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Throughout these past two academic years, you’ve been reading the stories of three students, Tatsuo, Adnan, and McKenzie.  Now it’s time for them to describe their academic pathways for us in their “annotated curriculum” posts.  The first of these is from Tatsuo, who spent three semesters at Fletcher and his fourth semester in an exchange program in Paris.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Administrative (Legal/Policy) Officer, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tokyo, Japan

Fields of Study
Law and Development
Modern Maritime Issues and American Foreign Policy (self-designed Field of Study)

Capstone Topic
“The Needed Technocratic Bureaucracy for Transport Infrastructure Development in LDCs: An Assessment of the Case of Civil Aviation Policies in Timor-Leste” (Advisor: Professor James Fry)

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Return to the Ministry as a deputy director to manage Japanese infrastructure policies, including overseas development aid projects.

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

Law and Development
Development Economics: Policy Analysis
Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies

In my first semester, I took two courses on international development studies, which was my top priority for study at Fletcher.  Additionally, I took two courses on finance and security.  These were not the focus of my professional career, but I had heard that the school has a long and deep tradition in the field of security studies and it has also developed resources for business studies.  All of these courses were good for connecting me with Fletcher’s traditional and more recently developed strengths, and it was a good foundation for me as I planned my academic life at Fletcher.

Semester Two

Global Maritime Affairs: International Trade, Security, Energy, and Environmental Issues at Sea
Science Diplomacy: Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean
The Foreign Relations of the United States Since 1917
International Investment Law
The Islamic World: Political Economy and Business Context (0.5 credit)

Based on my experiences in my first semester, I decided to make my course range broader than what I originally expected.  I had already planned to choose Law and Development as my first Field of Study, and I thought I would also have another development-related second Field.  However, I changed my mind, and decided to design my own Field of Study.  I selected from Fletcher resources linking multiple fields, including security, science, and business to form “Modern Maritime Issues and American Foreign Policy,” and I included various courses ranging from conventional diplomatic studies to emerging fields in science and business.

Summer Internship
The Asia Foundation, Timor-Leste

A second-year MALD student introduced me to the Timor-Leste office of the Asia Foundation, a global international development NGO.  The vice director of the office was also a Fletcher alumnus and he gave me an interesting opportunity to experience the realities of international development.  As I described in a previous post, I focused on policy development for the Timorese civil aviation market based on my practical experiences in Japan and academic studies at Fletcher.  It was the first time for me to live in a “least developed country” and also a great opportunity to connect practical expertise, academic theory, and the actual needs of the people in the field.

Semester Three

Grand Strategy in Diplomacy, Past and Present
Building Long-Term Relationships and Sharing Value with Stakeholders
Political Speechwriting
African Key Economic Issues
Economics and Globalization
Japanese Politics and International Relations (audit)
French A1 (audit)

In my third semester, I studied at Sciences Po in Paris through a Fletcher exchange program.  I took diplomacy and development courses similar to those that I took at Fletcher, in order to compare different perspectives and approaches.  Additionally, I learned about areas in which France leads the world, such as project management and public relations.  I enjoyed not only great French cuisine and wine, but also unique approaches that were very different from what I studied in the U.S.

Semester Four

The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise
Cross-Sector Partnerships
International Humanitarian Response (offered jointly by Tufts Friedman School and Harvard School of Public Health)
U.S.-European Relations Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall  (0.5 credit)
Cities, Infrastructures, and Politics: From Renaissance to Smart Technologies (audit at Harvard Graduate School of Design)

In my fourth and final semester, I am taking courses that I chose based only on my curiosity, because I had already taken all my required courses.  Cross-Sector Partnerships and International Humanitarian Response are practical and case-study-based courses that are good for wrapping up my study and internship experiences in the MALD program.  China’s Rise is also a very realistic security studies course, taught by Professor Yoshihara from the U.S. Naval War Collage, that can test what I learned about diplomacy and security.  I expect to acquire another European perspective from U.S.-European Relations, taught by Professor Scharioth, a former German Ambassador to the U.S.  I also wanted to extend my perspective by auditing a Harvard Graduate School of Design course that introduces the views of designers and architects.

