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When you send us an email or call the Admissions Office, the person on the other end of your correspondence may very well be a current Fletcher student.  Our Student Interns are called on to do everything from endless photocopying to guiding visitors around the building.  We could never complete our work without them, but equally important is that we love getting to know them and having them around!  So that you’ll have a sense of the person who wrote the email you just received, the Student Interns will be introducing themselves through the blog.  First up are Daniel, Emma, and Rebekah, who between them give a good sense of the diversity of pre-Fletcher professional experience among our students.

Daniel:  I am a second-year MALD student focusing on International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and Human Security. My interests in conflict resolution include facilitated dialogue as part of problem-solving workshops, as well as conflict mediation.  Additionally I am interested in the role that the narratives of conflict in history curricula play in promoting reconciliation in post-conflict societies.  This interest stems from the eight years that I spent working in history education before coming to Fletcher.  I worked as a middle school history teacher, first with Teach for America in Brooklyn and subsequently at a private school in New Orleans.  Through the New Teacher Project, I also trained first-year history teachers to work in New Orleans schools.  I spent the past summer interning with Search for Common Ground in Zanzibar where (in addition to enjoying the beaches) I helped facilitate trainings for radio journalists, members of the Ministry of Good Governance and Zanzibari civil society.  During my time away from school I like to cook and explore the historical sites of Boston.

Emma:  Hello!  I am a first-year MALD student, born in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve called Portland, Oregon my home for the past several years.  I majored in Political Science at Reed College, where I focused on conflict studies and non-violent action.  Prior to Fletcher I worked for the regional government of Portland and its surrounding suburbs, building community support and consensus among various cities for large-scale transportation and economic development projects.  My concentrations here at Fletcher will be International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and International Security Studies.

There is a lot to do at Fletcher outside of the classroom, too!  I’m a staff editor for our foreign policy journal, The Fletcher Forum, as well as a volunteer for Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP).  Living close to Davis Square, and just a few T stops from Cambridge and Boston, also means that I get to explore my new city, eat a ton of delicious and diverse food, and enjoy my nerdy love of U.S. history.  I look forward to hearing from you all soon, and hopefully welcoming you to the Fletcher community!

Rebekah:  Hi everyone!  I am a first-year MALD student, originally from San Luis Obispo, California, a small city located on California’s Central Coast.  I attended Occidental College in Los Angeles for my undergraduate studies, where I majored in Diplomacy and World Affairs.  While at Occidental, I had the opportunity to study for a semester at two universities in Santiago, Chile and also spent the fall semester of my senior year in New York City interning with the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in the UN General Assembly.  After graduating, I moved to Washington, DC and spent two years working as an administrative and research assistant for an international trade consulting company, where I focused primarily on trade and investment issues in Latin America.

Here at Fletcher, my concentrations are Gender and Human Security (a self-designed field of study) and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.  In addition to working as a Student Intern in the Admissions Office, I am a member of the Fletcher Gender Initiative and Fletcher Runners.  I am so excited to be here at Fletcher, and I look forward to answering your questions as a Student Intern!

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Fletcher’s Ginn Library reference librarian, Ellen McDonald, and I share something in common: we both have had two Fletcher careers.  In Ellen’s case, both careers (separated by a long gap) were in the library.  I asked her to reflect on the amazing change to the library’s role in the sharing of information from her first career to her second.

Libraries are undergoing rapid change and Fletcher’s Ginn Library is no exception.  Thirty years ago, the central feature of the library’s Reference Room was eight sections of 72-drawer catalog cabinets.  Computers were tucked into a small room which contained four boxy terminals.  Students worked at the Reading Room tables or settled into individually assigned study carrels in the stacks.  The on-duty Reference Librarian could be found seated at a centrally located desk with a phone and small ready-reference book collection at hand.  The general rule of library etiquette was QUIET.

Today, Ginn Library looks and feels very different.  While quiet study space continues to be one of the library’s main attractions, Fletcher students today also require collaborative work space.  One of the major features of a Fletcher education is networking: sharing knowledge and the creation of lifetime bonds.  Changes in technology, research, teaching, and learning have created a very different context for the missions of academic libraries.  As scholarship has grown more interdisciplinary, so has the library’s space evolved to facilitate this transition.  Today, Ginn is filled with furniture and spaces that are easily adapted to changing research and study styles.  The lower stacks area is now a group study lounge, equipped with large screens and whiteboards.  The group project areas are abuzz with students interacting, teaching one another in peer-to-peer workshops and collaborating on group assignments.

