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As we close out March, the month that includes International Women’s Day, let me point you toward a feature on Fletcher’s Facebook page.  Clicking on the photo below will take you to the site, and then you can click each individual photo to read the women’s stories.

 

Just yesterday, I posted a link to a profile of Rizwan, a PhD candidate.  And then today, he sent along this fun photo with the explanation below.  This strikes me as a great example of an area (nuclear policy) where there’s no specific Field of Study, but nonetheless, there’s a cluster of expertise that enables students to pursue their objectives — true for so many different focus areas.  (Plus there’s that special Fletcher family aspect, too.)

Rizwan’s note to me and a few others:

Please find attached a photo of nuclear policy-focused Fletcher students and alumni from across the last 30 years!  We are currently gathered in DC for the biannual Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. From left to right:

Emma Belcher (F04, PhD F10), Director for International Peace and Security at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Chen Kane (PhD F04), Director of the Middle East Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Steve Miller (PhD F88), Director of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Mathew Cravens (F18)
Clark Frye (F17)
Rizwan Ladha (F12, PhD F17), Research Fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Wendin Smith (PhD F01), former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, U.S. Department of Defense
Lami Kim (F13, PhD F18), Research Fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Travis Wheeler (F15), Research Associate in the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center
Amanda Moodie (F11), Assistant Research Fellow in the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University

Not pictured, but also attending the conference: Janne Nolan (PhD F83), Research Professor and Chair of the Nuclear Security Working Group at the Elliott School, George Washington University

 

Is it true that Admissions folks try to make matches among our applicants when we decide to admit them?  No, of course not!  But I can say that there are folks on this list whom I knew before they knew each other, so I’m more than willing to claim a role in their happiness.  Continuing with our Valentine’s week celebration of Fletcher couples, please meet another twelve alumni.

Bria, F12, and Ivan, F12
We met on the first day of Fletcher orientation in 2010.  We soon became good friends and often met for lunch in Mugar Café.  During our second year, we stopped being shy and went on our first dates.  Our favorite memory of that time was dancing away during Africana Night, the last cultural night of our Fletcher experience.  We got married in 2015 and have since been living in South Asia, where we both work for the U.S. Foreign Service.  Thanks for bringing us together, Fletcher!

Ivan and Bria


Laura, F92, and Mark, F90 (MALD) and F93 (PhD)

Laura was working at Fletcher on a China education program.  Mark had finished his PhD orals and needed a job.  Mark was hired.  Flirting ensued.  Engagement six months later.  Wedding at Tufts Goddard Chapel in the company of many Fletcher friends.  Twenty-five years later, international adventures continue to unfold, including stints living in Hong Kong and Mexico.  Mark and Laura now live in Denver, and have two boys, Nathan (21) and Theo (18).

Mark and Laura


Hammad, F11, and Manny, F12

Hammad and Manny met at the entrance of Blakeley Hall on Admitted Students Day in April 2010.  What began as a simple friendship, after Manny enrolled at Fletcher, turned into a long-distance relationship — as those pursuing international careers might know all too well.  In spring of 2011, Manny had one year left to complete his MALD program and Hammad was set to join the U.S. Foreign Service upon graduation.  With some luck, Hammad’s first post was Washington, DC, paving the way for his frequent return visits to Fletcher.  The relationship blossomed into a six-year courtship across five cities: Medford, Washington, Caracas, Tunis, and Mexico City.  The couple fondly recall their memories from Medford: joint study sessions on the third floor of Ginn Library, staying up late to work on the demanding but rewarding DME course with Professor Church, and the active social calendars of the Green House (where Hammad lived his second year) and Blakeley Hall (where Manny lived his first year).  They now both work for the U.S. State Department, and look forward to more globetrotting adventures together.

