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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!
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
An annual Fletcher tradition is the “Faculty and Staff Waits on You” dinner, which is pretty much what it sounds like. And an annual tradition of the event is the auction of, well, all sorts of interesting stuff provided by the community. And a tradition of the auction is to provide the funds raised to a worthy organization. This year, the funds went to AYO, an NGO with which a 2012 LLM graduate, Sevan Karian, is working. Sevan contacted me recently with information about AYO and the auction. I asked him to tell me more.
AYO means “YES” in Armenian (and could also mean “Armenian Youth Organization”). This is the new name we’ve just chosen on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of our organization. Today, AYO’s mission is to help the unprivileged kids of Armenia through education programs, using sports and arts as tools for their development.
AYO builds or improves schools, orphanages, and kindergartens in very poor and remote villages of the country, as well as the infrastructure to practice sports and arts around these buildings. In addition, AYO organizes summer camps every year in these villages, thanks to dozens of volunteers coming from France and elsewhere to spend a month with the children to teach them new skills. This video tells AYO’s story:
I became involved in AYO after 2005, when I had lived with indigenous communities in southern Mexico (Chiapas). I realized that I really wanted to be involved with a development aid organization in order to help people, and particularly children, in need. Back in Paris, I met by chance with the former leaders of AYO. They were looking for young people to revitalize this organization, which was falling apart. With a few friends, I devoted my free time over the next five years — when I was a law student and then a lawyer — to restructuring the organization, restoring contact with local populations in Armenia, as well as finding and organizing new projects in poor villages, which have taken place every summer since 2007!
Originally a lawyer in the energy and business sector in Paris, I came to Fletcher in 2011 for the the LLM program and I took the amazing John Hammock’s class on NGO Management and Ethics. This helped me a lot to frame my goals for AYO toward professionalization of the organization, and its expansion. I am now working almost full-time with AYO, trying to find more funds and more projects. Better organized and more efficient, AYO currently has an office in Paris with two interns, two workers in Armenia, and now a branch of the NGO opening in Boston!
I hope we will continue in this way and that AYO will be able to run several construction projects and summer camps in 2013 in Armenia, with the participation of French and also U.S. volunteers!
Tagged with: LLM
Although I often pick up a piece of Fletcher news (or, more often, newsy tidbit), it’s not realistic for the Admissions Blog to cover everything going on here. Thankfully, blog readers do not need to remain ignorant of interesting events — there are plenty of other sources for you. Here’s a partial list.
Fletcher’s News & Media page, produced by the School’s communications office.
The Tufts Daily — all the University’s news in a student-produced paper and web format.
If you’re a prospective student and you want to know more about the communities that surround the University, most local newspapers have detailed websites. Though each of these locales actually has more than one news source, here are a few links to start your research on Fletcher’s closest neighbors: Boston, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge.
Keeping up with all those sites and sources should give you a sense of what’s happening on campus and in our neighborhood.
Hanneke, a current Fletcher-Friedman dual degree student, recently told us the story of how she learned she had been admitted to Fletcher. Ten seconds later, we had handed her this writing assignment and a deadline. Here’s her great story.
When I applied to graduate school two years ago, I was teaching elementary school on a small Pacific atoll named Utrok in the Marshall Islands. I had spent September through December working on my essays by hand. (A hammock between two palm trees happens to be just about the most beautiful place you could hope to be, while writing essays about the trajectory of your life.) I had to feverishly prepare my online applications during a winter break trip to the capital, Majuro, 300 miles away, and I submitted them (which felt more like launching them into outer space) three days before returning to Utrok.
Because there was no phone or internet on Utrok, all of my admissions decisions would be going directly to my field director in Majuro. For her to communicate those decisions to me, we would have to talk over the radio (the kind truck drivers use), which was the only form of instant communication between Majuro, Utrok, and other outer islands. The thing is… conversations held over the radio could be heard by anyone tuning in to the same frequency anywhere in the country. While I didn’t want the rest of the Marshall Islands hearing my admissions decisions at the same time as I did, I really (really) did not want my colleagues to hear them.
I had a general idea when decisions should be released, so my field director and I devised a plan. We had a weekly group check-in every Wednesday, and if decisions were in, my field director was to discretely communicate a sign that I should get on the radio the following day. I must have changed that plan at least three times from January to March and eventually ditched it altogether in a fit of nerves the day I thought decisions would be available. I rushed home from school and announced (via that same radio) that I was ready to hear whatever news she had. Knowing that Fletcher and Friedman were my top choices, she gave me those two decisions first. In and in. Totally elated! And totally incapable of telling my family back in the U.S. My field director had to do that, too. (She was an immensely accommodating human being.)