Information abundance due to mass digitization means that librarians have more work guiding users to the right sources — scholarly content can get lost in the internet flood.  Increasingly, librarians serve as curators of information, determining what to collect, store and deliver…and what not to collect.  With information-on-demand and instant information gratification the rule of the day, googlized students are less likely to need the fact-checking skills of a Reference Librarian.  Increasingly, students and professors turn primarily to Ginn’s librarians for in-depths consultations about research papers, Capstone Projects, internships, dissertations and field work.  Many of these reference transactions have moved from a reference office and phone to an online chat or e-mail.  Some of our GMAP students prefer the technological synthesis of old and new interactions that Skype offers…a digital “face-to-face” meeting.

Ginn Reading RoomThe impact of digital technology pervades most every library function.  The library’s oak catalog disappeared twenty years ago and large portions of the collection have followed it into the virtual world.  The ability to digitally obtain material via interlibrary loans has exploded the physical limitations of the library’s collection.  Ginn has less need to store large runs of journals, as digital libraries and resource-sharing consortia proliferate.  But walk into the Reading Room, and you’ll be transported back in time to Fletcher’s beginnings when the photograph to the right was taken.  Some things will never change.  The walls here still contain the same treaty collections, state papers and legal treatises.  Portraits of former deans still line the walls.  The library as a physical place continues to be a hub of learning and a connection to our past and shared history.  Despite all that has changed over the decades in Ginn Library, visiting alumni will discover a library space that continues on as the heart of the Fletcher School — a place for connection, collaboration and contemplation.

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When we are not traveling for Admissions, we certainly take advantage of the summer to go on adventures of our own with family and friends.  Here is a glimpse of where we’re going!

Dan: We just returned from a visit to Ecuador.  I was a Peace Corps volunteer there years ago, so it was a homecoming of sorts for me, and an overdue introduction for my wife to the country in which I spent so much time.  We spent a few days with my host family in my old site, and also did a Galapagos tour.  Having virtually no natural predators in a protected environment, the animals there aren’t at all alarmed by people.  In fact, some of them are quite pushy; these publicity-hungry sea lions insisted on having their picture taken with me.

Dan and sea lion

Jessica: My summer has included a combination of one one-week vacation, several mini-vacations (two or three days), and a sprinkling of micro-vacations (12 hours).  One of the micro-vacations was to a place I had only heard of recently:  Cuttyhunk Island.  Hanging off the edge of Massachusetts, Cuttyhunk is one of the Elizabeth Islands, most of which are privately owned.  To reach Cuttyhunk, there’s a ferry from New Bedford that runs through the spring, summer, and fall, but it’s best to plan a visit for May/June or September, when some of the very few commercial enterprises are open but the crowds aren’t overwhelming.  Food options are very limited on the island, even in the summer, but they’re virtually non-existent in the winter.

We took bicycles over on the ferry, but I’m not sure I would make that choice again.  There aren’t many paved roads, and the island is small enough that you can cover a lot of the interesting territory on foot.  We took in the views, watched the seabirds, and enjoyed the scent of beach roses and honeysuckle.  We saw one deer, several rabbits, and many swans, including one sitting with her cygnets, making it clear that she didn’t want us to come any closer.  Chatting with the proprietor of the island’s fish market, I learned that there can be as few as ten people on the island in the winter, but hundreds in the summer when boaters like to dock there.  It was barely busy for our visit – enough visitors for the coffee place to open up, but few enough that we were able to be alone with the seagulls.  A lovely mini-vacation.


Liz: What I love about New England, and Boston in particular, is how you can do so much within just a few hours’ drive from the city.  I recently got to spend some time in Newport, RI for a wedding and had a great time in this quaint New England beach town.  Newport is less than two hours from Fletcher and truly has something for everyone.  There are lots of places to shop and some amazing restaurants.  I enjoy the Newport beaches, and you can tour some of the old Newport Mansions, many of which are on the famed Cliff Walk.  There is a local vineyard in nearby Middleton, where you can head for a wine tasting, and if you’re a tennis buff, you may want to check out the Tennis Hall of Fame.  I had an amazing time and think it’s a great town to check out for a day trip in New England!