Hammad and Manny


Filipa, F11, and Chris, F12

We met on October 9, 2010 during Chris’s first semester and Filipa’s last semester at Fletcher.  We know the exact date because we were on our way to a comedy show in downtown Boston (“Arabs Gone Wild”) when we were introduced at a fellow Fletcherite’s house.  After the show, we decided to have dinner in Chinatown and meet friends at a house-party in Porter Square.  Chris walked Filipa home at the end of the night, and what followed were study sessions in the library and computer lab until we went on our first date, to watch a movie at the Somerville Theater.  Filipa moved to New York in the spring, so we quickly got to know the MANY bus routes between New York and Boston.  After Chris’s graduation in 2012 and subsequent move to Washington, DC, we continued to take advantage of the east coast buses to visit each other.  Chris asked Filipa to marry him in June 2014 on the eve of traveling with Fletcher friends to the World Cup in Brazil.  We were married the following year in Evora, Portugal in front of our families, friends, and, of course, our beloved Fletcher family.  We have lived in Washington DC since 2013, where we continue to enjoy sports, comedy, movies, and the occasional inter-city bus ride.

Filipa and Chris - Olive tree

 

Andrew, F12, and Arielle, F12
We were both very fortunate as students to have the opportunity to participate in the Asia Foundation Study Tour in China.  During that trip we bonded over our mutual love of gorging on delicious food and exploring new places, both of which we continue to do today!  We are currently living in Seoul, South Korea working at the U.S. Embassy.  Should any fellow Fletcher grads make it out this way, we would love to grab a bite to eat with you!

Andrew and Arielle

 

Nathan, F13, and Ana, F13
We had common friends at Fletcher, but despite this, during our two years at Fletcher, we never got to know each other well.  Nathan, a music-frisbee-development passionate guy.  Ana, a zumba-library-Middle East club girl.  It was only after graduation that our paths crossed in a strange but amazing way.  Nathan found himself house searching and, at the insistence of one of Ana’s roommates — and Nathan’s amazing cookies — Nathan moved into the empty room of an apartment with Ana and her friends.  Who would have predicted this was going to change our lives!  During our early morning coffees, Ana got ready for work and Nathan would share his job-hunting stories, his latest guitar song, or just the quiet of the early morning summer in Boston.  While he was looking for jobs away from Boston, Ana was also making plans — to move away from the U.S.  In the meantime, we became good friends and Nathan stayed by Ana’s side during a surgery that summer.  While she was recovering, he got a job in Washington, DC and he moved in late in August.  And it was then when we both realized how much we meant to each other, and how much we wanted to be in each other’s lives.  We skyped, talked, emailed, and saw each other as much as we could, mostly living in different places, adding up to more than 20 different cities around the world.  Ana moved to southern Turkey, where we currently both live, in 2014, and Nathan joined in 2015. We got married in August 2016 in Boston, a city that will always have a special place in our lives.

Ana and Nathan

And Nathan and Ana’s photo at the School is a fitting conclusion to our Fletcher Couples feature.  I’m already looking forward to Valentine’s Day 2018 to reach out to more married alumni and hear their stories.  Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the photo album on Fletcher Facebook page for more Fletcher couples.

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I love learning about Fletcher couples!  And this year, in time for today’s Valentine’s Day holiday, I’ve been working on a joyful project — seeking out couples among our alumni.  I reached out to a few people whom I expected would be good sources, and soon my email was sprinkled with happy photos and the couples’ stories, which I’ve shared below in their own words.

Sigh…so great.

I’ve written now and then about Fletcher couples, but they’ve usually been folks I knew.  For this first Valentine’s Special, featured on the blog and the Fletcher Facebook page, recent graduates are a little over-represented.  Now that I know how fun it is to gather these stories, I will commit myself to bringing more graduation-year diversity to the feature.  But now, let’s meet some of the couples! 

Gerardo, F11, and Ana, F12 and current PhD candidate
Our families have been friends for decades.  We’ve known each other since we were little.  We planned our wedding as we were applying to schools in the U.S. and we went to several Open Houses.  We both fell in love with Fletcher, and that is where we ended up having an extended honeymoon!

