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One positive by-product of our cool spring (others call it a long winter) is the flowering trees that in other years would have been at their peak in April, but are still in full bloom this week.  The campus is always lovely for Commencement weekend, but it seems particularly beautiful this year.  No matter where graduates and family find themselves, they will be able to enjoy flowering trees, along with Commencement tents.

The lawn beside the President’s House:

President's Lawn

The courtyard in front of Blakeley Hall (the Fletcher dormitory), where graduating students will gather before starting their Commencement procession:

Blakeley tent

And Fletcher Field (behind the tennis courts), where graduates will receive their diplomas, after listening to speeches by Dean Stavridis and two of their peers, Amy Tan and Bob Lynch:

Fletcher field

I took the photos this morning, before the skies had cleared and the sun came out.  Whether nature brings us sun or clouds, we can count on Commencement being a beautiful day.

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On Monday, Fletcher was its usual busy self — students coming and going to classes and generally still doing what they do.  Even Tuesday, the Hall of Flags looked pretty normal, granted without the ebb and flow of students heading to and returning from classes.  By Wednesday — quiet!  Very few students about, or at least they’re closed in exam rooms and study spaces.

Given that it’s exam week, more surprising than the quiet is the amount that is still happening.  Yesterday and today, Fletcher is hosting the Inclusive Cities Forum and Solutions Symposium.  A cast of scholars and luminaries, including former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, generated lively conversation at yesterday’s sessions.

The Inclusive Cities Forum wasn’t even the only conference this week.  On Tuesday, Fletcher hosted the Ideas Industry Conference, which provoked plenty of conversation, too.

On Wednesday, students kept their exam-week spirits up with the traditional Fletcher Follies.  (Whatever happens at Follies, stays at Follies.  Not much more for me to say.)

And last night, the fourth semesterly Fletcher Recital took place.  A long-standing Thursday night commitment has kept me from attending any of the previous recitals, which I regretted even before I experienced last night’s fantastic event!  So much talent among these students (and a couple of professors, and one daughter of a student)!  Most surprising piece, without a doubt, was Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android,” arranged by Prof. Katrina Burgess and played by her and three students in a string quartet.  (Our own Admissions intern, Ayako, was the cellist.  Go Ayako!)

These are the last events for the 2013-2014 academic year.  For first-year students, only exams stand between them and their summer activities.  Graduating students will soon be looking toward Commencement.  That gives those of us who work in the summer another two weeks with students in the building, before we start our own quiet summer.

 

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.

 

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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Whether on paper or online, reading the newspaper is nothing new to Fletcher, but the MIB program has recently given new meaning to the phrase.  Kristen tells us more.

This academic year, the MIB program has launched a new lecture series called Fletcher Reads the Newspaper.  The series gathers Fletcher faculty and guests to debate, from an interdisciplinary perspective, several sides of a recent business-connected news item. Topics this year ranged from the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh to Edward Snowden’s impact on Google.

The goal of Fletcher Reads the Newspaper is to bring the faculty’s multiple viewpoints together for students in a way that doesn’t always happen in a classroom setting.  Once the professors have established the context for the problem, Dean Chakravorti runs a case-style discussion through which student attendees solve a problem related to the challenge.  These sessions give students the opportunity to be analytical and thoughtful about the headlines we see every day.

You can read more about recent sessions, including full event reports, on our website.

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When I put out my call for students to tell me about the cool stuff they’re doing, I learned about several new or fledgling student organizations.  Today, Katherine tells us about Fletcher Cares.

Taking it to the Streets: Fletcher’s Newest Student Organization Redefines the Call to Serve

Fletcher students are well known for their commitment to making the world a better place, and many enter their first year with impressive international experiences in public service.  Some have served in the Peace Corps or as Fulbright English Teaching Assistants, while others have volunteered or worked for the United Nations, Amnesty International, MercyCorps, Médecins Sans Frontières, or other NGOs in the public service sector.  While service at the international level is certainly nothing new for the Fletcher community, this spring the School welcomed its first official public service student organization, Fletcher Cares.  Created by a motley crew of first-year MALDs, Fletcher Cares aims to connect the Fletcher community to service opportunities in its own backyard, including Somerville, Medford, and the greater Boston area.

