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Just a quick note today, lest you think I am still off celebrating Thanksgiving. In fact, yesterday was completely gobbled up by two PhD interviews, two interview reports, an information session, and reading a small pile of files that I just didn’t manage to get to over the weekend. Today I’m catching up from yesterday, as it often goes. That makes it a good time to share the latest update from our friends at The Fletcher Forum. Here’s the email that went out to the community just before the break.
Dear Fletcher Friends, Colleagues, Staff, Faculty, and Alumni,
The Fletcher Forum Online — the online portal of The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the school’s student-run international affairs journal — has had an exciting semester thus far, as we have brought in new staff and released our Special 80th Anniversary Edition. We invite you to visit our website to read some of our content and to consider submitting your own article for publication!
Some of our fall interview highlights include:
A conversation with the Dean of The Fletcher School, Admiral James Stavridis.
Dean Stavridis discusses the future of diplomacy and twenty-first century security, and provides shrewd advice to young professionals pursuing careers that navigate the challenges of today’s globalized world.
A conversation with former Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas, Jr.
Ambassador Thomas discusses his distinguished career in the Foreign Service and comments on a range of foreign policy issues from the role of diplomacy in solving global problems to advancing the rights of women and girls to the ongoing disaster relief efforts in the Philippines.
Our fall op-eds have ranged in topic from human rights in the Middle East to international law in Africa to democratic governance in Latin America. Check out some of these highlights:
Pakistan is Giving Democracy a Chance, by Wilson Lee
Learning the Right Lessons from Iraq, by Patricia Stottlemyer
Managing Crisis in South Asia: Avoiding Armageddon Again, by Bruce Riedel
ICC Prosecutions in Africa Underscore Need for Effective Regional Institutions, by Kamissa Camara
The Case for Treating Migration as Trade, by Amien Kacou
The Need for an International Solution to Illicit Financial Flows, by Rohit Sinha
Diplomacy Bridging the U.S-Iranian Divide, by Arafat Kabir
Bringing Human Rights through the Back Door at the European Union, by David Blázquez
Reforming Brazil’s “Violent Democracy”, by Jim Shyne
Please feel free to leave comments or submit your own piece for publication.
The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs Online
Tagged with: Fletcher Forum
Informative notes on a variety of topics have flowed into my inbox lately. I’m going to combine them all in this pre-Thanksgiving catch-up blog.
Newly selected Al Nakhlah editors (and first-year MALD students) Alex Taylor and Jack Berger interviewed Rami Khouri, Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He discusses the emergence of a new conception of citizenship in the Arab world.
Fletcher alum and contributing Admissions Blogger Manjula Dissanayake sent me an update this morning. Both Manjula and Educate Lanka have had great success this year!
Current MALD student Kat Trujillo was just selected by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance for the 2015 class of George J. Mitchell Scholars. Congratulations to Kat!
In October, a Fletcher alum, Mulatu Teshome, was selected as the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Finally, unrelated to any of the above, a note from me: I have received some good suggestions for blogs for the coming months, but I’m open to more! Please be sure to complete the survey and send me your ideas.
Many Fletcher student clubs and organizations are designed purely with fun in mind. Case in point: Fermentation 101. But most students will also connect with an organization that links to their academic interests. Today, second-year MALD student, Dara, tells us about her work with an activity that goes beyond the walls of Fletcher.
Like many volunteers, I became involved with the Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP) in my first year at Fletcher because of my general interest in refugee issues. TU-RAP pairs newly arrived refugee families in the Boston area with groups of Tufts University students. The students visit the families’ homes regularly to lend a hand with anything the family members may need to orient themselves to life in the United States. I learned that this may include assisting with bill paying, helping children with homework, practicing English, or teaching the family how to use public transportation.
Aware that refugees can experience a great deal of difficulty assimilating into a new life and culture, I was really excited to join the program as a volunteer. My group was paired with a small family from Chad: a father (Caleb), mother, and a newly born, beautiful little girl. While the family spoke very little English, luckily two members of the volunteer group spoke moderate French. After being cut off from the support of their resettlement agency, and with the father unable to work due to a medical condition, the family was having a hard time meeting their basic needs. Fortunately, they received government food assistance and were permitted to stay free of charge in an apartment. All other material necessities such as diapers and transportation fees were hard to obtain, though.