Ana and Gerardo

 

Jessica, F16, and Abishek, F14
We met during the 2013-2014 academic year while living in Blakeley Hall.  We recently celebrated our wedding in Allahabad, India on January 22, 2017.

Jessica and Abishek's wedding, with Fletcher friends.

Jessica and Abishek’s wedding, with Fletcher friends.

 

Chris, F93, and Hilary, F94
We met first in a Tufts Japanese class that we were both taking after returning from Japan on the JET Program, but the romance really happened at the first Blakeley Hall party that same night!  Fletcher was a great place to find someone who had the same perspective on life: an understanding of global cultures and a love of adventure!  Now, it’s more than 20 years later, and that is what still keeps us together, after years of living and working in Germany, New York, and Japan.  Thank you Fletcher!

Chris and Hilary

 

Gregor, F12, and Jenny, F12
Gregor and Jenny met during their Fletcher Orientation in 2010.  They became good friends, and eventually started dating after working in the same econometrics study group in their second semester.  As many of the Fletcher family do, they share a passion for exploring the world, and for good quantitative analysis!  They both work in the international development field with a focus on monitoring & evaluation.  Jenny and Gregor got engaged in Ireland in 2014.  Gregor nervously carried a ring through a four-day hike while looking for an opportune place to propose.  They were married in September 2015 in Annapolis, MD and currently live in Washington, DC with their dog, Lady.

Gregor and Jenny

 

Maddie, F14, and John, F14
Maddie and John met on the first day of MIB pre-orientation at Fletcher.  Maddie sat in the seat directly in front of John in Dean Chakravorti’s Stategic Management course in Mugar 200.  So naturally, Maddie talked to nearly every person in the class except for John.  John tried to get Maddie’s attention for weeks, but to no avail.

Maddie had signed up for a half-marathon in Salem in the middle of September and, upon a fellow classmate’s suggestion, it just so happened that John signed up, too, despite zero training.  Maddie and John ran the entire 13.1 miles together, talking and getting to know each other.  Not long after that, they began dating!

After graduation, they moved to Minneapolis, MN (Maddie’s hometown). John proposed to Maddie a year later, in May 2015, on the historic Stone Arch Bridge, in the pouring rain.  Their wedding was at the Solar Arts Building in Minneapolis and they were fortunate to have many Fletcher friends alongside them in their celebrations.

John and Maddie

 

Leigh, F06 (MALD) and F11 (PhD) and Geoffrey, F07 (MALD) and F11 (PhD)
Professor Andrew Hess and Bernadette Kelley-Lecesse (former Fletcher staff member) played an important role in bringing us together.  There were also some significant upsides to late nights in the Ginn Library.

Geoffrey, Leigh, Audrey (age 6) and Joan (age 2)

Geoffrey, Leigh, Audrey (age 6) and Joan (age 2)

We’ll meet more couples in tomorrow’s post!

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Kicking off the updates from the Class of 2011 is Chris Berger, who had a clear focus for his Fletcher studies before he even arrived and who took full advantage of the School’s quantitative offerings.

Before Fletcher

Chris BergerI graduated from Princeton in 2006 with a degree in history and I really struggled with what I wanted to do next.  I was passionate about foreign affairs and international politics, and deeply involved in the national security discourse in the wake of 9/11.  I was also, however, fascinated by the booming financial services industry, despite having taken little interest in economics/finance during college.

Determined to explore this path, I took a job at a financial consulting firm in New York that was focused on the bond markets.  Shortly thereafter, 2008 reared its ugly head and the financial world went into a tailspin.  A series of unanswered questions began to drive my focus: What was the genesis of the financial crisis and how had it metastasized so pervasively across the globe?  Were emerging market economies and the so called “BRICs” (Brazil, Russia, India, China) poised to lead to the next wave of global growth?  How would economies rebuild and how would government respond to strengthen the core of the global financial system?  Fletcher sounded like the perfect place to explore these questions and to further build my understanding of international economics.