Another one of my favorite places is Southern New Hampshire.  My parents live in the Monadnock region — which is just under two hours north of the city!  There are things to do and see in NH year round – skiing and snowboarding in the winter; hiking, boating, and camping in the summer.  New Hampshire has it all!  I try and get to NH most weekends throughout the summer and recently enjoyed a long weekend there.  I spent my time swimming, grilling yummy food, and reading on the shores of a lake.  Another favorite weekend activity is picking lots of fresh fruit, including strawberries.  My mom likes to make jam, and she had quite the haul this year (check it out below)!  NH has lots of farm stands and places where you can pick your own fruits and veggies.

These are just some of my favorite summer activities.  The Boston area is great because there really is something to do, no matter what you prefer!  Leave a comment below about some of your favorite weekend activities.

Liz's four photos

Laurie: I am in the process of planning a big vacation to either Hawaii or Costa Rica in December.  Therefore, my time off this summer will be low key.  I plan to spend a week at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire with my husband’s family.  We have been going there for years and I always look forward to going back.  Fletcher students who are lake people should definitely try to sneak in a weekend or day trip to Lake Winnipesaukee.

Kristen: Lots of local!  Beach in Connecticut, camping in New Hampshire, and fun Boston weekends.

Christine: I was lucky enough to have spent a whole week on Cape Cod in Orleans with my fiancé’s family.  We had absolutely perfect weather and spent our days relaxing on the beach, mini golfing (I unfortunately came in last), eating ice cream, and playing tons of games.  My fiancé and I ventured over to Nantucket for the day, which was absolutely wonderful! It is like a walk back in time on the cobblestone streets and adorable old houses now filled with (overpriced) gift shops and restaurants.

I have some local weekend trips coming up, but am saving up my excitement for my first trips to Colorado and the Bahamas this fall!

Christine's Cape photos

Katherine: This summer I’m hopping up and down the East Coast, with trips to New York, Delaware, Washington, DC, and Florida (and many states in between).  It’s nothing particularly exotic — especially compared with Fletcherites’ travels abroad — but I’m going to argue that you can’t beat quality time spent with good friends!  I’m looking forward to seeing a few of my favorite bands in concert, celebrating at some weddings, and catching up with my DC family.


Second only to a good book, summer is the perfect season to catch up on films you were too busy to see over the winter or to revisit those classics you have loved for years, and yes, of course, to see the newest, biggest, most explosive blockbuster that Hollywood can produce.  Almost as eclectic as our reading choices are Admissions staff viewing choices.  From the silver screen to the TV screen, we have everything covered!

Jessica: I LOVE going to the movies, but this has been a low movie summer for me.  Instead of describing one of my film choices, I’m going to describe my theater choice.  While on Cape Cod, we’ll go to the Wellfleet Drive-In, which is a gem of a place.  If you’re on the Cape in the summer, be sure to plan a visit.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter what movie they’re showing (and they lean toward big action pictures), because the theater itself provides more than enough entertainment.

Laurie: I have not been to the movies in months!  I know, I need to get out more!  However, I recently started the Lost TV series again, now that my daughter is old enough to watch it.  I loved it the first time and it’s equally entertaining the second time around.  Now that I know the ending, it is really cool to pick up on all of the foreshadowing. 

Katherine: Frances Ha was all right, and I want to re-watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset before I see perhaps one of the most universally acclaimed recent films, Before Midnight.  But I haven’t had time.  Who has time to stay in and watch movies during the summer in Boston?

Kristen: Honestly, not a one so far, but I’m ending a several-year run of going through all of MI-5 and want to catch up on the last season of Mad Men.

Christine: I’ll admit it — I have a limited attention span when it comes to movies.  It has to be REALLY worth going to for me to sit through two hours in a cramped theatre. Luckily for me, the good folks at Showcase SuperLux solved this issue!  Only 30 minutes from Medford in Chestnut Hill is my dream viewing experience.  Leather recliners, a waiter, cold drinks, and free popcorn?  Oh yes.  So one less-than-perfect-weather Sunday, I ventured to Chestnut Hill to see the latest Hollywood goof movie — This Is The EndAnd it was hilarious!

I also plan on viewing the movie adaptations to Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone and cannot wait to see how well the film versions stack up the books.

Dan: As a fan of Guillermo del Toro, I dragged my wife to see Pacific Rim the other night (for which I will pay in the future by treating her to some screamy horrorfest, her favorite type of movie).  I think the New York Times’ characterization of it as “exuberant nonsense” is as appropriate a two-word review as I can imagine.


