Posts by: Jessica Daniels
I’m back with my next Open House Report. Since my first dispatch, I kicked off my personal Open House activities by working the registration table, one of my favorite places to hang out. (I love being busy.) I left my post for just a minute to take this picture.
Then, I heard some words of welcome, including from first-year MALD student Juanita.
From there, I left the Hall of Flags to sit in on the panel for admitted PhD students. Panel is perhaps a bit of an overstatement since we had two Fletcher staffers, two current students, and two admitted students. (So it goes with a very small PhD program.)
Much more panel-like were the presentations for MALD/MA and MIB students. Alas, I don’t know what happened there, beyond the sharing of information.
Then, back to the office for walk-in office hours. It’s always nice to be asked a challenging question. I’ve worked in Admissions for a long time, but there’s no shortage of topics on which I can be stumped. Today’s meetings included two conversations on complicated topics.
Everyone is off at lunch now, and I’m minding the shop. I’m due to be here for more office hours later, but I’ll try to take a minute to drift over to lunch, at least for the presentation by Career Services.
But perhaps you’d like an overall view of what’s happening today. Allow me to share the email that Liz, our Open House guru, sent to the staff on Friday.
A final update before our event kicks off this weekend! We will be welcoming 122 admitted students and six guests Sunday evening, and 134 admitted students and nine guests on Monday.
We will be hosting eight topical roundtables, 22 class visits options, three sets of walk in hours, three student panels, four programmatic sessions, plus tours and the student club fair (where we have 30 clubs participating)! It should be quite a day!
I’m sure Liz would join me as I close with a word of thanks to the weather for cooperating today. It’s sunny and mild — perfect for a busy visit.
If I can file a late-afternoon report, I’ll do so. Let’s see how the next rounds of walk-in office hours go!
Tagged with: Open House
We’re revving up for today’s Admitted Students Open House (OH). Admissions staff here early? Check. Muffins and coffee ready? Check. “Fletcher Orange” jelly beans available for snacking? Multi-check.
I’m going to try to report back throughout the day, whenever I have a free minute in the office. That minute may not come until everyone goes to lunch, when I’m going to hang back and staff the office to take questions. More soon, I hope!
Tagged with: Open House
Wednesday’s survey yielded a bunch of useful questions and topics for the blog! Today, Ariel takes on the first of the questions I passed her way.
Dear Ariel: Now that I am admitted, and the more I read about Fletcher courses, I feel that I would like to take way more classes than I can fit into two years. Is it o.k. to use the first semester to look into several subjects and decide on Fields of Study in the second semester?
The number of interesting and intriguing classes at Fletcher can at times be overwhelming! In addition, it can be hard to narrow down Fletcher’s 23 Fields of Study into the two Fields needed to complete your depth requirement. There are just so many fascinating topics to pursue! Your options are really endless when you add in the option to self-design your own field of study. However, I would say it is definitely okay to use the first semester to narrow down your interests. Just make sure, if you are branching out into new areas you may not specialize in, that those courses also satisfy some of your breadth requirements.
It is definitely smart to start narrowing your options early, though, to make sure you are able to complete your course requirements within your two years at Fletcher. So start off your first semester with four possible Fields of Study, not nine. Because some courses are only offered in the spring and others are only offered in the fall, the earlier you make a plan for your two years, the better. Also, just because you don’t have room for a special topic in your course schedule doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it during your time at Fletcher. With all the speakers and events put on by student organizations, you’ll definitely have the opportunity to expand your knowledge and interests.
In this installment, Student Stories blogger Roxanne shares some of the academic rituals she has started developing at Fletcher, including her experiences attending conferences and workshops in her field of study.
I have written about the “exhale” I associated with the feeling of semi-permanence that a two-year Master’s degree program afforded me, after a few years of relatively nomadic work abroad. In addition to the content of the learning, I looked forward to the rituals and rhythms of an academic life — ranging from establishing traditions as simple as having a favorite library desk (mine: on the 3rd floor by the windows) or having a studying playlist, to finding an academic mentor and crafting papers word-by-word and footnote-by-footnote. Academia differs from field work in conflict management not only on account of the different kinds of impact these sectors make, but also in terms of the lifestyles they entail.