When I am back with the Japanese Government, many and various tasks are waiting for me, from economics to security to East Asian security crises to preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  I am very excited to tackle these issues by using the skills and experiences that I acquired in my two years at Fletcher.  It will be very interesting and exciting.  At the same time, however, I wish I had one more year, or at least one more semester, at Fletcher.

It’s Marathon Monday!  Or, more officially, Patriots’ Day, when the Boston Marathon is run.  For many years now, the University has been represented by the Tufts Marathon Team, generally including one or more Fletcher students.  This year, John Bidwell, a second-year MALD student will be running.  I hope a photo will pass my way.

While I’m waiting for 2017 Marathon pix, I’ll share this lovely photo of Moni and Niko, 2016 graduates and two-year friends of Admissions, when they met up at the finish line.  Moni sent the photo along, noting, “We were the only two from Fletcher who ran it, and frankly, it would not have been possible without the support of everyone at the School (friends, faculty, staff, deans, everyone).  Truly a Fletcher family to us.”

Photo credit: Ian MacLellan for Tufts University

Many members of the Fletcher community will be watching the Marathon or even volunteering at race stations.  It’s a real event in the city.

On a business note, please note that the University is closed today.  We’ll be back tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

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I’ve got some more Annual Reports, to add to last week’s post about the Fletcher Social Investment Group!  This collection of only four reports provides a nice sense of the scope of student activities — from the opportunity to sing with a band, to formal conferences, to new student-developed initiatives.

Fletcher Africana Conversation Series

During the Spring 2017 semester, a team of students launched a new initiative called the “Fletcher Africana Conversation Series.”  The series, entitled Securing Africa’s Future, addresses unconventional security issues faced by Africa, including those arising from threats to cross-border security and a shift in the continent’s economic trajectory.  The primary goal of the series is to explore whether the continent has an opportunity to realize a new paradigm for its growth and prosperity in the coming years.  For each event, the team invites a group of experts, practitioners, and professionals to The Fletcher School to participate and lead the conversation.  This new initiative, designed to maximize audience participation and to integrate the wider Tufts University community, has been supported by Tisch College, the World Peace Foundation, the Institute for Global Leadership, and the Tufts University Africana Center.  It is an offshoot/affiliate of the Fletcher Africana Club, and a legacy of the former Africana Conference.  The goal is to provide regular Africana programming beyond the options in the curriculum for students who are interested.

Fletcher Arctic Conference

The sixth annual Fletcher Arctic Conference, hosted on February 17 and 18, focused on sustainable development in the high north and continued The Fletcher School’s tradition of convening diplomats, politicians, business people, academics and students to discuss pressing challenges and emerging opportunities facing the Arctic region.

The Arctic is increasingly attracting international attention and investments as climate change makes resources more accessible and Arctic maritime transportation a reality.  The dynamics of globalization have fundamentally transformed the lifestyles of the Arctic’s 4 million inhabitants.  This year, the Fletcher Arctic Initiative decided to explore potential pathways for prosperous and healthy livelihoods in the region.

The conference drew over 200 attendees and topics covered included Climate Change Mitigation, Resilience and Adaptation; Exercising Leadership in a Globalizing North; and Innovation for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Participants heard from expert speakers, including Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the largest Inuit association in Canada; Daley Sambo Dorough, F91, Vice Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Ambassador David Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries and the Senior U.S. Arctic Official.