At Fletcher

I was drawn to Fletcher’s MALD program by the flexibility of the curriculum and by the breadth of course offerings that directly appealed to my interests.  I took full advantage of this flexibility by structuring a course load centered around economics, finance, and the global political economy.  My work with Professors Klein, Krohn, and Drezner helped me to build a solid foundation in economics while also refining my understanding of the interaction between finance and public policy.  Working with Professor Krohn, I wrote my thesis on how emerging markets were, after the financial crisis, poised to decouple from the West and lead the path for GDP growth over the coming years.  (FYI — I was wrong.)  As I looked to life after Fletcher, I was determined to find a career that straddled the worlds of public policy and finance.

After Fletcher

After graduation, I was very lucky to be offered a role at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as part of their Markets Group.  The Markets Group is responsible for executing monetary policy on behalf of the Federal Reserve System and I was fortunate to join right before the start of the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing (QE3, the program implemented in the aftermath of the financial crisis to provide the market with liquidity in effort to stimulate growth).  As part of my training program I was taught how to effectively analyze and interpret movements across global financial markets and opine on broader themes across global asset classes.  My training afforded me the opportunity to lead daily meetings with the Fed Governors and the Treasury Department and allowed me to participate in briefings with the leadership of the Federal Reserve, including Chair Janet Yellen.

After three years with the Markets Group, I left the Fed to assume a private sector position within BlackRock, where I currently work.  The group I joined, called the Financial Markets Advisory group (FMA), was formed in the aftermath of the financial crisis and provides consulting services for governments, central banks and global financial institutions.  Described by The New York Times as the “go-to SWAT team in financial crises,” I have worked on a number of assignments in the U.S. and abroad, including most recently a longer term project in Frankfurt.  During my two years in the group I have been granted exposure to a broad range of issues facing the global financial system in the aftermath of the crisis, allowing me to build on my Fletcher curriculum while keeping me deeply entrenched with some of the key issues that drive my intellectual curiosity.

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During the fall, I reached out to members of the Class of 2011 and asked them to report on what they were doing during their first five post-Fletcher years.  I’ve now gathered these new Five-Year Updates, and I’ll start sharing them next week.

One could point out that by the time I publish the posts, five years has nearly melted into six, but let’s not quibble.  The updates give you a good sense of how the former students put their degrees to work in the early years after they graduated.

My assignment to the alumni is to provide readers a sense of their work before Fletcher, their academic path through Fletcher, and then their professional (and sometimes personal) lives after Fletcher.  Beyond that, the content is up to them.

Connecting with these members of the Fletcher family is a treat for me, whether or not I knew them well from their Hall of Flags days.  I always look forward to hearing how Fletcher has influenced them, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading their stories, too.

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It has been a while since I last wrote about my friend and Fletcher grad, Charles Scott, F94.  After a relatively typical post-Fletcher career, Charlie relaunched himself in recent years as the “Family Adventure Guy” and a speaker for corporate and other settings.

Most noteworthy among Charlie’s recent activities have been as a member of “Team See Possibilities,” three super-fit runners who accompany a fourth — who happens to have lost his sight as an adult — on daunting adventures.  In November, the Team tackled Mount Kilimanjaro.  At night.  Their “Kili in the Dark” run took them up the mountain at high speed, and their days in Tanzania and Kenya included visits to schools and other activities to support children who are blind.

This wasn’t their first inspiring trip, though.  About a year ago, the team climbed Machu Picchu, and before that they ran the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim.

International adventure wasn’t new to Charlie, whose pursuit of demanding travel started with a trip by bicycle around Japan with his son.  Then a trip around Iceland with his son and daughter.  These and other rides have linked him to a community of bicyclists and even a bike travel film festival, which has featured films that Charlie made of his travels.  Take a look at a clip of a recent video called “Perceived Limits.”

Adventurers are a new, or newly prominent, subset of the Fletcher student and alumni community.  Fletcher is a place where just about everyone has experienced wanderlust, even if not all of our travel is the super rugged variety.  I’ll need to catch up with Charlie soon to find out what’s next in the plans for Team See Possibilities.