Fletcher carees 3Fletcher Cares began last fall as an informal effort by students who sought to galvanize collective action and awareness around the death, displacement, and destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan.  Known then as “Fletcher for the Philippines,” this small group of concerned students collaborated with established campus organizations and partnered with local businesses to fundraise for the World Food Programme, which worked with the Philippine government to launch a massive typhoon relief operation.  In a matter of days, Fletcher Cares successfully obtained donation commitments from two restaurants in Somerville: Diva Indian Bistro and Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant and Music Club.  These donations, in addition to funds raised on campus, helped ensure that families and children in the Philippines received nutritious food during this tragic emergency.

Fletcher Cares has since received official club status and has plans for service opportunities that will engage the larger student body. In addition to its Fall fundraising efforts, Fletcher Cares has participated in various service projects, including a Somerville music festival dedicated to raising funds for the Philippines, and a holiday clothing drive benefiting homeless veterans in the Boston area.   For the remainder of the academic year, Fletcher Cares plans to support runners at the Boston Marathon and to lead literacy, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), and citizenship classes for the Haitian Coalition of Somerville.

Fletcher caresIn hopes of creating a sustainable and long-lasting public service model, Fletcher Cares board members reached out to their counterparts at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Student Public Service Collaborative.  The SPSC leaders graciously offered their insights to the Fletcher Cares team, emphasizing the need to coordinate local, achievable projects that make service a regular part of the graduate student experience.  After a fruitful discussion, the two groups laid the groundwork for future collaboration on service projects in Cambridge and Boston.  Fletcher Cares has also adopted a mission statement: Fletcher Cares provides The Fletcher School with opportunities to connect their academic experiences with volunteerism that promotes a just and sustainable world through service, scholarship, and community partnerships.

As a budding organization, Fletcher Cares has much growing and learning to do.  But the exciting first step has been taken, paving the way for The Fletcher School to be known for the good works its students, faculty, and staff do on the local level, in addition to on the international level.

For more information about Fletcher Cares, please contact us.

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I often refer to the Social List, which is the student elist that serves as virtual glue for the community.  The list was originally established by the School, but it isn’t managed by, well, anyone.  (There are also managed lists for the staff, faculty, and students.)  Many members of the staff subscribe.  In my case, I subscribed initially because I can’t post on it otherwise, but I receive the message digest and it’s often a good source of ideas for the blog.  Never more so than today, when I had the idea to share the subject lines from yesterday’s digest (in bold), along with my notes.  Here are the topics from yesterday’s Social List emails, more or less in the order they appeared, with responses generally removed:

M&E Position for MSI in Bosnia:  When students learn about a job opportunity, they often share the posting with their peers via the Social List.
Seeking syllabi:  Not sure what this request from a soon-to-graduate student is all about, but the Social List is a good place to seek things.
Wed April 2: Future of Energy with S. Julio Friedmann:  The Social List — great way to publicize events.
Leaving a 1 or 2-bedroom in the area?:  Save time searching for housing by asking graduating students!
FREE PIZZA and MOVIE SCREENING on MICROFINANCE: NOW IN C206:  More events, with upper case letters to show that it’s happening NOW!
Rio contact needed:  Students have contacts throughout the world — why not ask for their help?
Summer in D.C!:  So many students are in Washington over the summer that it’s a non-stop Fletcher social scene.
Somerville permit parking:  From parking permits to aspirin for a thesis writer in the library, the Social List is the source of things to borrow.
Contacts at the IDB?:  Students’ contacts aren’t limited to other geographic areas.  As most students enter Fletcher with prior professional experience, they also bring their professional contacts.
Bangladeshi or love Bangladesh?:  Posted by someone who is definitely not Bangladeshi, so I assume he loves Bangladesh.
SEEKING: Urgent Contact info for HR at Inter-American Development Bank:  More job stuff.
AFSWOYD Nonprofit Announcement and Auction Items!!!!!:  Many exclamation points from the student organizers of the Annual Faculty and Staff Waits on You Dinner.
20th International Development Conference at HKS:  An event at Harvard.  Fletcher students welcome.
Digital Cameras in Ginn:  The library has equipment to lend!  Computers (who hasn’t had a computer emergency?), cameras, and other useful things.
Do you like coffee? – Wagoner, Liz:  This one is from my Admissions pal, Liz.  It’s not a random question — she’s setting up visits with current students for newly admitted students.
Fwd: Interested in urban spaces and inclusion? Intern or volunteer for IBGC’s Inclusive Cities conference:  Drumming up support for an upcoming Fletcher conference.
REMINDER: Internship Funding Application! Empower Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship:  Summer money$$!
Cab share from Logan at 11pm:  Cab shares, Zip Cars, rides to Trader Joe’s — all part of the weekly Social List traffic.
Vets 101 this Thursday @ 6pm:  Military veterans offering to share their stories with other Fletcher students.
Student Council 2014:  The Student Council updates the community via the Social List.
Job Opportunities with Fletcher’s Office of Communications for 2014-2015 Academic Year:  Notes like this also go out over more official channels.
FOUND: Urgent Contact info for HR at Inter-American Development Bank:  Possibly the person who asked has been overwhelmed by responses.
Don’t Let Me Down – Come buy your AFSWOYD ticket now:  More on the Annual Faculty/Staff Waits on You Dinner.
Do you have experience living/working in Juba?:  Almost surely someone does.  Maybe several people.
Business Development Job Posting / Cargill Ocean:  More jobs.
Mercy Corps Internship info:  And internships.
SUMMER OPPORTUNITY: Google Policy Fellowship Program:  And more jobs.
Did you defer Fletcher?:  A current student trying to help out a newly admitted student who is thinking of deferring enrollment.

