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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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When Admissions life is quiet in the summer, I turn to my home life for blog inspiration, making the bold assumption that blog readers want to know about Fletcher’s neighborhood.

And this past weekend, we packed in a lot of the activities that remind me how nice it is to live in a mid-sized metropolitan area.  In addition to miscellaneous chores on Saturday, my husband, Paul, and I went to see “The Trip” (funny!) and followed my hankering for a bibimbap to a Korean restaurant for dinner.  On Sunday, we picked strawberries (21 pounds — many already consumed) and spent a few cloudy but relaxing hours at the beach.

But it’s Friday evening’s activity that I’ll most recommend for blog readers’ June 2012 enjoyment:  the Central Square Dance Party.  Stretching from Cambridge City Hall to the YMCA that featured in Jhumpa Lahiri’s story, “The Third and Final Continent,” the party starts at 7:00, when children occupy much of the dance “floor,” and runs until 11, when it looks like any other dance party, except better because you’re in the middle of a major street.  My favorite source of tips on upcoming Boston events, Johnny, agrees that the dance party is a must-do!  There are quite a few clips of the party (both 2011 and previous years’) on Youtube.  I like this one best.  Mark it on your calendar, and I’ll see you on the dance floor next year!

 

The final entry in the blog’s tourist-guide week goes to Peter, who takes you north and south with his suggestions.

It’s no secret that this region is somewhat obsessed with rivalries — from baseball (Go Sox!) and basketball, to chowder and cannolis, in Boston it’s all about loyalty to your team (or chowder purveyor).  While Massachusetts isn’t a huge state, it does have more than its share of coastline, which has helped create a rivalry of the geographic variety — the North Shore vs. South Shore. The North Shore includes coastal communities up through Cape Ann, while the South Shore extends down in the direction of Cape Cod — with Boston proper serving as the dividing line between the two.  The debate centers on important topics such as food, beaches, schools, traffic, and weather; and, it seems, everyone has an opinion.

Living in the Somerville/Cambridge area (north of the city, but just across the river from Boston), I’ve held out on choosing a geographic favorite for almost eight years, equally enjoying my time with friends down in Scituate and relaxing on Singing Beach up the coast in Manchester-by-the-Sea (yes, that is the town’s actual name).  It is hard to remain neutral forever, and eventually one thing tipped the scales:  the classic New England clam shack.  A few years back, I began to explore the various rustic seafood establishments scattered about the coastal communities of Cape Ann, and it has quickly become a favorite summer pastime.  I’ve enjoyed “No Nonsense, No Celery” lobster rolls at the Lobster Pool, overlooking picturesque Folly Cove, and delicious fried clams at JT Farnham’s, while sitting at a picnic table beside a salt marsh.  Even those with Southern (Massachusetts) leanings will (reluctantly) admit that the North Shore wins the debate in the clam shack department — in fact, there’s even a clam shack that is shaped like a clam box (the aptly named “Clam Box”).  While I still can’t say which establishment is the best — a classic New England debate in and of itself — I’m looking forward to conducting more delicious research this summer.

Note: Fletcher is on the Medford/Somerville line, which is just north of Boston and a short drive away from fried clam heaven!

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Continuing this week’s travel guide theme, I first want to suggest you check out the places Fletcher students have been visiting, in the second annual “Where is Fletcher” video.  On dry land, or underwater, those students get around!

But more locally, let’s hear from Kristen and Liz, who provide suggestions of activities that are easily accessible from campus.

Kristen recommends:
One of my favorite Boston activities is getting out and walking.  For an American city, Boston is very walkable, and taking the city on foot is one of the best ways to get to know each neighborhood.  Among my favorite pleasant-weather walks is to start on the Charles River near MIT and the “Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge,” and then wander down Mass Ave (no one here calls it Massachusetts Avenue — those extra syllables are too pesky).  Mass Ave has a great collection of watering holes (I particularly like the Miracle of Science), scandal-ridden ice cream shops, and Indian markets.  You can feel the personality of the street change from the quiet area filled with architectural behemoths around MIT, to the salty collection of characters at Central Square, to pure Cambridge academia at Harvard Square.

Liz says:
I don’t often get out into the city, as I live a little north of Medford, so I should really be taking suggestions from my peers on things to do.  However, there is one activity I’ve done a few times that I found to be fun and a bit different:  Afternoon tea at the Taj Boston (formerly the Ritz Carlton).  I know, it sounds stuffy and boring, but I’ve had a really great time, especially with a good group of friends.  The room is lovely and it has this sort of aura from another era about it.  I do enjoy tea, and they have a nice assortment to choose from.  (No Lipton tea bags here!)  Then there is the food.  I’m not much of a sweets kinda gal, but they have many different pastries, scones, and desserts to choose from.  Best, and what I really enjoy, are all the different types of finger sandwiches!  It’s a unique way to spend an afternoon in Boston with friends.  If you do get the chance, I certainly recommend trying it at least once.