Despite their difficulties, the family did the utmost to welcome us into their home. Each time we visited, we were provided with fresh fruit, soda and water. While there was not much we could do to help Caleb find a job, because of his condition, we did what we could. We practiced English with the family, helped them sort through mail, and brought over a French driving manual in preparation for Caleb’s road test. Once, we even helped to read and translate documents to enroll the family in health insurance. Completing the enrollment paperwork took the entire visit, but it was very rewarding to be able to help with something they needed so much.
While I’m sure our assistance really benefited the family, I think we as volunteers gained the most from the experience. Having a close-up look at the difficulties refugees face gave us an awareness of the gravity of the problem, and helped us to appreciate the conveniences of our own lives. What really affected me was how this family — completely uprooted from their country, isolated from their relatives, and placed in a foreign country where they neither speak the language nor know the culture — remains positive. Until this day, I speak often to my Chadian family and am happy to know that they consider me a friend. For me, TU-RAP has been a life changing experience. For that reason, I joined TU-RAP leadership this year to ensure that more students and refugees in need benefit from this program.
Tagged with: Outside the classroom
My second-year student bloggers are busy people. We last heard from Mirza in the summer, when he reported on his internship. Today’s post will give readers a very good sense of why this is the first time we’re hearing from him since classes began this semester.
After some months of silence, I am happy to be writing again for the Admissions Blog. My silence has been rooted in several factors: 1) Dealing with a busy academic schedule (nothing new at Fletcher); 2) Balancing a couple of paid job positions with my academic schedule; and 3) Attempting to be a responsible second-year student and remain fully engaged in the Fletcher community. The first two months of my second year indeed proved to be quite chaotic, but I would describe this as controlled and happy chaos. For me at least, the self-awareness that I am successfully managing my own Fletcher chaos seems to be the biggest difference between the two years thus far.
One striking change that I’m noticing as a second-year student is that I feel significantly more grounded as a member of the Fletcher community than I did last year. I have come to understand more clearly who I am at Fletcher; what Fletcher and the people here can offer me and what I can offer them; when to say yes and when to say no to various events and social activities; how to assess my personal opportunity costs (chatting with a friend in the Hall of Flags for 15 minutes or spending those 15 minutes answering emails — the former increasingly taking precedence over the latter); and how to take advantage of this special time in my life to the fullest extent possible. Having spent the summer back in the working world, this last point has been especially resonant.
This is not to say that the first year at Fletcher is less meaningful, but simply that by the time the second year rolls around, one is likely to have gained a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of this rich community. One will also have figured out how to perform most effectively and efficiently in the general chaos that is graduate school. For me, this meant becoming more strategic with my time. While I have four paid jobs this semester, they each play an important role in enhancing my résumé with relevant skills. A good amount of my work responsibilities have also directly complemented my academic coursework, thus bringing my overall learning into a cohesive whole. For example, as an Academic Technology Fellow at Tufts University’s Educational and Scholarly Technology Services, I have been exposed to numerous web-based learning platforms and tools that have nicely complemented my coursework in a Harvard Education School course on education and technology. My role as Business Director for The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, on the other hand, has provided me with an opportunity to put into practice some of the skills acquired in my marketing and entrepreneurship courses at Fletcher. Together, these connected experiences will allow me to tell a rounded story in my cover letter and résumé when it is time to jump into the post-Fletcher job hunt.