So that gives you a sense of what was happening yesterday.  At other times of year there might be more internship/book selling/political argument/course selection/housing messages.  The one consistent fact is that the Social List keeps the school humming.

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With two references to the Diplomat’s Ball fundraiser in yesterday’s post, maybe you’re wondering what choice items are up for bid.  I took a minute to note a few of the options:

Delicious Indian meal
Personal hair style session
Piano lesson from a professional pianist
Lesson on bagel making
Cantonese comfort food
Rock climbing
Consultation on the process leading to U.S. permanent residency
Boston film tour, drinks, and endless Matt Damon facts
Introductory shooting session
Online dating profile consultation
Customized sonnets
Voice lessons
Dance lessons
“Nail Night” (fancy fingernails)
Two homemade apple pies (yum)
Learn Persian slang
Homemade Pakistani foodDSCN1748But then, with the silent auction phase ending, and the live auction scheduled for last night, the Social List was buzzing yesterday with special promotions by those trying to draw bids on their offers.  For example:

Maybe you’re inspired by the Pakistan cricket team’s recent stellar play and want to tap into another sport that Pakistanis dominate….

…Or maybe you want to learn the basics of what has been called the healthiest sport to play

…or maybe you want to get some face time with the Dean

If any of the above are true, you should bid on my squash lessons tonight at the live auction. While I can’t promise the level of dominance that other Pakistanis have been able to enjoy, I can teach you the basics. I will provide the venue, racquet, and ball.

Or then there’s:

Coffee Tour & Serenade:  I will personally take you on a tour of the area’s premier coffee establishments.  I’ll buy you coffee, tell you made-up facts about each place, and generally show you a good time.  I will also sing to you…maybe in the car, maybe on the sidewalk…it’s a surprise.

Alternatively:

If you come to the live auction tonight, you will have the privilege of bidding on a tour of the area’s premier coffee establishments.  As I have recently returned from a tour of a working coffee plantation in Costa Rica, I am clearly the perfect guide for you.

The emailed descriptions only got crazier from that.  But they all displayed the many talents (and some “talents”) of the student community.

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No Faculty Spotlight feature today.  I’m going to take a couple of weeks to collect more entries and load them into the blog format.  Meanwhile, Kristen and I spent a little while in the Hall of Flags on Monday, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones.  For those who haven’t yet been for a visit, the Hall of Flags is the “town square” of Fletcher — everyone goes through there at some point each day.  We reserved ourselves a table (by which I mean I stuck a note on it, saying that Admissions needed the table at 12:15), and we set up.  Kristen was my Wrangler/Photographer.  I asked the questions and took notes.  Keeping things simple and casual, we just asked everyone what they’ve been up to.  It’s a small sample, but it’s clear that students and professors both have a lot going on.