In the past month, I have had the privilege of indulging in another beloved – or dreaded, depending on your level of dorkiness and/or outlook – academic ritual: the conference. The Fletcher School and Tufts at large are bursting at the seams with summits, conferences, and workshops this spring, but some of us have been traveling beyond this community as well. Shortly after the DC Career Trip, I went to New York to attend “Deconstructing Prevention,” a conference on the prevention of mass atrocities. What drew me to the event was a panelist list full of the authors whose work I footnoted regularly, and the practitioners of genocide prevention whose articles I have bookmarked for years. Therein, for me, lies one of the greatest sources of exhilaration about returning to an academic environment, after a few years as a practitioner of conflict management around the world: One can, even for a few days, be in the presence of, or in conversation with, the individuals who shape the direction of their field of work, study, and interest. What was previously a remote and theoretical study can become an interaction and a present conversation, in ways that humanize intellectual pursuits and spark curiosity.
In a sense, what I describe above is similar to the feeling I had when I arrived at my first field placement as a gender and conflict management professional in Egypt. At the time, I was craving a more intimate look into the questions I had been studying from afar, a diminishing of the distance I perceived between me and impact. Returning to academia – even if this is a temporary return – has cast new distance between me and field work, but has placed me closer to the minds who form much of the discourse in this field. A lot of the explorations remain theoretical in their content, but being in the same geographic area as many academics and practitioners has motivated me to ask more questions, establish more mentoring relationships, and seek to learn from and alongside anyone who can share their knowledge.
In addition to Deconstructing Prevention, I had the pleasure of attending “Advocacy in Conflict,” a terrific week of events planned by the Fletcher School’s World Peace Foundation. The public event and closed seminars drew together many human rights advocates, humanitarian personnel, journalists, and academics. Later this semester, I hope to attend a conference on gender and armed conflict, an event on public speaking, and a workshop on gender mainstreaming. Fletcher’s location in the vibrant academic community of the Boston area is conducive to these explorations. Additionally, Fletcher makes available a small amount of discretionary funding to students who wish to attend conferences, enabling us to learn from our peers and other institutions. Next time you see me at a conference, please do say hello!
Two more-or-less administrative comments today. The first is a NEW SURVEY! Before I blah-blah-blah all spring about the subjects that I think are relevant to newly admitted students or prospective future applicants, I want to ask you to tell me what you really want to know. The survey is only three questions, so please consider giving me some direction for future blog posts.
And then I want to offer an apology on behalf of my Admissions pals and me for any delays in responding to your email messages. Personally, I have felt good to be only about two days behind the contents of my inbox, but the email flow is a hot topic of discussion among the staff. Sometimes answering a question involves a trip to the Registrar’s Office or zapping a question to a professor. Ideally, we would send you a note to tell you the research is in progress. Even if we don’t, please give us a couple of days to get back to you. If you have a time-sensitive question, or if we’re just taking longer than is reasonable, please email us again with a reminder. No need to write to someone else. (And don’t worry — we don’t take offense at a gentle timely reminder.)
Back to my inbox! Looking forward to your suggestions in the survey.
Today, I’m launching a new feature on the blog: Five-Year Updates. Think of it as a conversation among alumni at their five-year reunion. I started with the class of 2007, though graduates from that year are, in fact, soon approaching their six-year mark. The alumni writers were asked to describe their path, starting before Fletcher, then through the Fletcher years, and finishing with their post-Fletcher lives. The first Update comes from Ben Micheel.
Prior to Fletcher, most of my professional experience was in the private sector at consumer packaged goods companies. Eventually I made my way back over to Berlin, Germany where I had studied as an exchange student when I was an undergrad at the University of Washington. In Berlin I worked as a marketer for Coca-Cola, as an intern for the German Bundestag, and finally (after my acceptance to Fletcher) as a bike tour guide. Many of my American co-workers at the Bundestag were enthusiastically applying to APSIA grad schools, and I was curious to look into what they were so excited about. My undergrad degree is in business, so I didn’t have any interest in going the pure MBA route. Once I discovered the resources available to me at Fletcher, I knew it was my logical next step. So the week before Labor Day in 2005, I moved to Boston (sight unseen – I’m from a suburb of Portland, Oregon) and started my MALD.
At Fletcher I focused my studies mostly on economics, although I found time to take some great classes in the Southwest Asia concentration. I also cross registered for a couple of classes at Harvard Business School. Although all the classes were great, the paces that Professor Klein, Professor Simonin, and Professor Schaffner put my brain through proved to be most valuable. I still use the skills I learned every week in my current job. I was equally active outside of class. There are many highlights, but the annual Africana Night step show really stands out.
