Posts by: Jessica Daniels
At the end of the spring semester, Liam, one of our student bloggers, offered an end-of-year post. I eagerly grabbed it, but I’ve held it until now because it reflects both Liam’s first year at Fletcher and also his suggestions for incoming students. I’ll just note that Liam wrote his post when the Red Sox season was looking a little brighter than it is now!
Sitting here, finally having some time to reflect on the blur that is the spring semester, I’m at a loss to describe what an incredible experience my first year at Fletcher has been. A few words come to mind — demanding, challenging, (extremely) busy — but what it really boils down to is one of the most remarkable and rewarding years I’ve had. From making new friends, to learning an incredible amount about the world in which we live, to taking the time to really comprehend my life’s journey to this point, this year at Fletcher was incredible. Taking all that into consideration, I thought about the experiences I’m glad I’ve had both in and out of school, and I wanted to share a few “musts” for students at Fletcher.
1. Go to Fletcher events. From culture nights, to the Blakeley Halloween party, to The Los Fletcheros concerts, to simple gatherings of friends on a Friday, some of the best times to be had at Fletcher are outside the classroom. Taking the time to relax and get to know my classmates has been so incredibly rewarding. Time goes by pretty fast here and it will be over before you know it, so enjoy it while you can.
2. Go to the Boston Marathon. I was blessed with the opportunity to run this year through the Tufts Marathon Team, but if running for four(-ish) hours is not your cup of tea, experiencing the event is still an absolute must. Over a million fans lining the street for over 26 miles, coming together in support of the city and the runners, was just an indescribable thing to see. The Boston Marathon is, in my eyes, the most egalitarian sporting event in the world and it is not to be missed.
3. Go watch the Red Sox. I might be a bit biased as a life-long Sox fan, but anyone who spends time in Boston should experience Fenway Park. Especially after the Sox won the 2013 World Series, taking in an afternoon or evening at “America’s Favorite Ballpark” is a great distraction from school, and singing “Sweet Caroline” with 36,000 friends is pretty great, too.
4. Get to know Boston. Boston is so full of history and culture — it’s critical to get out and see it. Running along the Esplanade on the Charles River, exploring the Freedom Trail, relaxing at Boston Common, going to concerts — there is so much to do year-round in the city, so putting down the books and getting out is something you just have to do.
5. Get out of Boston. New England offers a ton of things to do. Whale watching off Cape Cod, skiing in Maine, hiking in New Hampshire, seeing the foliage in the fall, these are just a few of the awesome things this area of the country offers. Taking a backpacking trip out in the Berkshires during spring break was probably the most relaxing thing I’ve done in the past year, and it was vital to helping me reset to finish the semester strong.
In summary, it’s been an incredible year — one I wouldn’t trade for the world — and I’m looking forward to a 2014-15 academic year that is just as incredible and memorable.
Tagged with: Student Stories
The few students at Fletcher for the past two weeks were in the GMAP program, but they took off during the weekend. Next up for GMAP: the mid-program residency in Tallinn, Estonia for the students who started the program in March.
Though the GMAP students may have gone, the Fletcher staff is not alone this week. The MIB pre-session starts today!
All incoming MIB students are required to take the pre-session, but it is open to new and continuing students in other programs as well. The pre-session wraps up just in time for new student Orientation, meaning we’re within two weeks of a full house. I’m looking forward to it, even as I’m scrambling to wrap up some summer projects!
I’d like to draw your attention to the Fletcher Forum website, which includes several articles posted in recent weeks. (Forum writers and editors never rest!)
Click through the photos on the front page, and you’ll find:
The Peace Corps We Deserve, by Emily Cole
It Still Takes a Network: Defeating the Progeny of al-Queda in Iraq, by Travis Douglas Wheeler
How the Internet Became a Focal Point for Espionage, by James Lewis
A few weeks back, I pointed readers toward the book lists that I had compiled in past years for incoming students. Along the way, I was included (essentially for eavesdropping purposes) in an email discussion among a few professors, who were each considering what books might be included in a list of foundational readings for their corner of the International Affairs field. A more complete list may become a reality in the future, but for now, I wanted to share the introductory list.