There is something about summer sun and books that just makes them go hand-in-hand.  This is a season full of beach weekends, relaxing trips to lakes and coasts, long stretches on airplane rides — all perfect reasons to dive into a good read.  So, you ask, what has the Admissions staff been reading this summer?  We have an eclectic collection of recommendations from mysteries to comedies, new and classic, described by the staff member who has chosen it.

Laurie: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry.  This does not qualify as beach reading, but it’s really interesting.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in medicine and history.  I borrowed it from the Tufts library and will have it back soon for anyone who wants to read it.

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – I have been meaning to read this one for a while and just picked it up at a used book store.  I only recently learned that this book was made into a movie.  I have enjoyed the book so far (I have about 25 pages left) and look forward to seeing the movie.

Kristen:  I have a fluvial theme going on: The Lower River by Paul Theroux (a Medford native) and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  I also read The Art Forger by B.A. Shaprio, which was a great (and fun!) snapshot of a famous Boston museum (The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) and the infamous 1990 art heist.

Jessica:  For my final break of the summer, I have saved This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Díaz.  I wish I had had the foresight to attend Díaz’s lecture at Tufts a few years back, because his recent public talks around town have been packed.  I’ve read excerpts of the book already, and I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Christine: At the suggestion of Dan, I have become completely hooked on all works by Boston author Dennis Lehane.  I started with arguably his most famous work, Mystic River, and couldn’t get enough of his writing style.  He really sheds light on some of the darker aspects of this city, and while his books are fiction, it does leave you wondering, “Could this have happened?” I am on my sixth Lehane work of the summer and fifth in the “series” featuring Detectives Kenzie and Gennaro.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who likes mystery, suspense, and murder all set along the charming backdrop of the city I call home.

Dan: I recently finished George Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War, recommended by one of my Fletcher professors years ago, but which I only recently managed to pick up.  It’s an impressive (and pretty unnerving) look at the astonishing amount of power that can be wielded by an individual who knows how to leverage the networks of influence and patronage in the U.S. government.

Katherine: Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough has kept me up late at night this summer.  Tough tells the story of the first years of Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.  Woven in are both heartbreaking and uplifting personal stories about the families of Harlem, along with an accessible broader look at education policy and research in the United States.  It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about the education system, poverty, and comprehensive, innovative strategies that attempt to address both.

I also just picked up Olive Kitteridge at the Goodwill in Davis Squqare (my favorite place to buy amazing $2 books!).  I’m not that far in, but I have high hopes: author Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 2008.

For a reading list that reflects the preferences of a broad spectrum of Tufts University faculty, staff, and students, check this page on the Tufts website.


Last summer at this time, we were staggering off of weeks of interviewing to fill three positions (out of a total of seven) in Admissions.  This summer we’re thrilled to have a stable cast of characters.  One of those newer staffers, Christine, suggested that we reintroduce ourselves, and that we do so by describing our summer activities.  Even better, Christine offered to do all the work.  ( 🙂 Happy blogger, me!)

So the next three posts will come from Christine, who has carefully curated each of our Admissions pals’ submissions.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.  And when you receive an email from one of us in the coming months, please feel free to offer your thoughts on our movie, book, or vacation choices.  For today, let me just recap who’s who.  We all do a bit of everything, so I will simply point out the key distinguishing features of our roles.

  • Christine Richardson — your first contact in the Admissions Office, sitting at the front desk and answering many of your phone calls and emails
  • Dan Birdsall — one of the associate directors and Admissions liaison to the LLM program (also the only one among us to have graduated from Fletcher!)
  • Katherine Sadowski — our data and systems expert, who may also be on the other end of your email exchange
  • Laurie Hurley — Admissions director (i.e., our boss) and liaison to the MA program
  • Liz Wagoner — another associate director and our social media guru
  • Kristen Zecchi — MIB admissions director who also oversees many programmatic and organizational aspects of the MIB program

Last, aside from generally doing the blogging, I’m the liaison for the PhD program.

You can use these brief descriptions as reference while you read Christine’s posts for the next three days.  Enjoy!


CIERP logo_webBlueFletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) just celebrated a birthday — its 20th!  To mark this milestone in the history of environment study at the School, CIERP compiled a list of some of the highlights of its work, which I’m featuring today.  Also of note:  The Center has a new director.  Prof. Kelly Sims Gallagher, a Fletcher alum and current member of the faculty, will lead CIERP as it enters its second 20 years.