Directly out of Fletcher, I joined the strategy consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners – a terrific place for Fletcher grads to advance their careers in the private sector. I spent four great years there helping Fortune 500 clients improve their strategy, marketing, and pricing initiatives. Eventually I was recruited by Forrester Research (a former client), where I still work today as the Director of Pricing & Packaging. Each day brings something new, and I enjoy working through the puzzles that Fletcher so adroitly equipped me to solve. Also, on the social side of life, the post-Fletcher wedding circuit is the best!
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
I hear a lot of chatter from admitted students that they will be kicking off an apartment hunt during their spring visit to campus. Ariel is here to help you start your search. If you have questions about local housing, please leave a comment below, and Ariel will respond!
Dear Ariel: I just submitted my confirmation that I will be attending Fletcher in the Fall! I would like to live off campus. How did you find an apartment?
Most Fletcher students live off campus in the Medford/Somerville area during their two years at Fletcher. My first step was to find my roommates, which I did through the Fletcher admitted students portal. We were all first-years — two MIBs and two MALDs. Then, because none of us were based in Boston, one of my future roommates took a trip up to Boston from DC to search for apartments. After visiting several apartments she saw listed on Craigslist, she was eventually led to a realty company. (In starting your search for an off-campus apartment, Craigslist will become your best friend.) Through the realty company we located an apartment about a 10-minute walk from Fletcher between the campus and Teele Square. Our four bedroom, one bathroom apartment is $550 per month per person, not including utilities. We signed the lease in mid-June for an August 1st start date and had to pay half of the broker’s fee.
Keep in mind: Living close to Fletcher is a great option for your studies. It cuts down on your commute and can make life easier, especially when group meetings or study sessions run late into the night. Some students do live in Boston proper, but not many. Also, expect rent prices to run anywhere from $550 – $800 per month. One-bedroom apartments are typically significantly more expensive. If you have Fletcher friends who are second years, reach out to them to see if their apartments are available for the fall.
Some other things to keep in mind when looking for an apartment in this area:
- Is there a broker’s fee? Some landlords will waive the fee or split the fee with you. It can save you a lot of money if your landlord agrees, because generally the broker’s fee is equivalent to one month’s rent.
- Is there a security deposit? Generally, you will need to pay the first month’s rent and a security deposit at the time of signing.
- Does your apartment have oil or gas heat? Oil heat is extremely expensive during Boston’s cold winters. If you find an apartment that has gas heat, it might be worth paying a little extra in rent each month, compared to paying a cheaper monthly rent in an apartment with oil heating.
Tagged with: Housing
I suppose that most Fletcher students ultimately miss a class or two — they’re out and about for a job interview, or they attend a special lecture and ask a classmate to take notes for them. I’m pretty sure, though, that I’ve never (in my long Fletcher life) heard of a student returning a week late from spring break, due to his music tour through Russia and Europe. Here’s Mirza’s report, which hit my email inbox on Sunday, midway through the tour. Blog readers in Belgium can catch the final gig Saturday night at the Dunk! Festival.
As I was preparing for my new life as a graduate student at Fletcher last summer, I made a decision to no longer pursue music in any capacity, in order to focus all my attention on school. As music for me was never just a hobby, I couldn’t envision balancing the demanding schedule of running a small business that I am passionate about while concurrently being a full-time student. In addition, my music partner was in the midst of his own MA degree, and together we simply could not dedicate sufficient time to Arms and Sleepers. We talked about it, and decided to call it quits.
Throughout my first semester at Fletcher, however, I realized that despite the busy and hectic graduate school schedule, most students maintain their personal interests and successfully balance their professional aspirations with personal passions. This is why there are so many student clubs, after all, and even a school band, Los Fletcheros. Through my classmates, I learned that it’s a good thing that the library is not open 24/7, that Fletcher shouldn’t take up 100% of one’s time and energy, and that pursuing other interests makes for a healthier and more fulfilling graduate school experience. By the end of the fall semester, I decided that there was nothing really wrong or impossible about calling oneself a musician and a graduate student at the same time. My schedule would certainly prove tricky, but not unmanageable.
One of my first endeavors as I return to music has been a two-week long tour of Europe and Russia.
One week fell during the spring break, and for the second week I will be missing a couple of classes. I decided that this would be a worthwhile pursuit, since it means that I would not need to be employed during the semester, allowing me to focus on my studies. By working intensely for two weeks, instead of a few hours each week, I could set up a schedule for the semester that would suit my personal preferences. Moreover, taking a small break from Medford and doing something completely different for two weeks would provide mental rejuvenation. Though completing assignments while traveling non-stop is exhausting, being in an entirely different mindset for a short while could be quite rewarding. Finally, pursuing several passions is never a bad thing, no matter how divergent they may be. Each has its own benefits and can contribute immensely to personal growth.
