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I’m going to be stuck in a meeting all morning, but I’m lucky again that students sent a blog idea into my inbox. Not just any idea, but an exciting bit of news for lovers of competition!
The Huffington Post is sponsoring the Reader’s Choice Awards for the IGNITEgood Millennial Impact Challenge, described as “a nationwide search for ideas to make the world better through service.” Among the 200 social innovators (under the age of 30) who submitted their ideas are TWO who are affiliated with Fletcher. Wow!
The second is that of PhD student Kartikeya Singh, affiliated with ENVenture, which he describes in an email as seeking “to empower youth to participate in the emerging energy entrepreneurship field, whilst simultaneously tackling energy poverty issues in the developing world. Winning this award will launch the pilot in Uganda and will push us into being able to expand to India. ENVenture fellows will create business plans and address the barriers to scaling of decentralized energy technologies in the developing world.” ENVenture is competing in the Green category.
Lucky for Fletcher, you can vote in each of the two categories. The competition ends November 26. Good luck Manjula and Kartikeya!
Tagged with: Student Stories
Those who have been reading the blog for a while and others who have scrolled through the archives may remember Manjula, a rock-star 2012 graduate. When we talked in the spring, Manjula agreed to my request to follow his story a little further, especially since he is continuing work started at Fletcher (as described in the spring’s blog post). Recently, he sent me the first of what I hope will be a series of updates. He wrote, “My post-Fletcher life as a social entrepreneur dedicated to Educate Lanka has been a challenging journey, but a very exciting one at the same time.” And he listed some of the highlights of the four short months since he left campus:
- The “It Only Takes Ten” campaign to raise funds for Educate Lanka was successfully launched and has made significant progress.
- Our story was published on USAID/State Department’s Diaspora Forum.
- I presented a speech at the U.S. State Department’s South Asian American Employee Association Cultural Diversity Event.
- VEGA (Volunteers for Economic Growth) presented me a Diaspora Volunteer Award and partnered with Educate Lanka.
- Our project on Global Giving was a success and is ongoing.
- I was interviewed for a Sri Lankan television (Young Asia Television) program.
Manjula and Educate Lanka are still benefiting from the support of his former classmates. Last spring, Fletcher students, faculty, and staff recorded two videos to kick off the “It Only Takes Ten” campaign. The videos are similar, but I’m going to share both anyway.
Many languages, One Meaning
and Many Countries, One Meaning
Quite a few Fletcher students have a goal to establish a nonprofit, and it’s an inspiration to all of us to observe Manjula’s work. He tells me that he has a few more projects lined up for the coming months. I’ll be checking in with him so that I can provide an update toward the end of the year.
Tagged with: Student Stories
It would be entirely frivolous for Admissions staff members to emphasize their role as match-makers. First, making matches is not an appropriate use of our time. Second, once we admit students, we can’t control who meets whom.
And yet…many students meet their spouses while at Fletcher, and I have decided to take credit for the happiness of two 2012 grads. I first met Ho-Ming in 2007, when she visited for an interview before she applied to Fletcher and, later, deferred her enrollment. Then, in the fall of 2009, I interviewed Aaron. Probably, I didn’t have wedded bliss in mind as I spoke to them as applicants. Probably. But just maybe, I knew, in the depths of my subconscious, that here were two prospective students who were meant for each other.
I think it’s fair to say that Ho-Ming and Aaron left campus after graduation in May with a lot of balls in the air, creating some uncertainty in their lives, but one thing was clear — they were going to drive cross-country before embarking on the next phase. So they bought an old van (Volkswagon Vanagon to be precise), adopted a puppy (Bean), and headed west. Along the way, they eloped!
Here they are, with Bean and the van:
And here they are, in Chicago, looking all married:
And now they’re in Indonesia, where Aaron has a job and Ho-Ming (last I heard) seemed well on her way to landing one of her own.
After I emailed Ho-Ming to ask if I could write about her and Aaron in the blog, she gave me the o.k. and noted that she had recently seen a photo of Fletcher alumni in Washington, DC and that there were four Fletcher couples from her year alone. “Definitely something about Fletcher,” she wrote. But most of those couples, I’ll guess, didn’t elope and then travel halfway around the world.
If, like me, you have a soft spot for happy endings, you can read more about the elopement here. And I should note that I borrowed the photos from that website, which credits them to “I Luv Photo.”