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Kelsey (MALD): We’re both working on the Diplomat’s Ball fundraiser this week.  It’s an activity auction, where students volunteer their skills, and other students bid on them, and it will help reduce Dip Ball costs.  Some of the skills are cooking meals for other people, going rock climbing, and learning about how to drink whiskey.  And then there are midterms.  And my thesis.

Stephanie (MALD):  I need to remember to get a haircut some time in the future.  And I’m going to try to work with a professor for a conference this semester on state failure in Africa.

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Jake (dual MALD and JD): I went skiing last weekend at Killington.  This week I’m doing my problem sets for various classes and working on a Harvard Law and International Development Society project.  This weekend, I’m probably going to the zoo with my 13-month-old daughter.

(Jake explained that the Harvard Law and International Development Society draws students from around the Boston area, including from Fletcher.  Kristen and I noted that it’s not uncommon for the out-of-class activities that students pursue to involve homework.  A happy nerdiness.)

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Becca (MA): I just found out that we’re moving to Japan for three years.  I’m a little bit overwhelmed right now, finishing up all my academic requirements.  And I have two children.  I’ll receive my orders, pack it all up, and move over there.

(Here, Kristen, who is organizing a move of her own, but only across town, commiserated, and shared some of her own move-induced anxiety.)

Becca:  You can’t control everything.  (Becca is in the Marine Corps.)

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Peter (MALD):  I just got off a call from our client for the consulting class, and we have a contact we’re supposed to reach out to this week.  And we have a deliverable due on Friday.

Terrell (MALD): On Thursday, I organized an LGBT event with BU, BC, Harvard, MIT, and Tufts.  We expected 40, and 130 turned up — it was a happy hour.  Everyone was very excited – it hasn’t been done in a few years, and it’s going to be a great way to build community and make connections.

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Prof. Chakravorti: Last week was an interesting week because in one day, I got a sense of the full span of Fletcher.  In the afternoon I was talking to Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, the Fletcher Statesman-in-Residence and a former Iraqi National Security Advisor, about establishing a chain of KFCs in Baghdad.  The broader topic was examining business as a stabilizing force in post conflict zones.  Then I spoke with Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen from Google on how the new digital age is spreading power to the periphery of society, where everyone has power in their hands in the form of their smartphones, and what this digital rebalancing of power is going to mean.

(Eric Schmidt is the chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas.)

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Laura (MALD):  Here’s what my day looks like.  Wake up at 7 a.m. for a call to Nairobi; help organize a silent auction for the Diplomat’s Ball; study for my class on education and armed conflict; bake a birthday cake for a military fellow; turn in an econometrics problem set; attend a fund raiser for the Fletcher Marathon Team; and read my Strategy and Innovation business cases.DSCN1745Prof. Drezner:  I’m finishing the second edition of my zombie book.  (Prof. Gallagher, who indulged us in a previous Hall of Flags visit, then hurried him along to some event that had them both looking pretty spiffy.)

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Michael (dual MA-MD): The Social List has been boring this year, so I instigated some arguments about the situation in Ukraine, and I think we had some positive outcomes.  I asked, why is it really in our interest to care about this?  People got upset, they wrote back.  As an aspiring doctor, I feel you have to be realistic about the options you have, and if you don’t understand your options, you’re not qualified to handle the job.

Anna (MIB):  It’s very nice to be in a place where you can have many different points of view, especially very extreme views, because it’s through discussion that you better understand complex topics.

And with that, Kristen and I headed back to our respective corners.  I always enjoy my HoF sessions.  Maybe there’s still time for one more later this spring.

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The Tufts Energy Conference is still coming up this weekend, and the spring semester is always loaded with activities that were planned throughout the academic year.  Today (sticking with the environment theme), there’s “Fletcher’s Warming Arctic Conference,” which will start off in the Aidekman Arts Center.  Why the Arts Center?  Because Aidekman is the host of a timely exhibit, Seeing Glacial Time: Climate Change in the Arctic.  I haven’t been over there to check out the exhibit yet, but I plan to visit one afternoon.  (The exhibit was among the Boston Globe‘s picks of the week a little while back.)

Shifting gears to a warmer part of the world, and looking ahead about a month, Fletcher will host “Turkey’s Turn?” on April 10 and 11.   The timing is right for admitted applicants to include the conference during an exploratory trip to Fletcher.  Keep it in the back of your mind, or go ahead and reserve a spot.

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