I have also really embraced what most Fletcher students would identify as the essential component of the Fletcher experience: our lively and passionate community. So, besides academic and work obligations, I have tried to stay very active in Fletcher’s social life. Whether supporting the Los Fletcheros on Thursday nights at Johnny D’s in Davis Square, attending events organized by the many Fletcher student groups (recent highlight: a lecture titled “Do Human Rights Matter?”), driving to Cape Cod with my classmates for Prof. Hess’s annual barbeque picnic, engaging in (somewhat) heated debates on the Social List, group-biking from Fletcher to Harvard, or offering to be a second-year buddy to a first-year student, I have become truly connected to and inspired by the multifaceted world of Fletcher. Many of the people I have met here over the last year will undoubtedly play an important role in my post-graduation life, and these tight-knit social networks — strengthened through shared experiences in and outside of classroom — are what make Fletcher such a unique place. Understanding how to balance this cornerstone of the Fletcher experience with my academic, work, and personal responsibilities has been an important accomplishment for me in my second year of graduate school, and has accordingly led to the aforementioned comfort of a “controlled and happy chaos.”
With apologies for taking so long to put this together, please meet the remaining three of our Admissions student interns, who work alongside Daniel, Emma, and Rebekah.
Ayako: I am a second-year MALD student from Tokyo, Japan. I’m a “career-changer” at Fletcher; my Fields of Studies are International Political Economy and Human Security. I studied economics and music at Wellesley College for my undergraduate, and then worked for four years at Morgan Stanley’s equity research division covering Japanese financial institutions. I spent the past summer in Lahore and Islamabad, Pakistan, working for Aghaaz Leadership Labs, an NGO based in Pakistan. I interviewed entrepreneurs (with more focus on female entrepreneurs) to explore the opportunities and constraints that they face in Pakistan, in order to draft an analysis report.
Having only one more year at Fletcher, I’m trying to make the most out of the opportunity here — auditing classes, attending on and off-campus lectures and events, taking advantage of Boston’s finest art scene (Boston Symphony Orchestra, Museum of Fine Arts and many others!). I’m excited to be working here to answer any questions or concerns that you may have!
Juanita: Hi everyone! I am a second-year MALD studying international business and international negotiation. My interest in international business stems from my experience as a student strategy consultant for a Field Studies in Global Consulting course that I completed during my first year of study at Fletcher. During this course, my teammates and I were able to gain real-world experience as we developed an international partnership engagement strategy for our client. This experience not only allowed me to develop invaluable skills that I will surely use long after I leave Fletcher, but it also allowed me to refocus my coursework and internship experiences as I prepared for my second year, and my career after Fletcher.
While my future aspirations of working at the nexus of international business strategy and strategic partnerships differ from my pre-Fletcher experiences, the Fletcher School has served as an incubator by providing me with exposure to this industry through my classmates, courses, and career services. I look forward to helping you all navigate the admissions process, and answering any questions that you may have about being a “career changer” at the Fletcher School!
Kiyomi: Hello there! I am a first-year MIB student focusing in Strategic Management and International Consultancy and am interested in understanding market-based approaches to social change.
Like many Fletcher students, its not so easy to say where I’m “from.” I grew up in both LA and the Boston area then attended the University of Miami, where I received a degree in communications. After college I worked in consumer banking and private wealth management in the Boston and the Bay areas before leaving corporate America behind to spend time in Latin America.
Immediately before Fletcher I was implementing micro-credit programs as a Kiva Fellow in Mexico and Colombia, and worked with a social start-up in Medellin developing social impact bond initiatives in Latin America.
Outside of my busy school schedule and time as an Admissions Intern, I am a member of the Fletcher Fútbol team and Fletcher Net Impact. For fun I am always looking for more soccer games to play, trying to catch a Football game (Go Pats!), and of course hanging with my wonderful and amazing classmates.
Returning to the second-year student bloggers, we pick up Scott’s story as he considers the post-Fletcher future that awaits him after graduation next May. As you’ll read, to Scott’s surprise, the learning and exposure he gained at Fletcher have caused him to reconsider his planned career path.
It’s interesting being a graduate student (and the ripe age of 32) and confused about the type of work I want to do after Fletcher. I came in with a very set plan: to use the Master of International Business (MIB) program to transition from the global health sector to the field of international economic development, by filling gaps resulting from my lack of work in the private sector. I was focused on international organizations, such as the World Bank, or consulting firms that would value my non-profit work and mindset but would also (thanks to the MIB program) be confident in my abilities to understand financial markets.