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Today I’m happy to report on the latest accomplishment of 2006 MALD graduate Cristiana Paşca Palmer.  I can do so thanks to the outreach of her 2006 classmate Cornelia (Connie) Schneider.

Pasca PalmerFirst, the news.  Cristiana was recently appointed Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Cristiana has a long record of accomplishment in the environment arena, and has been actively engaged in international climate talks.  After receiving her MALD, Cristiana stayed on at Fletcher for her PhD studies (receiving the degree in 2014), during which she had a fellowship with the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

This is the second time I’ve highlighted Cristiana’s accomplishments, both times because Connie, who is very accomplished herself(!), contacted me.  This is such a sweet tradition and finding Connie’s email message in my inbox this morning was a highlight of my day.  I love how alumni cheer for each other, both because such mutual support is wonderful, and also because it reminds me what a special community I am part of.

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If you’ve had your eye on the news about travel technology startups in the Boston area, you’ve already heard of Emily Bernard, a 2013 MALD graduate, who is the co-founder and chief brand officer of PlacePass.com, a travel technology startup based in Cambridge.  Emily describes PlacePass as a “metasearch engine that enables travelers to instantly compare hundreds of tour and activity websites simultaneously,” and says that, with PlacePass, “travelers can find high-quality local experiences in more than 180 destinations, and save money and time by booking online.”  You can read more about PlacePass and the local travel startup scene in the Boston Globe and on BostInno (an online resource for the local tech and startup community).  Today, Emily tells us how Fletcher prepared her for her current work.

Five Ways Fletcher Prepared Me to Be a Travel Entrepreneur

09/30/2016 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - Head-shots of students, faculty, staff, and employers, for the purpose of LinkedIn photo. (Zara Tzanev for Tufts University)

Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask me about my path to PlacePass.  “What inspired you to establish a travel technology startup?”  “How did you decide this was the right opportunity?”  “What gave you the confidence to lead a startup organization?”  These are excellent, welcome questions — and not always easy to answer.

The truth is, like that of many entrepreneurs, my journey to PlacePass has been a winding one.  I’m still discovering how the narrative fits together.  I’m delighted and surprised by the ways my past experiences have aligned to bring me here.  But one thing is for certain: Fletcher is a key part of the story.

There are countless ways in which Fletcher prepared me for PlacePass.  I’ve gathered a few of them here, and am hopeful they will be useful for prospective Fletcher students interested in the wild, wonderful experience of entrepreneurship.

  1. Global Perspective

A global perspective is the hallmark of a Fletcher education.  From the diversity of the student body to the course offerings to international internships, Fletcher is constantly looking outwards.  This perspective has been essential in my role at PlacePass.  Though based in Cambridge, we are a global company, already serving more than 180 destinations.  Our strategic vision must take into account global trends, global tastes, and global risks.  We must consider how our brand and product offerings will be perceived in various markets and in diverse cultural settings.  I feel well-equipped to tackle these tough decisions because of my Fletcher education.

  1. Commitment to Sustainable, Inclusive Business Practices

From the start, my co-founder Ethan and I have been committed to sustainable, inclusive business practices.  We believe the travel industry has a key role to play in building more prosperous communities around the world.  My Fletcher education has given me the inspiration and tools I need to develop a comprehensive CSR strategy that contributes to the community in a meaningful way and sets us up for long-term success.  I’m very proud to share that, for every tour booked on PlacePass, we donate $1 to EGBOK, a non-profit in Cambodia that provides vocational training in hospitality for at-risk youth.  It’s a wonderful partnership and we look forward to expanding this initiative to other countries as PlacePass continues to grow.