Besides the more than 30 experts convened at the conference, attendees also had the chance to hear from four Fletcher graduate researchers on the Early Career Scholars Panel.  Last year’s conference chair, Molly Douglas, F16, presented on coordination of economic development activities in the Arctic for sustainability and Matt Merighi, F16, CEO of BlueWater Metrics and Assistant Director of the Fletcher Maritime Studies Program, presented on the challenges and opportunities for ocean data collection.  In addition, MIB candidate Nathan Cohen-Fournier, F17, co-chair of the Fletcher Arctic Initiative, presented his recently completed study on Entrepreneurship in Inuit communities of Northern Québec.  Finally, Max McGrath-Horn, F17, co-chair of the Fletcher Arctic Initiative, presented his forthcoming paper in Polar Geography comparing governance mechanisms in the Arctic and Amazon basins.

Fletcher Arctic VI continued a tradition of convening the brightest minds on Arctic issues to present and discuss opportunities and challenges facing the region.  As the region continues to develop, more attention will be needed from policy makers, diplomats and academics.  The Fletcher School is preparing its students to face these coming challenges, and will build on the momentum generated by this year’s conference.

Humanitarian Action Society

The Humanitarian Action Society (HAS) provides a network and forum for students interested in humanitarian affairs to explore these issues through discussions with experts in the field, skill-building opportunities, and networking with other students.  The group serves as a platform to discuss current issues in the humanitarian space, as a link to external resources, and as a network though which students can explore career opportunities.

This year, HAS prioritized strengthening its relationships with the Friedman School of Nutrition and Science Policy and the Feinstein International Center, and coordinated with both institutions to ensure our members are welcome at events organized across campuses.  We hosted talks with experts in the field on the ethics of humanitarianism and the securitization of humanitarian assistance, and organized skill building workshops on conflict sensitive interviewing and IRB applications for research proposals in complex settings.  We also annually coordinate student participation in the humanitarian simulation for Professor Maxwell’s “International Humanitarian Response” course.  During the D.C. Career Trip, HAS works with other student groups to coordinate a happy hour for current students and alums focused on humanitarian work, human rights issues, and migration.  The club has also organized tailored site visits for students interested in particular humanitarian organizations.

This semester HAS  began a series of student forums — lunchtime discussions tapping into the expertise of our peers and their experiences in the humanitarian space prior to coming to Fletcher.  The forums have been successful and showcase the knowledge and expertise of our fellow classmates, as well as open opportunities to discuss diverse issues like sexual- and gender-based violence in humanitarian settings and refugee resettlement policies.  HAS looks forward to continuing the exchange of ideas among our own students, as well as with groups from Friedman and Feinstein, and offering more skill building exercises next year!

The Los Fletcheros

The Los Fletcheros, a Fletcher institution and student-run cover band, perform roughly six face-melting shows per year.  Ranging from seven to 15 members, and playing diverse tunes ranging from the Beatles to Sia, the band auditions musicians every fall, and rehearse once a week throughout the year.  Supportive classmates attend (at minimum) Halloween, Holiday, and Ski-Trip shows, dancing (in-time when possible) their hearts out to the music.  Whether you’re a marvelous musician or a dazzling dancer, attending the Los Fletcheros shows always promises to be a rip-roarin’ good time.

This has been an exciting week for Fletcher entrepreneurs and competitors.  Participation in business competitions, both in our local area and beyond, has been an increasingly common aspect of the graduate school experience for many Fletcher students, and 2017 brought some noteworthy successes.  Here’s a run-down of the wins that students have achieved after a year of preparation for end-of-year competitions.

First, in Tufts University’s own $100K New Ventures Competition, Peter Sacco, F17 has taken first place in the $50K Social Impact track for Adelante Shoes, winning $16K in cash and the remainder coming from in-kind services.  Adelante is also a 2016 Ideas Competition winner.  Peter has pioneered a new Living Well social impact model right here at Fletcher.

Even more locally, Meghan Li, F18, is the 2017 Fletcher D-Prize winner for her fintech nonprofit ComeonGirls, and she has won $10K plus in-kind mentoring and support worth up to $20K to spend the summer “interning” with her start up.  She will be piloting her scholarship platform on WeChat, matching donors in China with deserving girls in rural Western China.