The plane was working the following week and my acceptance packet made the trip relatively quickly to keep me company for the following two and a half months. I read it cover to cover, over and over again. I had only spent about three days in Boston when I was 17, so I had absolutely no orientation to the area. My host parents and I pored over the campus map: illustrations of campus landmarks, Powderhouse Circle, and the buildings of downtown Boston in the distance. The three of us sat there pointing — clueless, but excited.
I look back at that application process as somewhat surreal, largely hilarious, and ultimately incredibly special. It was only when I arrived at Fletcher and began to meet all of the remarkable people around me (who have done and continue to do the most impressive things) that I realized how oddly fitting all of it had been.
Tagged with: decisions
Not infrequently, we read application essays that describe an interest in studying languages while at Fletcher. Depending on how much detail the applicant provides, we may sense that there’s a mismatch between what Fletcher offers and what the applicant is looking for. Fletcher is not foremost a graduate school for cultural or language study, though many students certainly have a regional focus for their coursework or their career objectives. Our assumption is that you’re going to arrive at Fletcher with proficiency in the language(s) you need for your studies and career. At the very least, we expect you to have skills strong enough to pass the language exam, which is a requirement for graduation. (If you’re close, but not quite proficient enough, we may make your admission conditional upon completion of an intensive language program.)
But that doesn’t mean that Fletcher students have no opportunity for language study. Students may petition to take up to two language courses as part of their curriculum, and there are good reasons why someone would want to do so. Let’s say that your focus is East Asia and you speak Mandarin. You might want to acquire Japanese skills for your future career. Using two of your credits for language courses, in that case, makes perfect sense.
If you want to develop your language skills, but don’t want to use course credits to do so, you may decide to audit a class. The building that houses the University’s two language departments (the Department of Romance Languages and the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages) is conveniently located right next to Fletcher, making it easy to dash over for classes. The meaning of “audit” is between you and the instructor, and you may want to commit yourself to completing more or fewer of the class assignments.
Less formally, if what you’re looking for is a chance to keep up your skills, you may find fellow students who will want to join you. Every year, students establish Chinese/French/Swahili/Russian/other study groups, where they might gather for coffee and a little exercise of the part of the brain that controls languages.
Tagged with: Language requirement
There are no Fletcher classes today or tomorrow while students are visiting Washington, DC for the annual career trip. A couple of weeks ago, the director of the Office of Career Services, Phillip McMullen, sent us a preview of the many different activities students could choose from. Here’s how he described the trip for his colleagues.
Hi All –
My great team has pulled together another winning DC Career Trip, which is two weeks away. We closed registration last night and I thought I would share a few statistics.
- A total of 67 events over the two days:
- 9 Panels
- 3 Affinity Group Events
- 24 Site Visits
- 30 Alumni Lunches
- 1 Alumni-Student Reception (250 students/250 alumni)
- 1, 440 — total seating capacity across all events, excluding the reception
- 320 participating students
- 160+ alumni speakers/hosts, excluding the reception
- Some new additions this year:
- National Security/White House Tour/Briefing
- DM&E Roundtable
Staff members who will be in DC are welcome to join us at the reception. A cozy gathering of 500 enthusiastic Fletcherites.
Tagged with: Career
Last week, Kristen and I went out to the Hall of Flags for an hour to chat with students and capture some of their thoughts for the blog. I was the typist, and Kristen was the wingwoman/interviewer/photographer. We asked as many people as we could to tell us something that they learned at Fletcher, either inside or outside the classroom. Our first visitor was Matt, a PhD candidate, who kicked off our conversations with a way-outside-the-classroom response.
Matt: I’ve learned that it actually is possible to learn a whole Bollywood dance in only a week. In order to get a date.
The remaining responses trended somewhat more academic.
Felix: One of the biggest things I’ve learned here is how to squeeze the world into two pages. Presenting international terrorism to your foreign minister — 90 seconds. NATO-Russia relations — two pages. Dealing with complex information in a pragmatic way, a solution-oriented way.
We chatted together with an MIB duo of David and Qasim.
David: So much of what I’m learning is from my fellow students, especially in settings where we do teamwork, which is very conducive to new learning. It’s intense and the learning curve is very steep, but I’ve learned a tremendous amount.