CIERP by the Numbers

  • CIERP faculty members have published research results in more than 70 refereed journal articles, six books, 62 book chapters, and 70 research reports, conference papers, and other articles.
  • Since its inception, CIERP has raised more than $4.6 million in grant funding.
  • In 2012, five of Fletcher’s 17 graduating PhDs were IERP students.
  • Since 2002, CIERP has funded more than 65 external summer internships and provided $500,000 in tuition and living stipend support to IERP students.
  • Since 1992, CIERP has hired more than 300 research assistants and 60 teaching assistants.
  • Since 2009, CIERP has hosted four pre-doctoral fellows and eight post-doctoral research scholars — the first ever post-doctoral research fellows at Fletcher.
  • Since 2009, CIERP professors have tallied more than 90 media appearances, including interviews and numerous quotations in sources such as Bloomberg, WGBH, USA Today, PRI “The World,” and The Boston Globe, among others.
  • In the last year, CIERP has hosted 32 workshops, seminars and conferences on campus.

CIERP Highlights

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It’s May 1, the date when incoming international students submit the first round of paperwork to kick off the process to obtain a U.S. visa to study at Fletcher.  Most will work closely with Carol Murphy, our International Student Advisor.  But in the Admissions Office, we’re also fortunate that Christine came to Fletcher from a position where she was the visa expert.  So, for all our international students, here’s Christine’s explanation of the steps of this complicated process. 

You’ve been admitted and you have decided to enroll!  You are excited about starting your studies in the United States.  You are already starting looking at housing and talking with students on the Admitted Student Facebook page.  But wait!  There is one more big step that you, the international student, need to take: applying for a visa.

Some of you may be familiar with the process already and know terms like I-20, SEVIS, liquid and available funds, and I-94 card. But for those of you who are new to all of this, I am here to help!


  1. Certification of Funds:  Your first step is to complete the Certification of Funds form.  It is extremely important that you follow the directions exactly and provide all the needed materials so it does not delay the visa process.  As you already know, the form is due today, but please note that you cannot apply for a visa more than 120 days from the start of the school term.
  2. The I-20 Once your Certification of Funds has been approved, the International Student Advisor will issue the I-20.  This document will contain your SEVIS number, available funds, and school information.  You must have this with you when you attend your visa interview, when you enter the United States, and when you arrive at Fletcher.
  3. Pay the SEVIS feeThe SEVIS fee can be paid online via credit card for most countries.  There are a few restrictions, though, so if you have questions, check first with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you.  If you are traveling with dependents (spouse or children), you will NOT need to pay a SEVIS fee for them.  The fee is only for the student.
  4. Complete the DS-160 with photograph:  You will complete the form online, pay the DS-160 fee, upload a passport-sized (two inches by two inches) photograph and print the form to bring for your interview.  If you are traveling with dependents, a form and fee will needed for EACH of them.  I recommend you complete the DS-160 at least two days before your interview.
  5. Schedule an Interview: Once you have received your I-20, paid the SEVIS fee, completed the DS-160, and obtained photographs, you can schedule your interview with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy.  Most interviews can be scheduled online, however please check with your specific consulate or embassy.  Many of the consulates have a website to answer questions about how they approach the process, such as this one from the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai.
  6. Prepare for the Interview: The interview is one of the most important parts of the visa process.  The consular officer will approve or deny your visa based on your answers and preparedness during the interview. Make sure that you are prepared to answer questions like:  Why do you want to study in the United States?  Why can you not study in your home country?  What do you plan on doing after you have completed your studies? Do you have any relatives in the United States?  Where do they live?  It is important that you are honest with the officer, but you do not need to share more information than what is directly asked of you.
    • Make sure you bring to the interview:  your passport, I-20, DS-160, photographs, Certification of Funds and supporting documents, test scores, acceptance letter, and any other pertinent information.
    • Obtaining Your Visa: Once your application has been approved, the visa officer will take your passport from you so that they can put in the visa stamp.  The process varies by consulate or embassy, so make sure you ask how long it will take and how you will get your passport back.  The Department of State offers information about visa wait times by country on its website.
  7. Travel to the United States:  You are finally on board and about to touch down on U.S. soil!  On the airplane, you will fill out an I-94 card.  Don’t be fooled by its small size:  this is THE most important document to have with you.  If you lose this, it is extremely costly to replace, takes a lot of time, and can jeopardize your visa standing.  Once off the plane, you will go through immigration and customs.  An immigration officer will check your documents (make sure you pack everything listed above in the interview section in your carry-on), stamp your passport and I-94, and let you through.  Welcome!