And, shifting back to the Tufts $100K, Daphne Warlamis, F17 and her team at Lithio Storage took third place in the General/High Tech Ventures track.

Finally, exciting news for a Fletcher team that has taken second place in the in the highly selective, international MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) Competition at the Wharton School.  The Fletcher team beat out top MBA programs such as NYU-Stern, Columbia, and Dartmouth-Tuck to receive up to $25K for their agtech startup.  The Fletcher team members, all due to graduate in May 2017, are McKenzie Smith, Michael Cretz, Mayu Tanaka, Alex Chamberlin, and Ashraya Dixit.  That’s McKenzie, our student blogger!

This is quite a testament to the growing focus on entrepreneurship here at Fletcher!  Congratulations to all the Fletcher entrepreneurs and competitors.

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Thanks to a group of student-leaders, this week at Fletcher is Leadership Week, featuring daily activities that all link to the leadership theme.  Here’s what the line-up of early evening activities will bring us.

Monday, April 10
Public speaking and presentation workshop, led by two Fletcher students.

Tuesday, April 11
Panel discussion featuring diplomatic, military, private, and nonprofit perspectives on leadership within and across those sectors.  Panelists include Fletcher’s State Department fellow, a military fellow with the International Security Studies Program, a leader of the Fletcher Consulting Group, and other students.

Wednesday, April 12
Leadership workshop with Professor Alnoor Ebrahim.

Thursday, April 13

Presentation and discussion of The Leader’s Bookshelf by Dean Stavridis, hosted by Ginn Library, followed by a reception sponsored by the dean’s office.

As preparation for the sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday, take a look at this video, in which Professor Ebrahim interviews Dean Stavridis.

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One of the questions we hear most often at this time of year asks whether students often work on campus and, if so, how they find their jobs.  That makes this the perfect opportunity to introduce “Q&A with Cindy” — a new occasional feature in which our Graduate Assistant Cindy will answer some of the questions popping up most often in the Fletcher Admissions inbox.  Obviously, Cindy has found herself a job, so let’s have her describe the process.

Even before submitting my application to Fletcher, I was already thinking about how I would support myself while in graduate school.  The reality of a Fletcher education is that the tuition and average housing cost you will pay is expensive, but I like to consider it an investment in my future career and professional network.  That being said, I started researching right away how to obtain a job either on or off campus.

The JobX website became my best friend the summer before coming to Fletcher, when I was already living in the area after completing my work as a teacher.  This website is run by Tufts University and utilized by both employers to post jobs and students to explore what opportunities are available.  If you click on “Students” then “Find a Job,” it takes you to a page where you can filter for both on- and off-campus jobs and also whether the job is “work study.”*  I was able to get in touch with several employers through this website to obtain more information about positions.  I looked at jobs within the Study Abroad Office, Tufts Student Services, The Tisch College of Civic Life, and various undergraduate departments.  I was lucky to obtain a summer job before starting at Fletcher, which gave me extra money for living expenses.

My second best friend (or enemy, depending on how many messages I received each day) was my email inbox.  At the beginning of my first semester, I was inundated with emails about student organizations, events at Fletcher, classes being offered, and, luckily, available jobs at Fletcher.  After sorting through what was important and what was not, I came across an email from the Fletcher Office of Admissions about an open position.  One thing led to another, and I am now happily working as a Graduate Assistant with the Admissions Team.

Aside from my particular job, there are other types of employment available to students.  You can reach out to professors who teach at Fletcher or at the undergraduate level who may be looking for teaching or research assistants.  There are also tutoring positions, sometimes available through the Fletcher Graduate Writing Center.  For those of you who are comfortable with the dorm lifestyle, you can look into becoming a Graduate Residence Director.  Of course, there is always the option of doing your own off-campus hunt for retail, food service, or other jobs that fit your weekly schedule.