Tagged with: Fletcher couples
I’m always drawn to stories about the average Fletcher graduate. Yes, we can (and do) point to plenty of ambassadors or prime ministers whose great accomplishments shine a favorable light on their Fletcher education. We’re all proud that Thomas Pickering and Bill Richardson are Fletcher alums, but what about students who aren’t destined to represent the U.S. at the United Nations? The reality is that most of our alumni lead lives of quieter accomplishment. In my view, their success is the best indicator of what an incoming student’s post-Fletcher life might resemble.
In that spirit, here’s a nice story from The Boston Globe about a graduate of the PhD program. (Apologies for all the ads on the Globe page.) I didn’t work in Admissions at the point when Banafsheh sent the letter she describes, but Fletcher is fortunate that previous staffers acted upon it.
This is a Fletcher story: Of the community that connects us, and about one person’s achievement in uniting the community while improving the world.
The guy on the left in the photo above is Ben Sklaver. Ben graduated from Fletcher in 2003 and, having volunteered for the Army Reserve, was commissioned when he graduated. While on active duty in the Horn of Africa, Ben spent considerable time in northern Uganda, where his work often focused on improving access to safe drinking water. Upon his return to the U.S. in 2007, he founded a non-profit, ClearWater Initiative, to continue that work. ClearWater says that, in its first two years, Ben’s efforts helped provide clean water to several thousand Ugandans, prompting many in the region to refer to him as “Moses Ben.”
In 2009, Ben was redeployed, this time to Afghanistan, where he worked in a civil affairs unit performing work similar to what he had done in Uganda. On October 2, 2009, at age 32, he was killed by a suicide bomber while on foot patrol in in Kandahar province.
The loss of its visionary leader didn’t stop ClearWater. The organization says that:
Since Ben’s death, we have worked to fulfill his vision of compassion and hope for those whose lives are challenged by strife and uncertainty. Our goal has remained the same: to bring water and, ultimately, health and opportunity to those far less fortunate than we are, and in doing this, we have facilitated access to clean water for nearly 7,000 people. ClearWater Initiative is now a full-time operation with staff in the U.S. and Uganda. For our fifth anniversary year, we will implement 20 projects in hard-to-reach areas of northern Uganda. We are proud of all we have accomplished and know that Ben would be amazed to see how far ClearWater has come.
People who have been around Fletcher for a while haven’t forgotten Ben or his story, but he and ClearWater were brought back to my attention recently via a letter from ClearWater’s (volunteer) CEO (and Ben’s classmate), David Abraham ’03. About Ben, David wrote:
I admired him for his integrity, his respect for others and his decency that sprung from deep within. He was younger than me, but still would act as an older brother. He had a wisdom and also a vision of how he could make the world a better place, but never grandiose visions of curing the world of all its ills — just the part he touched. He searched for creative yet simple solutions to solve complex and seemingly intractable problems in remote parts of the globe. Inaction was anathema to Ben. While others talked, he acted.
Along the way, Ben’s Fletcher peers have stepped forward to support, many in a highly active way, his vision. David’s letter mentions classmates who volunteer as trustees, fundraisers, technical advisors, and overall enthusiastic supporters. The most recent newsletter highlights a Fletcher alum volunteering in Uganda. Finally, David goes on to say, “ClearWater is the embodiment of the Fletcher ethos, that through compassion, understanding and dialogue, we can make the world that much better. ClearWater is a piece of us all. And I hope you will continue to support us, and help forward Ben’s legacy.”
With Egypt back in the news, We are Egypt, a documentary film by 2008 Fletcher graduate Lillie Paquette is very timely. She describes the film as the back-story to the Egyptian revolution, and she has offered screenings throughout the U.S., even as she’s raising funds for post-production and distribution expenses. Check it out.
You may have seen this article in Diplomatic Courier, which features the “Top 99 Most Influential International Professionals Under 33.” If you didn’t see the original article, you might have seen the Fletcher take on it, listing our nine alumni among the Top 99, including two in the Top 9.
I thought I’d share some of the reaction of my Admissions colleagues. After students circulated the link to the article via the Social List, Kristen sent me a note saying how proud she was, and that “it also makes me feel like a bit of an old-timer, as I recognized our students’ names without looking them up.” Then Laurie and I chatted about how clearly we remembered reading many (or, in Laurie’s case, all) of the applications, with Matan’s particularly standing out in my mind. We always feel that personal connection to students, starting with their applications and continuing as they make their mark on the Fletcher community.
Frankly, it doesn’t take an Admissions genius to have seen the potential in one of these people who, so quickly, have made an impact. Ultimately, the most gratifying aspect of the story, from the Admissions perspective, is that the nine chose Fletcher as the place where they would hone their skills and broaden their perspectives — giving Fletcher the opportunity to play a role in shaping them before they moved along to the wider world.