Ian Johnstone, Fletcher’s academic dean, recommended this “short list of influential IR books that spill over into international law and organizations”:
Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics
Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Power and Interdependence
Martha Finnemore and Michael Barnett, Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics
Rosalyn Higgins, Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It
Prof. Joel Trachtman noted:
“I would recommend Rethinking Social Inquiry, edited by Henry Brady and David Collier, as an introduction to how we know and argue in social science. For an introduction to international law, there’s Sean Murphy’s Principles of International Law.”
Prof. Michael Klein wrote:
“For a background book, I would suggest Alan Blinder’s book on the financial and economic crisis, After the Music Stopped.”
Finally, for this very short list, Prof. Alan Henrikson said:
“My top candidate for inclusion on such a list now is Robert Gates, Duty, a truly instructive book about American government and much more, including personal ethics and the dilemmas of public policy.”
Naturally, I’m still not assigning reading for blog readers, but I wanted to share what I had learned.
Tagged with: Professors suggest
In case you missed it, Fletcher compiled a set of videos reflecting the Best of 2013-2014 at the School. (More specifically, the videos share some highlight moments from the year’s conferences and visitors.) Check ‘em out!
A few pieces of news worth sharing have passed my way recently.
First, Tufts University’s news service recently highlighted the thoughts of two Fletcher faculty members. In a recent “Tufts Now” newsletter, we read Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti‘s ideas regarding the future of money, and also Prof. Kelly Sims Gallagher‘s views on how the U.S. could take a lesson from China on competing in the clean-energy market.
For that matter, and this is actually BIG news that I have neglected, I should also note that Prof. Gallagher will be on leave from Fletcher in 2014-15 to work in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She is serving as Senior Policy Advisor and will be working on climate change and energy policy, as well as international climate policy. You can read more here.
This week, I heard from two continuing students whose writing has been picked up by major publications. Emily Cole wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times about health care for Peace Corps Volunteers, a topic the Times has been covering lately. Ameya Naik wrote a column for Mint, the Indian edition of the Wall Street Journal. He pointed out that one hyperlink in the piece (“modern terrorism”) takes you to a Huffington Post column by another continuing student, Tara Dominic. Ameya also has a blog, which is a combination of his own writing and compiled writing of other people.
Remember last spring’s Fletcher D-Prize winners, Andrew Lala and Tommy Galloway? Well, they’ve successfully converted their concept to a product and they are on the ground in Koudougou, delivering solar lanterns and electricity to rural communities in Burkina Faso! For updates and details about their products, check out Clair de Lune’s website or follow them on Twitter. As you read through the website, keep in mind that Andrew and Tommy only graduated in May. It’s fantastic to see them turn an idea into reality so quickly! I’m looking forward to reading more as their business gets rolling.
Tagged with: Business competitions
Blog posts have a short shelf life, and most readers don’t dig too deep into the archives. For that reason, I thought I’d share some of the most “liked” posts of this past year, as generated by the button below each post. Click on the photo below to take you to the original blog post or the feature series that it was part of.
First, and probably the blog post that has received the greatest number of “likes” ever, was Devon Cone’s report on her five years after Fletcher. It’s a lovely story that has drawn several particularly warm comments. If you enjoy reading about Devon’s post-Fletcher path, consider scrolling through all of the Five Year Updates.
Each of the posts in the Faculty Spotlight series was well received, and I couldn’t possibly choose among the professors, so I invite you to read all of their self-introductions. Click on Prof. Klein’s photo to the left, and then scroll through the posts I collected in 2013-2014. More to come this fall!
Incoming students have told me that they appreciated reading the stories of current students, and everyone was happy for Roxanne when she received the Presidential Award for Citizenship. To catch up with everything that Roxanne, Mirza, Scott, Diane, Liam, and Mark wrote this year, check out all the Student Stories.
Also informative for prospective students have been the updates from students in their first year post-Fletcher. Given the favorable response, I was proactive this year — I lined up a big bunch of students who graduated in May and who volunteered to write about the post-Fletcher career they hadn’t yet started. I’ll begin collecting the posts at the end of the fall. (As I write this, Margot’s post has exactly 100 likes.)