Fletcher offered me the chance to meet and listen to many individuals who worked at the organizations I had originally targeted. Unfortunately, around February of last year, after multiple career panels, information sessions, and my own research, I started to question whether this career track would be the right fit for me. At the same time, I was enjoying all my business courses and dissecting cases — especially within the areas of strategy and business development.
Coming to this realization in February/March was a problem because I had to completely switch my internship search, and by the time I did, most of the internships I had pinpointed were already filled. I made the best of this situation by taking a position in May that was similar to my previous work (but was salary based — always a good thing) and then took the remainder of the summer to do something very exciting. I used the time to cycle across the US — from the west coast of Oregon to New York City — raising funds for the charity run by one of my best friends from college, the Ace in the Hole Foundation. (If interested in that journey, you can read about it here.) It was the experience of a lifetime, but it didn’t boost my future job search the way a summer internship could have.
Which leads me to where I am in the first semester of my second year at Fletcher. I have decided to cast a wide net and to try to meet with as many people as possible this fall, to help focus my job search, which should start this winter. I have learned a lot already, namely that I’d love to focus on technology, health/wellness, and, if possible, to work at a start up or even start a venture of my own. My current classes — Starting New Ventures, at Fletcher, and Strategy and Technology, at Harvard Business School — definitely have had an influence on my current thinking, but I’m also continuing to speak with individuals outside of that realm. Making up for lost time last summer, I also have an internship in downtown Boston at a hybrid venture capital and creative agency, which has given me exposure to multiple industries that could interest me.
With these commitments, and a couple more classes, I have found myself busy. It’s a different kind of busy than my first year, when most of my time went into tough, but great, classes. As a second-year MIB student, I have completed the program’s core courses and I have the flexibility to choose classes that allow me explore new avenues. I’m actually excited for the whole process, even if it will be a challenge.
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!
Allow me to introduce Diane, the next of our new student bloggers, who joins Liam, Scott, Roxanne, and Mirza on the team. Today Diane will tell us how she made the decision to pursue graduate studies at Fletcher, where her Fields of Study are Development Economics and Humanitarian Affairs.
I thought I would introduce myself by telling you about my experiences prior to Fletcher, as well as how I ended up here, at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I worked for a time in the East Asia unit of the Oxfam Australia Head Office in Melbourne. In 2012 I left Oxfam and moved to New York to intern in the policy section of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), working on food security research and resilience policy. I had previously interned with the United Nations World Food Programme in Nepal, during the 2008 food crisis, and was keen to gain more varied experience.
It was at my first job that I realized the importance of technical, management, and leadership skills in the workplace. While I had spent my undergraduate degree learning about the theory of the development field, once in the workplace I recognized the difference between great managers and leaders and mediocre ones, and realized that if I wanted a long career where I would be able to make an impact and add value to the organization I work for, I needed to go back to school and learn these skills. I started researching the type of programs that would satisfy both my interests and my aims for further study, and began to look out of Australia for this.
In truth, my journey to Fletcher began just over a year ago. While I was based in New York with the UN, I took the opportunity to explore different schools and programs in the U.S. A colleague at OCHA noticed the GRE books on my desk and offered to discuss various professional international relations programs with me. Being a Fletcher graduate, the colleague encouraged me to look at the Fletcher School. I remember looking online and the excitement inspired by the course offerings, which would allow me to develop management and leadership skills while I pursued my interest in humanitarian affairs and food security. I was soon on my way from New York to visit Fletcher for an evaluative interview. It’s fair to say that my visit and interview went very well, as I find myself now a member of the 2015 class.
In the year following that interview, I returned to Melbourne to work with a small not-for-profit, running a women’s group and homework club for Sudanese refugees. I also spent time completing the necessary requirements for graduate school applications, and preparing for my arrival (once I was accepted into The Fletcher School). In late August, which is towards the end of the Australian winter, I spent 28 hours flying through four cities to finally arrive in Boston and begin my new and exciting journey as a MALD student at The Fletcher School.