Qasim: I’ve learned about the experiences of many different people I’ve met – how to make their food, and the different ways they live. And the second thing I’ve learned is how to manage my time and prioritize.
Next we chatted with a sales team for the Africana Club, promoting the “Sounds of the Continent” Africana Night event.
Jenn: Prof. Glennon posed this great question in his class, asking if international law is really law, and it helped me to use his model when thinking about it. The example is that you’re driving through the woods and you want to throw your trash out the window. But do you throw your trash out the window? If not, why? You won’t get caught. What is it that makes you feel it’s wrong? What is it that makes you feel a responsibility to not do these things? Is there a rule about it? Or is it that you want there to be a rule about it? Is it a bad thing that there’s not a rule? Is it something that we still obey if it’s not written down?
Blaen: I came to Fletcher to get exposed to a different field, to law, so I’ve learned how lawyers think, and also about policy making. It’s all about the consequences — it’s not about the profits or values, it’s all about the consequences.
We went back to our table to catch some more people as they crossed the Hall of Flags.
Trisha: I’ve learned the importance of interdisciplinary connections and how you can see different sides of the same coin when you take different classes at Fletcher. And…free pizza is your best friend. Hang around the Hall of Flags for free food.
Patrick: I’ve learned not only from the professors but also from my fellow students and from visiting guests who come to give talks. I find that these talks help you to think about things in a broader context.
I agreed to be in the photo with Patrick, because I’ve known him longer than any other Fletcher student! (Also because Kristen insisted.)
Maddie: I’ve learned that I am now interested in things that I never imagined I would be interested in, even within the broader field that I was pursuing. Before coming to Fletcher, I was intending to study strategic management and international consultancy, but after taking Prof. Jacque’s international finance course, I developed a new interest in finance and decided to switch my focus. Overall, Fletcher opened my eyes to things I never knew I was interested in.
Hannah: I do feel that Fletcher has given me the opportunity to make a lot of different connections that I wouldn’t have if I had stayed in the career track that I was in before. Like doing the MasterCard project and seeing the inside of a big corporation and the role it can plan in international development. A company like that sees financial inclusion as a business opportunity.
This also opened up a lot of career ideas for me. I’m thinking about my job search in a more organic way, thinking about what I want to do, rather than sending off a whole bunch of job applications with less thought.
Kristen interviewed Hannah for admission “way back when,” in DC. And Hannah said Kristen was a big part of the reason why she ended up here.
Margot: I came from the development world, so I had that focus when I started at Fletcher. I’m trying to reorient on the link between security and development in Africa, and something that I’ve learned from my classes such as Role of Force, or interacting with the Fletcher military fellows (and learning how thoughtful they are), and Fletcher events is the theoretical and practical security paradigms. I already transitioned from a human rights focus in college to a development focus through my work. But now I’m adding security to that mix. I feel I had been a little closed off where I was, but now I have the ability to open up to different domains.
And we’ll give the final word to Prof. Gallagher, a MALD graduate herself. She was rushing past us, on her way to meet a candidate for an open faculty position, but Kristen made good use of the minute while Prof. Gallagher waited for the elevator. What has she learned at Fletcher?
It might be a little glib, but what haven’t I learned!
Tagged with: Hall of Flags
Continuing a long history of producing interesting and timely publications, the Fletcher Forum has a new issue. Here’s how editor Alexander Ely described the new edition to the community.
The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is pleased to announce the online launch of our brand new issue, Vol. 37:1. Highlighting our latest issue is a special section focusing on U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges during the Second Obama Administration, including discussions with Former Secretary of State James Baker and Former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Also included are articles from Fletcher Professor William Moomaw, Fletcher graduates Suzanne Maloney and Michael Hammer, Michele Dunne, Mary Harper, David Koplow, Fletcher PhD student Prashanth Parameswaran, and many others. To view the complete list of articles and abstracts, along with PDF versions of the articles, please visit our website, or go directly to the individual PDFs.
Additionally, The Forum is available for sale. Please contact Business Director Alexander Kaz if you are interested in purchasing any issues. The Forum is run by a staff of forty graduate students here at The Fletcher School, and your support helps us to put out the best product possible each semester.
We encourage you to visit our website frequently, where our online edition regularly publishes original content by Fletcher students, professors, outside scholars and practitioners. We welcome submissions to both the print and online editions. More information on submission guidelines can be found here.