I enjoyed reading the posts students wrote about their activities during the academic year. I learned about things I had never even heard of! In addition to the post on the Human Rights Practicum, the one on the International Criminal Court Simulation was particularly well liked, but go ahead and check out the complete collection of Cool Stuff posts.
Finally, there were lots of likes for a few stories about particular students or alumni — posts that weren’t part of a blog feature series.
I don’t do it too often, but sometimes I can’t resist a nice wedding story. And with a Fletcher professor officiating at the ceremony, they don’t get much more Fletcherish than Megan and Sebastian’s event last summer.
The common element in nearly all these most-liked posts is that they were written by students, alumni, or professors. The few that I wrote myself tell the stories of students or alumni. That gives me a strong hint about areas on which to focus blog posts in 2014-2015!
Last Sunday, while I was doing a bit of cooking, I had good (and informative) company through the airwaves from Dean Stavridis, who was interviewed on NPR about the crisis in Ukraine. In any week, the dean can be found in a number of different forums, starting with his own blog and Twitter feed. He also has a new book coming out this fall. But the real reason for this short post is to bring your attention to a column he wrote for Time.com about his transition to an academic life. Among his other observations: “I went from the crisp efficiency of the U.S. military to what feels like, in comparison, the free-wheeling academic carnival that is higher education.” One year into his tenure as dean, Dean Stavridis seems to be thoroughly enjoying the “challenge of leading and mentoring young people, helping guide the trajectory of their lives in a positive direction,” despite the “startling shift” in his environment.
Tagged with: Dean Stavridis
This is a midweek version of one of my “what I did on my weekend” posts.
I was at Fletcher through the early evening last night, attending a farewell event for 11 high school students and one accompanying mentor teacher from Iraq. They were in the Boston area through the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), and the organization that arranged their Boston home stays also arranged for them to have the World Peace Foundation offices as their home base. When it came time to celebrate, I helped them arrange space and a meal at Fletcher.
My family connected itself to IYLEP in 2010, when my daughter was one of the U.S. students who, that year, participated alongside the Iraqis. We’ve continued as a host family, and Sara, Hiba, and Hadeel, the three students we hosted this month, join our four other Iraqi friends as members of the family. Along the way, I’ve gathered a volume of knowledge on halal butchers and restaurants in the area (as well as the rules for halal) and Iraqi tastes in food (nothing spicy, please). We’ve figured out where some potential host/IYLEPer challenges might exist, and we search for new ways to prevent misunderstandings. The men in my family know to announce themselves before going in the part of the house where women might be relaxing without their hijabs. The exchange of knowledge definitely goes both ways! And we also have fun — the beach, the Boston Harbor, the Museum of Fine Arts, two barbeques, trips to Indian/Pakistani and Italian restaurants, Chinese take-out (and many fortune cookies), three rounds of pasta, quesadillas, and quiche — all shared with our new friends.
At the farewell event last night, we started off by hearing the reflections of each of the participants. If I had to capture the overall theme, I’d say that that they were initially VERY nervous about their home stays, but they quickly found that their fears were misplaced, and now they see the Boston area as their U.S. home. After the speech-making, we shifted to Fletcher’s Mugar Café for a meal. When all had eaten, the group cleared a small space and started dancing. First, traditional Iraqi dancing. And then…a dozen teens dancing to “Gangnam Style” and doing the “Harlem Shake.” One of the boys pogoed around on one arm in a dazzling bit of break dancing. Such random bits of popular culture that have been embraced by Iraqi kids!
And then the event was over, and everyone went home to pack (and for some, repack, if bags were too heavy). We dropped them off this morning for their flight to the final phase of their stay in the U.S., when they will be in Washington, D.C.
It was such a pleasure to welcome the group and their host families to Fletcher. They searched out the Iraqi flag in the Hall of Flags, and I pointed out to some the profile of Farah Pandith F’95 — whose work I thought might interest them — in our new Hallway of Fame. All in all, last night and the two weeks that preceded represent one of those nice times when my work life and my home life fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.
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