I am writing this blog entry at a Starbucks next to Red Square in Moscow, Russia. The tour thus far has been extremely demanding and hectic (two hours of sleep last night, travel early in the morning, write a short paper today, perform tonight), but I am quite happy to be exploring new places, meeting new people, and being in a different environment from my usual day-to-day. I have managed to complete class readings, and will even try to Skype into one of my Fletcher classes. I am also meeting two admitted students in Moscow and Kyiv, Ukraine to chat about Fletcher. So, though a busy schedule, it’s proving to be personally rewarding, fulfilling, and memorable.
The lesson for me — mostly learned from my classmates — has been that managing several different interests while in graduate school is possible and perhaps even worth it. Not only that, but if you can maintain in some capacity your pre-Fletcher work position, it could be a good way to pay for your living expenses while in school. (The burritos and frozen yogurts in Davis Square. The vending machine snacks during marathon library sessions.) Not everyone will have this option, but for those who do, it’s worth considering before setting foot on campus.
(Photos were borrowed from the Arms and Sleepers facebook page.)
Tagged with: Student Stories
I’ve always admired the print edition of The Fletcher Forum, but the online version is simply fantastic. Those hardworking students manage to put together an astounding amount of high-quality (and highly interesting) content. Here’s the latest update that the Forum Online staff sent to the community.
Fletcher Friends, Family, Colleagues, and Prospective Students,
The Fletcher Forum Online — the online portal of The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the school’s student-run international affairs journal — has had an exciting Spring Semester thus far, and we recently concluded a Special Series commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq War. We invite you to visit our website to read some of our great content, and to consider submitting your own article for publication!
Here are some of our recent web highlights:
The Reality of the War in Iraq, Noam Chomsky, Professor (Emeritus), Department of Linguistics & Philosophy, MIT.
An Interview with Dr. Mowaffak Al–Rubaie, Former National Security Advisor of Iraq.
I’m Glad We Invaded Iraq, Janessa Gans Wilder, former CIA analyst; Founder and CEO of The Euphrates Institute.
Iraq: You Can’t Support the Troops without Supporting the Mission, Marine Captain Timothy Kudo, graduate student at New York University who deployed to Iraq in 2009 and to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.
Iraq: The Mistake Was Staying, Harvey Sapolsky, Professor (Emeritus), Political Science, and Director (Emeritus) of the Security Studies Program, MIT.
World Peace through Entrepreneurship… But Only if You Fund It, Steven Koltai, former Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship at the U.S. Department of State; Founder and CEO of Koltai & Co, LLC.
Israel’s Siege Mentality and the Faltering Peace Process, Dr. Jacob Abadi, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic History, United States Air Force Academy.
Embracing Danger: Self-Defense Firearms in the Home, Peter Squires, Professor of Criminology, University of Brighton, England.
Please feel free to comment at the bottom, and share your suggestions with us — we are always looking for ways to improve. To submit your own piece for publication please email us.
The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs Online
Tagged with: Fletcher Forum
I quite unapologetically check the Social List (the mostly-student elist) regularly for information about less-than-official goings on at Fletcher, and the ideas and information that are traded there never cease to amaze me. Here’s an example.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, at 3:28, an international student wrote:
Can you please recommend some very good, calm/peaceful country music for me? I don’t mean old, but something a little melancholic and nostalgic.
At 3:39 the options start to build, when a U.S. student recommended:
Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams are all pretty fantastic. I would just Spotify/Pandora their greatest hits albums, although listening to Johnny Cash’s “Live at Folsom Prison” all the way through is also a great experience.
At 3:53, the next suggestion:
They’re not often counted as “country” musicians, but you may want to check out some of the music at the roots of both the country and blues music genres. Folklorist Alan Lomax also traveled through the South in the 1930s and 1940s recording a lot of these folks in their hometowns for the Library of Congress, and his work provides a pretty fascinating look into a slice of U.S. history.
Finally, 3:58, only a half hour after the original email:
If this is the direction you’re going, then I’d recommend Robert Johnson, Skip James, and Mississippi John Hurt (my personal favorite). Truly beautiful, humble, and haunting music.
And just like that, the student has the information he needs to kick off his search for country music. Thank you, Social List.
Tagged with: Social List
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