On behalf of the staff of The Fletcher Forum, who worked tirelessly to produce this issue, we thank you for reading and look forward to your comments, feedback and submissions.
Here we are — January 8. Already a full week into 2013! And though the blog has been busy for the past two-plus weeks, I have been out of the office for that time, mostly on a lovely family trip to London, with a short add-on chocolate/waffle-fest in Brussels. Yesterday, I hosted the Admissions staff in my living room/conference center for our office retreat, but today I finally return to a more typical work day.
Though our focus is on the applications that are currently keeping the printer humming, I thought I’d kick off the new semester by closing out the last one. During exams (i.e. at an unreasonably inconvenient time), I asked students to answer two questions for me. Though I only received about a dozen responses, I still want to share them with you. Even a small sample of Fletcher students can demonstrate the breadth of interests in the community.
My first question: Did you have a favorite class this semester? If so, what was it, and what made it a favorite? The answers:
- “Politics of Violent Conflict in Africa” was a fantastic class. It was taught by Alex de Waal, one of the world’s foremost experts on East Africa, and the blend between theory and case studies was very powerful. I could feel my mind being stretched while sitting in it.
- Professor Klein’s “International Economic Policy Analysis.” Who knew writing policy memos based on econometric analysis could be so much fun?
- Prof. Basanez’s ”Cultural, Human Values and Development,” was thought provoking and enlightening. The elements of culture and human values are often forgotten by policymakers in the process of drafting developmental policies. Even when implementing the same policy in two different countries, the differences in culture will lead to different outcomes.
- “Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance.” It was a great learning experience to study corporate finance at a school like Fletcher, where people bring in different perspectives to the classroom and study groups, leading to rich discussion on financial transactions compared to a typical finance class at an MBA program.
- Prof. Martel’s “Foundations of Policy Analysis.” This class was high energy, covered an important area for future policy makers, and taught me how to write a memo.
- Prof. Gideon’s, “International Communication” class. I loved the dynamics between the students, and how comfortable everyone was to throw out witty, sometimes provocative remarks. Prof. Gideon clearly tries to make the class experience enjoyable without being fluffy.
- “International Negotiations.” We took part in several simulation exercises that were not only fun, but also intellectually challenging and great learning experiences. During a day-long simulation, we negotiated the terms of a civil war peace agreement, and my group came up with a Peace Accord that incorporated the interests and positions of both sides. It was a great way to put in practice what we had learned and to understand from a real-world perspective how I will use these critical skills in my future career.
- “Peace Operations” with Prof. Johnstone. I love him! and his classes….he is enthusiastic and a great professor.
- It was a tie between “Role of Force” and “Maritime History and Globalization.” Both classes were great because of the professors (Shultz and Perry). They have different styles, but are equally engaging and passionate.
- I loved Professor Martel’s “Foundations of Policy Analysis.” He made the class so engaging and interactive, using real life examples and experiences. Every day I learned something I could directly apply to my career.
If you’d like to read descriptions of each of the courses, you can find them (as well as all the other classes not captured by my limited survey) listed on the pages for each division: Diplomacy, History and Politics; Economics and International Business; and International Law and Organizations. My second question to the students was: Did you learn something special this semester? Something surprising, or that will be particularly valuable in your future career? Their answers:
- The framing of a problem is critical to how you think about it and how you solve it!
- To ensure sustainability, it is important to seek a balance between the cultures of joy and performance. Although the World Values Survey is very subjective, its contribution to social sciences is far greater than I would have expected.
- I learned invaluable quantitative skills in my “Statistical Methods” class with Prof. Nakosteen. I was anxious about taking the class, since I had no prior academic experience in statistics, but Prof. Nakosteen was a phenomenal teacher, and he made the subject matter engaging and fun. I’ve gained a whole new set of useful tools that will be of great use in my future career, and I know how to apply them in the real world.
- I learned to always have an opinion in class and that I need to be able to defend my opinion.
- I will definitely go back to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations time and again. Our discussion of it in Prof. Henrikson’s course made me realize just how important it is.
- I learned that International Law is precarious at best. I had always assumed that some sort of enforcement bound the law of nations, but found that goodwill is the glue that holds the International Court of Justice together.
- I feel even more grateful about being at Fletcher this semester — the fact that I am surrounded by these incredibly smart and talented classmates makes my life here really special. (Sorry if I’m not answering the question…)
Tagged with: Classes
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