One thing to keep in mind is that whatever job you take will mostly help to cover your living expenses.  Realistically, your job earnings will not contribute much towards chipping away at your tuition.  Despite this, I hope some of the job information provided above has been helpful to you.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

*Note that people use the phrase “work study” in two ways.  One is simply to refer to a job that fits a student schedule.  The other is an official program for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  Some offices will only hire students who have the official “work study” funding, though many will not impose that restriction.

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In a now yearly blog tradition, I’ve reached out to student organization leaders and members and asked them to provide an “Annual Report” for their group.  I look forward to sharing details on the amazing work (or fun) that these groups have been doing in their “free time” throughout the year.  With thanks to the FSIG team, here is the first of the reports.

Fletcher Social Investment Group

Passionate about impact investing or social enterprises and keen to explore these fields further at Fletcher?  The Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG) is a student-run organization dedicated to the study and practice of impact investing, as well as the development of the next generation of leaders in social investment.  To accomplish these goals, FSIG facilitates opportunities for Fletcher students across three core areas: advisory services to social enterprises, investment analysis and due diligence for angel investors, and research and education on impact investing.

Over the past academic year, FSIG members took on nine client-facing advisory projects, focused on domestic and foreign market entry strategies, business model design for new customer segments, and pre-fundraising valuation support.  Within due diligence, FSIG teams provided support in the form of deal assessment and sector-specific research to Investor’s Collaborative, a network of angel investors in the Boston area, and Kiva, a crowdlending platform that recently started lending directly to social enterprises.  Combined, FSIG’s Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 advisory and due diligence services are worth more than $50,000 in pro-bono support.

Five FSIG members continue to compete in the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) competition, through which they have been able to step into the shoes of an impact investor and develop a thesis, source, screen, diligence, and ultimately pitch a social enterprise at the competition.  This month, our team will travel to the Wharton School to pitch their company against those of 24 other top business and graduate schools.  We wish our team luck at the competition and hope they’ll bring home the top prize — $50,000 investment in the company they pitch!

For members who cannot commit to a client-facing project, FSIG also holds a number of events throughout the semester.  In 2016-2017, these included a special leadership workshop for our team leads, taught by Professor Alnoor Ebrahim, a skill-based session on valuing early-stage start-ups taught by Professor Pat Schena, and a video conference on the topic of raising capital from the perspective of social entrepreneurs.

The 2016-2017 academic year also saw FSIG further its commitment to facilitating career opportunities in impact investing and social enterprises through a Boston Career Trek, held in partnership with peer organizations at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan.

We can’t wait to hear about you and your passion for social enterprises and/or impact investing!  Drop us an email or visit our website for further information!

Our student blogger Mariya has inspired a special project at the Ginn Library, and today she tells how the “Wish Tree” came about.

“This outward spring and garden are a reflection of the inward garden,” writes Rumi, my favorite poet.  Jalaluddin Rumi — for those of you who don’t know — was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic.  I love his poetry because his metaphors are so powerful, and I constantly find ways that his words relate to my own life experiences.

Spring break was quite rejuvenating.  Unfortunately the Fletcher Pakistan Trek did not work out, so instead I went home to Alexandria, VA.  I soaked in the sunshine during the annual Washington, DC cherry blossom festival, drank lots of Pakistani chai and Kashmiri kahwa, and ate a ton of my mom’s delicious homemade foods.  The nourishment was much needed, as it brought back to life my exhausted soul.  My “inward garden” is now full of excitement for the second half of this semester, prayers for my final exams and projects, and well wishes for my peers who are graduating in May.

When I arrived back on campus last Monday, I smiled ear to ear when I noticed — quite literally! — an “inward” tree blossoming near the Ginn Library’s main entrance.  This wasn’t just any tree, however.  Instead of cherry blossoms or flower buds, strips of pure white, pastel green, and soft peach cotton pieces hung from its branches.