The visa process is complicated, so make sure that you ask questions to the International Student Advisor, Carol Murphy, or the consulate/embassy. Become familiar with the Student Visas website and your consulate/embassy website.

Safe travels and we look forward to meeting you!


It’s March, and for Fletcher Admissions, March=BUSY.  We’re still reading applications (a few stragglers for the MALD and MA programs, and a new batch that arrived by the March 1 deadline for the LLM and MIB programs).  The assorted Admissions Committees are finalizing decisions as quickly as possible, leading the way for scholarship consideration.  Waitlist candidates are being identified.  All of those steps, of course, lead to the ultimate release of decisions.  And meanwhile, there’s other day-to-day work that still needs to be done (writing for the blog, for example).

The pace takes a little toll on all of us, but none so much as Laurie, the captain of the Admissions ship.  Which is why it was Laurie, rather than another Admissions team member, who told us that in the wee hours one night, she saw the numbers displayed on her digital clock as GPAs.  These imagined students improved in their academic performance from 3:00 to 3:59, but there were no GPAs of 3.6 to 3.99, jumping instead to 4:00.

This is where Admissions work drives the mind, for some of us at least.  In my case, I have my eye on April, which will be very busy, too, but a different kind of busy.  Even the prospect of variety is enough to get me through the zany month of March.


When I made my annual plea for staffers to write about their reading days, Dan jumped forward to volunteer.  Which is excellent, because Dan has an adorable dog, and reading days are always enhanced by the company of an adorable dog.  Here’s how things went last week for Dan and Murray.

There are lots of nice things about a day at home reading applications.  Sleeping in a bit on a Wednesday is a treat.  I also find it easier to focus on reading closely without the intrusion of various other projects.  And when the weather reports in New England break out the phrase “bitter cold,” you know it’s a day made for staying in.  Bring it on, applicants!

Now about that “sleeping in.”  I live farther from Fletcher than some, so getting going at 7:30 feels almost like a weekend to me, though even our dog Murray isn’t awake yet.

Without fail, my first thought upon surveying a stack of applications is “this shouldn’t take too long.”  Doesn’t look like so much, right?

A few things to keep in mind:  1. Note that my application pile is considerably larger than the ones in back, which are my wife’s high school English portfolios, still to be graded.  To be fair, she’s been working through hers for the past several days, and each represents a semester’s worth of work.  But still, my pile is bigger, so I win.  2. You may have heard elsewhere that we read every part of the application.  Seriously.  We really do.  Some files go more quickly than others; while a decision is sometimes pretty easy to determine, many times I find myself picking through an application several times, and sitting and thinking about it for a few minutes before deciding.  The point is that this stuff takes a while.

Reading Fletcher applications is fascinating and humbling.  In the first few hours of my day, I’ve “met” World Food Programme staffers, Marines with multiple overseas deployments, fair trade researchers, clean energy specialists, a couple of Peace Corps volunteers, and an engineer focusing on post-Fukushima safety regimes, and I’m sitting here in sweats and a hoodie trying to avoid paper cuts.  Time for some breakfast, I think.

Reading days are all about pacing.  I like to make a bit of a dent in the day’s task before my first reward.  On a sub-zero January day, the menu choice is a no-brainer – an egg white, veggie bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a coffee refill.  (Coffee isn’t part of the pacing/reward paradigm, if you were wondering.  It’s considered a reading day staple food, and therefore is available at all times.  This is cup #2). Applicants, I apologize for any errant grease stains I may or may not get on your files.

After another couple hours, it’s time for another break.  On these frigid days, poor Murray doesn’t get to go outside as much as he’d like (which, in a perfect world, would be always), but he still needs a stretch every now and then, and so do I.  It’s nice to take a breather, and having me energized and alert is to your benefit as an applicant.

Remember that cold I mentioned?  I wasn’t kidding.  Hard not to feel on your toes after a few minutes in this kind of weather – it’s a cold day out when even ice cream freezes.

Back at my reading station, I’m making progress.  While I read about the experiences of Supreme Court clerks, gender-based violence researchers, and youth NGO founders, Murray is hard at work on his own project: sunbathing.

I find it’s easy to lose track of time on reading days.  I can get into a groove and not realize that several hours have passed.  I don’t really notice that my pile is dwindling, until it hits me that I’m on my last application of the day.  Maybe it’s yours? 

I feel a nice sense of accomplishment, and in serious awe of our pool of candidates. Murray, on the other hand, is harder to impress. Looks like it’s time to suit up for another jaunt into the frozen outdoors.


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