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The fact that I didn’t write about my weekend yesterday or on Monday may have had you breathing a sigh of relief.  Alas, I’m not giving up so easy on my favorite blog topic — I just didn’t have time to do it justice.  Even today, I’m only going to mention two activities that were a little different from my usual.  The first was a bike ride on Sunday morning to Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford.  As we were riding through the tall reeds by the side of the Mystic River, Paul said, “It’s like being in….”  I couldn’t hear the end of his sentence, but it doesn’t matter.  Whatever he may have said, the point is that riding along the park path is certainly not like being close to a major roadway across from an auto dealer.  Our ride took an hour and a quarter, including some diversions, but it could easily be done in an hour or less from campus.

On the opposite end of the activity spectrum (earning calories, rather than burning them), Kayla and I made a pilgrimage to Verna’s Donut Shop in North Cambridge.  The Boston area has a high donut to population ratio, this being traditional donut country, and Verna’s takes you back to kinder, gentler donut days.  Plus, Verna’s donuts are delicious.  After drinking our coffees and eating our donuts (one plain, one glazed), we headed for the door, but not before indulging in an additional purchase, a whoopie pie.

That neighborhood of North Cambridge — given the way Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford nest together — is only a mile from campus, and it’s loaded with great little restaurants.  Walk over to Verna’s for a donut, and pick a place for a future dinner, too.

 

Summer blogging is easy when I convince myself that writing about my weekend gives incoming or prospective students a glimpse of what’s happening around town.  Although Paul and I have our roots in larger cities (London and New York), we have lived in the Boston area for a long time, and I love the range of activities that are so easily accessible.  With that, I will now proceed to tell you about my busy weekend.

I was off from work on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll start my weekend rundown with Thursday.  After dropping my bicycle off to be tuned and running a few more errands, I headed over to Yoshi’s (Japanese food at moderate prices, right near campus) for lunch.  There, I met Helen Anderson from the Office of Career Services and another old Fletcher friend for a reunion.  The three of us hadn’t managed to get together in a long time, and we only barely managed to eat while maintaining a lively conversation covering all relevant topics.

After lunch, I went over to Hanscom Air Force Base to attend a ceremony honoring a friend and her work.  She has been a civilian with the Air Force for many years, but now she’s off to new adventures.  I have been near and around the base before, but never on it — a new adventure for me.

Thursday evening found us at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square for a concert (music and a dose of politics) by Billy Bragg.  Davis was hopping on a warm summer night!

Friday was taken over by domestic chores, but after dinner Paul and I met up with Kristen and her family (husband Sam and daughter Lucia) at the annual Cambridge Dance Party.  Little Lucia has some really special moves! But she also has an early bedtime, so off they went and Paul and I circled around, meeting up with a few friends.  We stayed long enough to see City Hall covered in lights.

On Saturday afternoon, we hopped on the T and walked along the Boston waterfront, viewing the tall ships that were in town for the Harborfest.

It’s a particularly big event this year, including both Navy Week and the tall ships with OpSail Boston, and coinciding with the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  I particularly liked this little boat.  If he eats well, he can grow up into a full-sized tugboat:

Along the way, we were distracted by the Institute of Contemporary Art and dashed in to see an exhibit of glassworks by Josiah McElheny.  The ICA is cantilevered over the harbor.

You see those people through the front window of the building?  Here’s their view:

Dinner was in Brighton (a neighborhood of Boston) with my cousin and my cousin’s cousins, including a two-week old baby whose mother is a double Jumbo (undergrad and Friedman).

Sunday morning, bright and early, Paul and I dashed up to our favorite beach in Revere.  I am Revere’s biggest fan — I love the ethnic mix on the beach whenever we’re there (primarily Russian spoken in the morning, Portuguese in the afternoon).  We grabbed breakfast at a local restaurant where I can always count on seeing a big group of long-time customers in the midst of lively conversation.

After lunch, Paul took Josh out to shop for appropriate clothing for his new workplace, and I took Kayla out to find the extra-long twin sheets and other things she’ll need for her college dormitory.  Back home in time to see Spain top Italy in the Euro 2012 Football Championship.  A busy weekend-plus, which supplied me with a blog post, and which I hope gives you a sense of how much can be done within a short distance of Fletcher.

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It is hot hot hot today, but on another day, when a walk outside would be more enjoyable, I’m going to saunter over to the gallery at the Aidekman Arts Center to check out two new exhibits.  The first is The Boston–Jo’burg Connection — interesting art with an interesting back-story.

Rounding out my cultural field trip will be a second exhibit — photographs by university photographers.  Though most of the pix are not closely linked to Fletcher life, I like to imagine that our students get out into the greater community now and then.