After Fletcher (a topic that I feel we spend a lot of time discussing here — mainly due to the programs offered by the Office of Career Services), I plan on utilizing all the skills and networks I will have gained at Fletcher to find a research or policy role in the Food Security field. My ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations in the field of Humanitarian Affairs. Fletcher’s amazing staff and professors, and the accomplishments of the alumni, have put me at ease at my ability to achieve my goals.
Tomorrow and Saturday, many students will be participating in the International Security Studies Program’s Simulex event. Not only students, in fact, but also experts from U.S. War Colleges, National Defense University, Military Service Academies, and several other local universities. The flyer announcing Simulex invites students to, “Develop and put your negotiation and crisis management skills to practice and save the (simulated) world! Test your wits against your fellow students, senior political-military officials, and U.S. Government war gaming experts.”
As I wrote yesterday, this year the Admissions Blog will be sharing the stories of three second-year students (Mirza, Roxanne, and Scott) and two (possibly more, still TBD) first-year students (Liam and Diane). Today, Liam describes his transition to student life.
I think one of the greatest challenges in coming to a professional school like Fletcher is that many of the students were just that — professionals — and being removed from the academic life for the “real world” for several years can make the return challenging.
For me, I was used to working 14 to 16 hours a day in a setting where I literally did not have a minute to myself. As I prepared to go to Fletcher, many people told me how much of a “break” it would be, compared to my last job. That’s partly true, insomuch as I make the decisions about what I do in the day, but the demands of the Fletcher curriculum are extremely rigorous, and when you couple that with our many extracurricular options both at Fletcher and throughout the greater Boson area, it can easily become overwhelming. Grad school is demanding; it’s also fun. My intent in this post is to highlight some of the adjustments that I found critical to making that transition a successful one.
1. First, I decided to treat grad school like a job. A second-year student gave me this tip early on, and it’s the soundest advice I’ve gotten here. I make myself set up a realistic daily schedule and hold myself to it. Regardless of when I have class, I start the day at a reasonable hour (like 9:00 a.m.) and get after my reading, research, papers, etc. To maximize time, I pack a lunch and keep going until 5:00 p.m. or so. The benefit of this approach is that, if I stick to the plan, I get a TON done, and I find myself with actual free time at night to have something of a social life or to do the other things that matter to me.
2. I found a place where I could focus. For many, this is the library, and there are so many great nooks and crannies in Ginn where you can hide away and get things done. For others, it may be their apartment or a coffee shop. I live in a quiet apartment close to school, so my living room is a good space for basic reading on topics I have an understanding of, but for tougher stuff I go to the library to really focus. The key goes back to my first point — I plan out my day and hold myself to it.
3. I make time to do the things I enjoy. For me, running is important, so I make a point of going to bed at a decent hour so I can get up early to run and still start schoolwork around 9:00. The course load will take all of your time if you let it, so I make a point of setting aside time for myself. It helps me blow off stress, and I find myself more relaxed and able to focus on my work. If I were to approach it as trying to “find” time for myself, rather than “making” time, I would simply never find that time.
4. I found it very important to join study groups, especially in the classes I have less background in. For me, my International Organizations class is tough — I have no law background, so it’s a whole new way of looking at things. At first, I would bang my head against the book trying to complete the readings, but early on I got together with a few other students in the class, and now we meet every week to go over the last week’s lectures and reading. It’s a great check to ensure I’m taking away the right lessons and tie them into the bigger picture of the syllabus.
5. Last, and the most important aspect of adjusting, has been getting to know my classmates and going out to do things. This means I don’t spend all my time studying. I’m going to be at Fletcher for a short time, so being social — hence not spending ALL my time studying — is important. Yes, this contradicts most of my previous points about being organized and focusing, but I want to spend time engaging with this amazing community. For me, I find it amazing to talk to other students about what they did before Fletcher and the impact they’ve already had on so many regions of the world. Conversely, things I’ve done that I really don’t think are all that special or important amaze a lot of other students I talk to. The number of guest lectures and extracurricular activities, groups, and opportunities here is staggering, and not taking the time away from studying to really get the full “Fletcher experience” would be missing most of the fun.
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