For those who may not have been able to keep up with Fletcher alumni intrepid travelers profiled in the blog here and here, I’m ready to provide an update. First, the latest on our team in Iceland, Charlie Scott and family. I caught up with Charlie when I was in New York last weekend and heard more about the trip than I had read on his blog. It sounds like a great adventure, and I was relieved to hear that, though his blog photos don’t show it, they did indeed see both the hay bales and rainbows that were a constant on my own trip to Iceland a few years ago. Planning has begun for next summer’s adventure. If (as Charlie is currently thinking) it includes the Alps, I’ll certainly let you know via the blog.
Still on the road are Alex and Colin, aka TeamFletch. Looks like they’re close to the Mongolian border, despite a fuel shortage that they describe in their blog, and a need for duct tape that they describe in their twitter feed.
Should you find yourself with spare funds, consider a donation to TeamFletch’s charities.
All of a sudden, a little Fletcher news.
First (and you may already know about this if you follow The Fletcher School or Fletcher Admissions on facebook), we find out about Dean Bosworth’s week: he’s meeting with a North Korean government minister in New York. Nuclear arms and food aid will, according to news reports, be on the agenda. That will make for an awesome “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay, should anyone ask Dean Bosworth to write one.
Next, I was listening to the radio the other day and heard Fletcher alum Elliot Ackerman (class of 2003) discuss the goal of his organization, Americans Elect, to create a new nominating process that would give candidates outside of the usual two political parties a chance to compete in national elections. Elliot is Americans Elect’s chief operating officer.
Finally, something of personal interest to me. This afternoon, Fletcher will host a live broadcast of the BBC’s World Have Your Say. The show will feature 100 young women, ages 15-19, from around the world. My daughter, Kayla, is one of those young women! She’s participating all week in Women2Women, and it was quite a surprise to hear she’d be visiting my workplace (along with 99 new friends and a BBC crew). The word we’ve received is that all of this is taking place from 1:00 to 3:00 local time (which is GMT-4), and the BBC web site confirms that the show is broadcast at 1700 GMT. I hope you’ll join me in tuning in!
Tagged with: Community
I encourage you to keep up with the adventure of Fletcher alum Charlie Scott and his two children, but they’re not the only ones taking unusual trips this summer. Consider Alex Wise and Colin Wood, both 2011 grads, who describe their upcoming trip below. I know I’ll be following their progress, and I’ll provide updates via the blog.
With each successive trip, the ante is upped: for Alex, first it was backpacking in Europe, then climbing Kilimanjaro; for Colin it was editing a Sumatran guide book and then moving to Algeria. Colin and Alex (collectively known as Team Fletch) graduated from Fletcher this past May.
A bit older and a bit wiser, we’ve decided to tackle a new challenge — a road rally, or more specifically, the Mongol Rally. The Mongol Rally is an adventure-quenching, bone-rattling 10,000 mile drive across three deserts, five mountain ranges, and fifteen countries. The Rally begins in Prague and ends roughly six weeks later in Ulanbaator, Mongolia roughly six weeks later. The only real rule is that vehicles must be tiny — with an approximate engine size of 1.2 liters (think your grandmother’s car) — otherwise it would be too easy.
The Mongol Rally is a charitable event and Team Fletch is raising money for two worthy organizations. The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation supports Mongolian street children, and the Afghan Scholar Initiative (ASI) provides high school and university scholarships to top Afghani students. ASI is special to us as we’ve both worked in Afghanistan, and our friend and Fletcher classmate, Qiam Amiry, founded the organization.
For the 300 rally cars that have entered, there is no set route, no winner, no adoring fans, no support, and not many paved roads. Our planned route will take us from Prague eastward to Central Asia and through the (affectionately dubbed) “-stans” (except Afghanistan & Pakistan). Along the way, we’ll visit cities that evoke grandeur of old — Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad, home to Mother Russia, the tallest statue in the world), Samarkand (trading post on the Silk Road visited by Marco Polo); and Sevastopol (popularized by Lord Tennyson and site of the Charge of the Light Brigade). This will be our first rally experience and, with limited navigational sensibilities, and zero mechanical know-how, it will be a true pedal to the metal test of whether charm, book smarts, and a lot of travel experience is actually enough to reach Mongolia via tiny vehicle. As the Rally kicks off on July 25th, follow our progress at teamfletch.org where an interactive map will receive location updates every ten minutes.
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