lanka, the NGO started by Manjula Dissanayake, F12, Seth’s Fletcher classmate.)

The way Seth has woven the Fletcher and HGSE aspects of his education together to create his new career strikes me as an especially good example of where a dual degree can be valuable.  His TEDx talk provides further insight into his perspective on global education.


One of the most loyal friends the Admissions Office could hope for is about to embark on a new adventure.  Han Kim, F10, has had a varied pre- and post-Fletcher career in Korea.  This past year, in addition to working for a start-up company, he has dedicated himself to training for an around-the-world yachting event, the Clipper Round the World Race.  His path was recently featured in an article in the English language Korea Herald and on its website.

Han was a student member of the Admissions Committee, and he has been a great friend as an alumnus, helping to welcome several years’ worth of newly admitted students to the Fletcher family with receptions in Seoul.  He was an active participant in the community during his student days, too, and was featured in the Admissions Blog a couple of times, most notably when he participated in the Boston Marathon.(

The Clipper Round the World Race starts on August 30.  Han is a member of the Clipper Telemed+ crew, for those who want to follow the results over the 335 days he anticipates being at sea.Han(Photo from the Clipper Round the World Race website.)


While the blog shared the favorite destinations of my Admissions pals last week, I was taking a few days off to explore some of those same destinations.

On Wednesday, along with Gov. Charlie Baker (who was in the audience), my husband, Paul, and I went to Shakespeare on the Common, which Liz had recommended.  What King Lear lacks in cheer, the location more than compensated for.  The photos below are of my views at dusk to my left and in front of me.  “Future strife may be prevented now,” indeed.  Shame that the King didn’t have this curtain in front of him before the action began.

Towers and stage

My days off included two trips to Walden Pond.  Once on my own, because it’s my favorite place for open-water swimming, and once with my daughter, Kayla, for a relaxing end of the day on Friday.  We swam a bit, watched a very large turtle that came up on the shore, and resisted the lure of the ice cream truck that awaits visitors on their way back to their cars.

Walden visit
I also went twice to my favorite urban beach, Revere.  In addition to an early morning visit for Paul and me, we went with the whole family on Saturday night for dinner at our favorite Cambodian Restaurant, Thmor Da.  (Check it out — such delicious food!  We even ran into the chef/owner of another restaurant there.)  We followed up dinner with ice cream and a walk to check out the sand sculptures that remained after the annual contest a week or so ago.

Spirit of Boston
In addition to these tried-and-true favorite destinations, on Thursday, Paul and I did a one-day three-state (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine) field trip to visit (or revisit) some coastal locales.  Without a clear destination in mind, we headed up Rt. 95, deciding to go as far as Kittery, Maine, where we stopped briefly to check out the shops.  Then we turned back south to Portsmouth, NH for lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery.  Portsmouth — such a cute town!  I’m sure we’ll be back for another day trip, but this time we had other ports of call on the agenda.

Continuing south, we stopped (as Dan recommended) at Hampton Beach.  It was very hot, so we wandered briefly among the arcades, meandered onto the beach, and enjoyed a cold drink before moving on.  Just enough of a visit to get the feel of the place.

Hampton Beach
Last stop?  The Massachusetts state park at Salisbury Beach.  Cool breezes.  Even colder water.  But a lovely place to end a summer day of exploration.

On the spectrum of mountain people to beach people, I’m squarely among the beach people.  Either way, the local area offers plenty of great places to visit.  I recommend that incoming students should plan a visit or two for the early part of the semester, when the weather is at its best, and the coursework is still manageable.


Many Fletcher students arrive with families in tow, and Kristen provides the perfect summer (or fall) suggestion for them.

My summer might be slightly less adventurous than some of my colleagues, but with good reason: I have two young children, so every day is its own special kind of adventure.  However, we still manage to have a lot of fun as Boston is a wonderful city for families.  Some of our top choices:

We’ll hit our favorite spray parks (parks with sprinklers) frequently — Artesani and Beaver Brook.  A new one on our must-go list is Palmer State Park, which has both great hiking and sprinklers for the kids.

There are quite a few public (free!) pools around, but one of my favorites for easy accessibility (right on the red line of the T) is the McCrehan Memorial Pool in Cambridge.  Also near to campus is Dilboy pool, which offers season passes.

We also like going to nearby beaches.  Sandy Beach (also called Shannon Beach is close and easy for a quick drive.  For a longer day, Wingaersheek Beach is perfect for kiddos, as the water is calm and shallow.  Followed up by a visit to a local clam shack, this is the perfect New England day.

Next, Christine describes a great place that should be on everyone’s weekend list for September/October.

Summer in Boston is my favorite time of year.  Yes, all the seasons are lovely (even winter has its charms), but summer in the city really reminds me why I have made this place my home.  I have a long list of favorite activities, but one that is high on my list is the South End Open Market @SOWA.  SOWA Market is the trifecta of summer fun with an arts market, farmer’s market, and food truck area all rolled into one convenient location.  The best part may be that the market is open until October, so you can stretch out the summer fun into the school year!  (For your local knowledge, SOWA refers to South of Washington Street.)

In the arts market you can find all sorts of handmade treasures by local artists.  I am particularly fond of the artists who make greeting cards and other paper products.  The farmer’s market is home to local produce, fresh pasta, meat and eggs, and plenty of other confections.  I am always finding something new to indulge in!  Make sure you bring some cash and re-useable bags.  While even the smallest farm stands seem to take credit cards now, it is always good to have some cash on hand.

The food truck section alone is worth the trip.  My favorites include: The Dining Car, The Bacon Truck, and Tenoch (which also has a brick and mortar location right by Fletcher and another one on the way!).  The trucks are set up so you can wander through and eat as much or as little as you like.

Hope you find some time to spend at SOWA!  You can always stop by the office to share any new treats you get!

Those are the summer suggestions from my Admissions pals.  Because there’s still plenty of time for me to offer my own picks this summer, I won’t provide a specific suggestion today.  But what I’d like to point out is that Boston, and even the “greater Boston area” is a wonderfully manageable size.  Within an hour are coastal locations as diverse as Hampton Beach (Dan’s pick) and Wingaersheek Beach (Kristen’s rather calmer suggestion).  There’s theater in the round (Laurie’s North Shore Music Theatre) and theater outdoors (Liz’s Shakespeare on the Common).  Even students who regularly get out into the community will barely scratch the surface of all there is to do here. 

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