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Boston is a very compact city:  Even if you’re here on a short visit, you can access out-of-town sites.  Laurie and Roxana want to sell you on a few of their favorites:

Laurie says:
One of the best things about living in the Boston area is that there are so many places that can be reached for a quick day trip.  Among my favorites is the southern coast of Maine.  Just jump in a car with a few Fletcher friends and, in about 90 minutes, you’ll be there.  I recommend starting with a long walk on Ogunquit Beach.  The beach is beautiful and you can walk about two miles along the sand dunes or the water.  The water is very cold (even in the summer), but that doesn’t stop people from riding the waves.

After your beach visit, head to Perkins Cove, where you’ll find some great restaurants with fantastic views, and cute little shops and galleries.  In Perkins Cove, you can take a lobster boat tour.  Or skip the tour and just eat some lobster.  From Perkins Cove, pick up the Marginal Way — an amazing one-mile path along the rocky coast.  Your next stop should be the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse in York, Maine.  The lighthouse is stunning and the area near the lighthouse is a great place for rock jumping.  Not far from the lighthouse is Brown’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, one of my favorite ice cream places.  (Maine Blueberry flavor is a must try.)  On your way home, you can stop in Kittery, Maine for great outlet shopping.  I hope that you decide to take this day trip — you will not be disappointed!

Roxana recommends:
While you’re a student at Fletcher, one of the things you must do is take a day trip to Salem, MA in October.  My friends and I have made it an annual tradition.  Rich with the history of Colonial America, and the site of the original Salem Witch Trials, Salem is especially fun in October for the obvious reason — witches!!  During your October visit, you can go to the Salem Witch Museum or the House of Seven Gables, take a Haunted Trolley tour, walk through the Burying Point cemetery, have your palm read by a real witch, and so much more!  There’s something different to do each time you go.  To get the full effect of Halloween without all the hustle and bustle of Halloween day itself, plan your visit for any other weekend in October.  The street vendors, the crisp fall air, and the beautiful Massachusetts foliage make a quick trip to Salem a must while you’re here at Fletcher!

 

Paul and I have English visitors staying with us this week — his aunt and uncle, Penny and John, who have never been to the U.S. before.  Paul is quite the energetic tour guide, and they’ve covered a lot of territory since arriving on Tuesday.

If you prefer to do your touring over the course of, say, two years while in graduate school (or even if your time will also be limited), you may want some suggestions of what to see.  Fortunately, my Admissions pals have volunteered to supply the blog with their ideas!  I’m going to start with Jeff, whose list happens to include Penny and John’s plan for today while Paul and I are working.  Jeff (who enthusiastically ignored my suggested word limit) writes:

How does one keep a blog entry concise when there is so much to be said about the topic?  While you are visiting or studying at Fletcher, there are many things to do on this side of the river, but you also need to take time to visit the other side (Boston).  I’m sure the ideas that immediately come to my mind are already on your radar screen, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Freedom Trail.  I love walking, and Boston is a walking city.  The trail covers many of the attractions you’ll want to see while in town, from churches to parks to graveyards to shipyards; it’s a great 2.5 mile walk around the city.

If you are more of the museum type, one of my favorites is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Aside from the great artwork, the building itself is a sight to see — custom built with a beautiful garden courtyard in the middle.

Another place I enjoy visiting with out-of-town guests is the Samuel Adams Brewery, located in Jamaica Plain. (Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood of Boston only a few T stops away from downtown.)  The brewery tour lasts about an hour, a $2 donation is suggested, and tours culminate at the pub located inside the brewery with a few free samples.  While in the area (if you like nature), a stop at the Arnold Arboretum is a must.  The Arboretum is 265 acres, open from sunrise to sunset year round, with seasonal activities, walking tours and, of course, beautifully manicured trees and flowers.

Last, I would like to give a plug to the Boston Harbor Islands, made up of 34 islands, including 35 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 1600 acres of land.  If you are in town during the spring, summer or fall, and have a free day, you can hop on a ferry to one (or more) of the islands to hike, picnic, explore, kayak, fish, or swim.  Plus, there are two national historic landmarks on the islands:  Fort Warren is located on George’s Island and Boston Light is located on Little Brewster Island.  Only a few of the islands are accessible by ferry, while some can only be reached by taking a special tour.  However you get out there, it’s a nice way to take in a different view of Boston.

One last thing:  RESTAURANTS!  There are too many favorites to mention here.  Just stop by my office when you’re visiting, and I’ll be happy to chat.  Restaurants and food are among the most frequent topics of conversation between members of the Admissions staff.

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