If you visit Fletcher this summer, consider leaving a little time to wander around the Tufts campus and check out the Arts Center.  But if you don’t have time to cross campus, you don’t need to go culture-free.  The Fletcher Perspectives exhibit of student photography is conveniently located in Ginn Library.

Perspectives is a student-run organization and it has just emerged from a year’s hiatus.  The photos currently on display represent a variety of styles and locations, including this one from Turkey.

No plans for a visit this summer?  Check out the complete collection online.

 

As someone who can fall victim to distractions, I’ve always valued the slightly-out-of-the-center-of-things location of Tufts.  Students can focus on student life while on campus.  Or they can wander a short distance from campus to surrounding neighborhoods with food, services, and fun.  A short distance further off, they’re in the broader academic community of Cambridge.  Or, with little fuss, they can take advantage of all that Boston has to offer.  For starters, from Fletcher, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the subway (which we all call “the T”).  Bus lines broaden the territory covered by mass transit (and make it easy for students to find housing with easy access to campus).  Here’s what our options look like:

Buses 80, 94, and 96 actually come onto the campus, and the 87, 88 have stops five minutes from Fletcher.   (Curtis Street and Packard Avenue bracket Fletcher on the Tufts campus.  You can find the full map here.)  So transportation links are pretty easy.

But what if all these multicolored noodles of bus and subway lines make it seem that traveling to Boston is a major expedition?  Well, if you have a little time, you can always choose to walk or bike.  Here’s one suggested route, for a day when you want to ice skate at the Boston Common (or, in summer, join the crowd of children splashing in the spray pool):


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Sure, it’s five miles, but five miles seems like a nice balance — a quiet campus that’s only a long walk from everything.

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Planning to be in the Boston area this week?  Take advantage of this once-in-four-years opportunity to attend the Los Fletcheros Leap Day Extravaganza.  Fletcheros and fans will be gathering Wednesday, February 29 at Johnny D’s at 8:00 p.m.  Fletchero press releases claim that the “The Los Fletcheros Leap Day Extravaganza Event is one of the most highly anticipated events of Davis Square’s quadrennial celebration!”

Blog readers, don’t be disturbed by the Fletcheros’ tendency to overuse articles (“the” and “Los”) in English and Spanish.  And do consider attending.

I know one thing I won’t be doing on Sunday afternoon or evening.  I will not be speaking to my son, Josh.  Why?  Because Josh is a HUGE fan of the New England Patriots, and our local football team is playing in its first Super Bowl since 2008.  (The less said about the 2008 game, the better.)  All Josh’s Sunday energy will be tied up with willing the Patriots to victory, and a phone call from his mother will not be welcome.

Boston is a sports town, but it hasn’t always been the host of winning teams.  Until, suddenly, it was.  Now there’s an annual expectation that some team in some league should be winning.  Not the Red Sox this year?  The Bruins will take their place in local sports fans’ hearts.  Hopes are riding high for the Patriots.

Fletcher, being an international community, includes many people with limited knowledge of American football.  Into that information gap step second-year students Chris and Charlie, who have kindly offered a one-time seminar on the game.  Inviting their fellow students to attend (via the Social List, of course), they said:

Every year in September, Americans go absolutely crazy.

We reconstruct our social lives so that we have nothing to do on the weekends and can spend hours in front of the TV.  Our mental sanity is based on the success and/or failure of 18 and 19-year-old amateurs or 35-year-old professionals with reconstructed knees, hips, and ankles, and potential brain injuries.  We spend billions of dollars to sit outside in the freezing cold or the blistering heat, only to get really, really angry.

Why do we do this?  Because we love our football.  Our American football.  Our gridiron.  This Sunday, the crazy will come to an insane peak.  Over 100 million Americans will watch three hours of Super Bowl action between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

If you’re interested in learning about the game of football, then join us for an explanation of the sport, the industry, and the passion.  In addition to being useful this Sunday, it might serve you in the future — around the water cooler, on a date, or even at a conference.  We Americans love our sports (especially football) and often end up talking about it, probably more often than we should.

For those interested in the international relations side of American football, two players in the Super Bowl have noteworthy backgrounds.  Mathias Kiwanuka, a player for the New York Giants, is the grandson of the first Prime Minister of Uganda, Benedicto Kiwanuka.  And Sebastian Vollmer, a player for the New England Patriots, is the only German in the National Football League.

Trust Fletcher students to find the international angle!  With the community educated, and my fingers crossed for Josh and all Boston sports nuts, we’re counting down to the game.  Go Pats!