I knew what this was: it was a “Wish Tree.”

Let me back up and tell you a little about how this tree came about.  Over winter break, Ginn Library solicited photographs from students, staff, and faculty for their Perspectives Gallery, an exhibit that “highlights world cultures with the hope of promoting understanding and tolerance.”  I submitted a few shots from my time in Turkey, and much to my surprise, two of my photographs were selected for the galleryOne of these photos depicted an unusual tree that, when I first saw it, gave me a weird sense of déjà vu, but moments later, took me down memory lane.

The tree reminded me of driving up the curvy, dirt road towards our home in a mountainous village in northwestern Pakistan, when we would always pass by a tree, outside of a cemetery, draped in colorful scraps of cloth.  When I would wander the road on my own, this tree served as a familiar landmark that I was close to home.  During these excursions, I always wondered why people forgot to pick up their laundry from the tree.

On a visit to Pakistan in summer 2011, I finally asked my father why people tied cloths to this tree and left them there.  He explained that the cloths were a physical representation of prayers or wishes that people were asking God, and because trees are sacred creations and symbols of life, people hoped to connect with God through nature.  Often the prayer or wish is related to health or fertility, but it could also be a request for help, guidance, repentance, strength, or hope.

When I stumbled upon the “Wish Tree” during my travels in Cappadocia, Turkey last year, I was reminded of my father’s words.  But unlike the tree from my childhood, this tree had noticeably more white cloths than colorful strips, and instead of being next to a cemetery, it rested next to a rack of broken pottery.  In Islam, white symbolizes purity and peace, and is the color that is worn at funerals.  I was captivated by the irony of this scene — the colorful pottery hanging by a dried up riverbed, horses roaming in search of grass or water, deserted caves longing for their inhabitants and worshipers; yet the living tree reaching toward heaven in the clear blue skies, its branches heavy with wishes, dreams, and hopes of people from around the world.  I would never have realized at first glance that this abandoned scene was home to such a beautiful spiritual life.

Tying cloths to trees is an ancient tradition that is actually quite common across many cultures around the world.  The ritual is practiced by the Irish, Scottish, Thai, Chinese, Tibetans, and even Native Americans, to name a few.

When I shared this story with library staff members Cynthia Rubino and Anulfo Baez, they were inspired to bring the Wish Tree to Fletcher.  Thanks to their creativity and efforts, anyone who walks through the Ginn Library can now jot down wishes and hang them on the tree.  I invite all visitors to Fletcher this spring to stop by Ginn, grab a black Sharpie and a piece of cloth from the basket, and make a wish.  And because you’ll be in the library, here’s a reminder from Rumi: “Raise your words, not voice.  It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

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This year, several offices at Fletcher worked together to create a single resource for “Support for Experiential Learning.”  The resulting webpage serves as a clearinghouse of grant and fellowship opportunities offered to current Fletcher students by research centers and administrative offices to support independent research, conference participation and attendance, and other professional development opportunities.  These grant funds are separate from summer internship funds that are offered by the Office of Career Services (and generally won’t be used to support summer internships).

Along with the information resource came a new financial resource: The Fletcher Educational Enrichment Fund, administered by the Admissions Office, which provides grants of up to $3,000 to pursue research, scholarly or professional events, and other similar activities throughout the academic year.  Other experiential learning resources currently offered are:

  • The IBGC Student Research Fund, which provides up to $2,000 to support travel and research directly relevant to international business, inclusive growth, and emerging market enterprises.
  • CIERP Travel Grants, which award travel fellowships (maximum $1,000 in an academic year) for students working with the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy to conduct research, travel, or attend relevant conferences.
  • The Feinstein International Center awards summer research grants of up to $3,000 for overseas positions and up to $2,000 for U.S.-based positions related to complex emergencies, humanitarian assistance, refugees and migrants, natural disasters, and food security issues.
  • The Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs provides summer research grant funding.  Projects must have some technology component and be for a capstone or dissertation.
  • The IHS Fellowship supports Institute for Human Security doctoral students with grants and fellowships up to $15,000.
  • The ISSP Sarah Scaife Foundation, administered by the International Security Studies Program, provides tuition assistance and research support to MALD and PhD students.