  1. Industry Expertise

Fletcher’s highly flexible curriculum gives students the space to explore the industries, topics, and issues of interest to them.  For me, that was travel and hospitality, and during my Fletcher tenure I found many ways to strengthen my expertise in this area.  For example, I spent my summer internship at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, where I explored the economic and environmental impacts of World Heritage site designation.  In my thesis, advised by Professor Carolyn Gideon, I evaluated how Brand USA (the U.S. tourism promotion agency) markets our country to international visitors.  For a course on risk management, I studied how Arctic tour companies de-risk their voyages and work to ensure the safety of their passengers while preserving the perception of a high-adrenaline adventure.  In a course on leadership, I studied how managers of the Marriott Islamabad responded to a terrorist attack on the hotel.  And finally, in an entrepreneurship marketing class, I developed a marketing strategy for a culinary travel start-up.

  1. Project Management Capabilities

It’s all about execution for early-stage startups.  Founders must work with limited resources and limited time to bring their idea to fruition.  At PlacePass, that means I’m focused aggressively on good project management.  Whether we’re planning out a marketing campaign or developing a roadmap for the next iteration of our website, it’s essential that we plan and execute well.  At Fletcher I was able to develop very strong project management capabilities through group projects and by completing my thesis.

  1. The Fletcher Network

The strength of Fletcher’s alumni network is unparalleled.  It still amazes me how the Fletcher community comes together to provide answers, questions, connections, ideas, and inspiration.  This has been crucial for me at PlacePass on a number of fronts.  When I face a question or issue I can’t solve internally, I have an entire network of Fletcher colleagues ready to help point me in the right direction.  Traveling for work, I know that there will always be Fletcher friends or Fletcher connections willing to meet me and help me navigate a new city or culture.  Most importantly, my Fletcher classmates provide much-needed personal support as I pursue this venture.  It’s not easy starting a business, and I am grateful for and humbled by the encouragement and enthusiasm my classmates have demonstrated.

Emily and team

The PlacePass team (Emily, with Ethan Hawkes, co-founder, and Jeff Mathew, CTO) testing out virtual reality travel experiences in their Cambridge office.


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A bleary-eyed community filled Fletcher yesterday, having followed U.S. election news late into the night.  And speaking of news, today I’ll share some items that you may have missed on other Fletcher sources.

First, for those who still want to read about politics, Fletcher alumnus and one-time presidential candidate Bill Richardson, F71, offered thoughts pre-election for what should happen post-election.

Among more recent alumni, Erik Iverson, F09, F13, has been selected as one of 16 White House Fellows this year.  Erik was a friend of Admissions during his years here, and I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch now-and-then since his graduation.

And, in one of those typically atypical post-Fletcher careers, Marina Pevzner Hennessy, F06, was recently the subject of a Tufts Now story about Plan Bee, her venture to bring bees to Myanmar.

Though he’s not quite an alumnus, Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  President Santos spent a year at Fletcher as a research fellow in the early 1980s.

A new Fletcher scholarship has recently been endowed in the name of Harry Radcliffe, F73, an award-winning journalist with vast experience.

In faculty news, Diana Chigas, F88, has been named the University’s Associate Provost and Senior International Officer.  She will be responsible for engaging leaders across the schools to enhance Tufts’ outreach, impact and visibility internationally.

Retired professor William Moomaw, who maintains his connection with Tufts as co-director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), recorded “How Restorative Development Can Address Climate Change” with WGBH, one of our local public radio and television stations.  In the interview, he discussed industrial agriculture, synthetic fertilizers and more natural approaches to farming that will revive the health of soil, water and air.

And here are two stories that interested me, and might interest you, though the link is to Tufts University more generally, not to Fletcher.

First, a statue of famed American abolitionist, John Brown, was discovered hidden at Tufts.  Beyond those basic facts is a tale of museum sleuth work and the historical connections between Tufts, its neighbors, and the Underground Railroad.

And second, the story of the creation of the Daily Skimm, by an alumna of the undergraduate program at Tufts.

Last of all, I’ll leave you with the recently-launched video introducing Fletcher to new audiences.  On a personal note, I’ll add only that Kaddu Sebunya, F02, was once a student member of the Admissions Committee.  And that’s what’s best about my job.  I get so much from interacting with folks during this brief pause in their careers.  Then off they go to do great things in whatever area they choose.

 

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