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This past week was so busy that, alas, I didn’t have a chance to tell you about the Honk Fest or the dueling Davis Square and Harvard Square Oktoberfests, or any of the other events that kept us busy last weekend.  I don’t have much planned for this weekend, but I hope the weather will hold out for some apple picking.  Meanwhile, a quick note that the Office will be closed on Monday, October 10 for a public holiday.  We’ll be back on Tuesday the 11th, and counting down to our first application deadline of the year, for students who wish to enroll in January 2012!

 

It’s a beautiful day today!  Clear blue skies and cool dry air.  Quite the contrast from yesterday’s wet and windy weather, when Hurricane Irene blew through.  The campus seems to have escaped with not much more than downed tree branches.  With clean-up already underway, the storm will soon be just a memory.

The timing for the storm was definitely sub-optimal for Fletcher, but despite canceled flights and suspended train service, a remarkable number of new students managed to make their way into town.  Info packets in hand, they streamed into ASEAN Auditorium at 9:00, and are now midway through their first morning of Orientation.  I’ve heard that about 40 would-be-Orientees have contacted the Registrar’s Office to say they’ll arrive late because of storm delays.  I hope that most will be at Fletcher within the next day or so — Orientation is a time to gather nuts-and-bolts information about the School, but it’s also a great opportunity to meet classmates and start the academic year feeling like part of a community.

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Dinner tonight will be quiet for Paul, Kayla, and me.  This morning, we delivered the exchange students from Iraq who have been staying with us to their meeting place, before they flew off to Washington, DC.  This is the second year that my family has hosted participants in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, and my daughter Kayla had an IYLEP internship.  The Boston contingent was big this year, and we agreed to take on three students — a high schooler from Sulaymaniyah in the north, a 24-year-old mentor to the group, from Baghdad, and a 16-year-old U.S. participant from San Diego.  Ten days, four jars of Nutella, and a bazillion pitas and Lebanese and Afghan breads later, we sadly sent them on their way.

The program came to Fletcher last night for a panel presentation and an Iftar dinner.  Most of the kids who might have wanted to fast for Ramadan will do so when they’re back home, but the Iftar still gave them a chance to share a little of their culture with their host families.  A few Fletcher students joined us, but my real hope is that the organizations running IYLEP will think of Fletcher students when it comes time to do some hiring!

For our family, hosting IYLEP students is certainly a chance to learn about Iraq, but I think the greater value for me is in the opportunity to contribute to future leaders.  I like the idea that they have this time in the U.S. to develop their leadership and communication skills, and to think about their own society and how they can add to it.  Meanwhile, their host parents buzz around them and ensure they’re safe, rested, and properly fed.  I believe in these kids — whether on the local or a higher level, they’re going to do something great!

But, for now, I feel sad about the quiet left in Soma, Worood, and Breanna’s wake, even as I know the wonders of modern connectivity will keep us in contact.  Plus, the world, if anything, is growing smaller, and we’ll see each other again some time — maybe even when they (or their IYLEP peers) enroll at Fletcher.

 

Every so often, I remind myself that many blog readers are shivering in the southern hemisphere.  But I’m mid-summer (along with the majority of our applicants), so I’ll just apologize now for neglecting those of you south of the equator, while I struggle to keep the season from slipping away as fast as it might.

This isn’t a vacation-filled summer for my family, but Paul (my husband) and I put together a local mini-vacation this weekend.  With occasional chores and errands mixed in, we started on Friday with lunch at a dim sum place we like in Chinatown.  Then off to the Fuller Craft Museum, which we’ve never been to, and were rewarded with some fun exhibitions.  Once in that corner of the Greater Boston area, it was only a short hop to Ikea, which we escaped with only modest damage to our wallets.  Back home for a farmers’ market dinner — a nice salad and some grilled bluefish, all from the Davis Square market.

An early start on Saturday, and we jumped on the 9:00 fast ferry to Provincetown, where we had a nice lunch, a lovely dinner, and lots of walking around in between.  We also parked ourselves in the shade of the garden at the Provincetown Art Museum for a while.  Very vacation-y!

Sunday started slow — alternating work in the garden with a little relaxation — and then off to a late afternoon visit to Revere Beach with my son, Josh, and his girlfriend.  We fortified ourselves with pastries from Lupita Bakery (where Lupita always gives me a look of approval when I say I take my coffee with milk but no sugar).  After a few hours of reading, people watching (many soccer games in play), and walking on the beach, we had dinner (including a durian shake) at a Cambodian restaurant that is another of our favorite Revere spots.

Back to work today — but still enjoying the mini-vacation by writing about it.  The blog will return to admissions-related topics later this week.

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