Together, these funding sources make it realistic for students to pursue learning opportunities they might otherwise need to forego and further expand the definition of a Fletcher education.

 

Most winters in the Boston area include a mix of cold and mild days.  That doesn’t mean that a little adjustment isn’t necessary, especially for folks from tropical climates.  Student blogger Adi made such a climate adjustment this year.

From the moment I received my Fletcher admission letter, people have been warning me about winter in the Northeast region.  Most people like to specifically point out “the winter of 2015,” which apparently was the worst the state had seen in years.  So I started my Fletcher journey curious, trying to understand how bad it could be exactly, but also quite nervous, considering I come from Indonesia, a tropical country.  (The only snow we see is in Hollywood movies.)  Even when I lived in Seattle as an undergraduate, snow was not a big concern.  I remember back in my sophomore year, we had two inches of snow and the university declared a snow day.  That’s how much we didn’t get snow in Seattle.

My wife had already been in Boston for six months when I arrived.  She flew into the city during the winter (January to be exact), so she had quite the shock adjusting from Indonesia’s heat to Boston’s snow.  Thus, she was the one constantly reminding me to buy the right jacket and snow boots to be sure I would survive my daily commute from Boston to Medford.  This semester, Fletcher had two snow days due to storms in the Northeast region.  With this amount of snow, Seattle would have had more than a month worth of snow days.  Now we’re at the end of March, when people say, “Winter is over and spring is arriving.”

The Innovate Tufts: Fletcher Disrupts organizing committee.

I had one conference that was held while a mini blizzard was happening outside.  (Luckily everyone made it to and from the conference safely.)  This was a conference I was organizing with a couple of classmates called “Innovate Tufts: Fletcher Disrupts,” and it involved participants from other schools, including Boston University, MIT, and Harvard, as well as professionals from the Boston, DC, and NY areas.  We had some contingency planning to do as we sweated over the possibility that one of our conference days would have to be rescheduled or cancelled due to the snow storm.  Luckily, everything went according to plan.  I am quite proud that none of the speakers cancelled due to the weather, and all-in-all we executed a successful conference amid the “nor’easter” storm.

There were, of course, other stories about how this weather impacted my daily activities as a Fletcher grad student.  I slipped once on my way to campus from the Davis T (subway) station.  In fact, that whole journey from Davis to Fletcher was made more interesting by the icy roads.  What would usually take me no more than 15 minutes ended up being close to half an hour, as I powered through to get to class (thankful that I decided to leave home early that day).  But all in all, I would say that my first winter in Massachusetts was not as bad as people warned me it would be, and it was actually quite enjoyable.  The snow days gave me extra time to catch up with readings and schoolwork that were starting to pile up.  The air felt fresh on my walk to campus.  And you really had to enjoy the beautiful places around the Fletcher/Tufts campus that emerged after the snow covered the ground.  My wife and I found some great spots to take pictures with all the snow.

In terms of how the climate affected my grad-school flow, I would say it did not affect me as much as I thought it would.  Throughout the winter, classes still happened as scheduled, and professors didn’t let us off the hook for late assignments just because of a little snow.  I did need to adjust to the early sunset, as opposed to during my pre-session course in the summer when I was able to get drinks with classmates after my 5:00 p.m. class and the sun was still there.  But other than that, winter didn’t get in my way.

Though my first winter was quite pleasant, I’m still glad that spring is arriving now, which means fewer layers of jackets.  Next year’s winter could be worse, could be better, or it could be the same.  Either way, I would say I mastered enough of the learning curve to adapt my activities to winter in the Northeast.

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