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I’ve been very pleased with my new-this-year Student Stories feature on the blog. An attentive reader might ask, “Why so pleased? They haven’t been writing much lately.” True, critical reader. But here’s why I’m happy. When I asked each of the students if they wanted to inaugurate this blog theme, they all said yes. I appreciate enthusiasm — this was my first team and I didn’t need to go to my bench! When I met with each writer for the first time, I emphasized that there are plenty of places on the Fletcher web site to read interesting, but formulaic, student profiles. My hope was that we would work together to develop ideas for posts, and I have basically gone along with any idea they’ve presented. Overall, I didn’t know what the feature would look like when we launched it in October, but I knew that all would be clearer by the end of the academic year, in May.
But back to the fact that the writing tends to arrive in spurts (after winter break, for example). In this case, the reasons why they’re not writing may be as interesting as what they would have written. Let’s start with Maliheh. She emailed me an apology last week for not having submitted a promised post, but she really needn’t have apologized — I know exactly what she’s up to. She’s processing the bounty of acceptances she has received to PhD programs around the country. Was I surprised to learn of her success? No I was not. Maliheh is amazing. Don’t tell her I said that — she’s also humble.
What’s Mirza up to? He told me late last semester that he took on a research project that was intellectually satisfying, but used a lot of his time. Then, over the winter break, he and his musical partner revived their duo, Arms and Sleepers. They played some local gigs, and planned an amazing tour for Mirza’s spring break. In Europe or Russia? Don’t miss this opportunity to catch a performance — who knows whether this tour will be their last.
(I’d like to add a little practical note here. One of the reasons Arms and Sleepers is back is that Mirza realized his earnings potential is greater building on a past success than taking a part-time campus job. Many students are able to do something similar — consulting part time for a past employer, for example. File that away in your mental financial plan!)
Back to the writers. Scott has promised me a piece very soon. Not much more to say there. Roxanne continues to be very busy on campus with the Storytelling Forum (the website includes more and more content) and a new series of conversations about gender issues (curricular and more broadly) at Fletcher. Nonetheless, I arrived at work this morning and found an email from Roxanne containing her next post. I’ll share it as soon as I can.
Which leaves Manjula who, though an alumnus now, was the student who made me think that following students’ stories as they pursued their individual paths through Fletcher would be a good idea. Manjula has a million things going on connected to his organization Educate Lanka. A lot of them are in the “we’re a finalist” or “just need to sign the contract” phase, so we agreed to hold off on an EL update. But the organization more than keeps him busy, and any free moments can be spent writing for a larger audience on topics such as Unleashing Potential Through Education.
As much as Educate Lanka fills Manjula’s days, he still sets aside time for other activities, such as getting married. He shared some amazing wedding photos with me. I would love to post every single one of them — they’re that beautiful — but I’ll settle for just this one.
Manjula told me that the wedding outfits that he and his bride, Chara, wore are traditional in Kandy, the region of Sri Lanka that Manjula comes from. He explained that Kandy was the last kingdom in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the traditional wedding attire derives from royal regalia. He said, “The outfit I wore is called the Kandyan Nilame. And Chara’s jewellery and the ceremony that we followed are also according to the Kandyan traditions.”
So, blog friends, that’s what my writers are up to. Given their interesting busy lives, I’m happy to wait a little longer for their next posts.
Tagged with: Student Stories
Just in time for your International Women’s Day celebration, students have created a wonderful online and in-person exhibit of photographs and stories. The photos will be displayed at Fletcher only today, but the exhibit website can be perused at your convenience. As enticement, here’s the introduction that accompanies the photos:
I think the word is out that I cherish students’ unsolicited contributions to the blog. When I received a note from MALD student Lauren, I was happy not only because I was spared some writing, but also because she shared some exciting news. Lauren told me:
A team of Fletcher and Friedman students has advanced to the regional finals for the 4th annual Hult Prize. Our team is made up of two Fletcher students (Jane Church and myself), one Friedman student (Kimberly Feeney London), and one dual-degree Fletcher-Friedman student (Christina Filipovic). This year’s Hult Prize is themed around global food security, and the challenge (posed by President Clinton) is to create a social enterprise to get safe, sufficient, affordable and easily accessible food to the people of urban slums. If we advance through the regional finals, we participate in a summer incubator to further develop our business. A final round of decisions will occur in September and we could compete with the winners from the five other regions throughout the world for $1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.
And here’s some general information Lauren provided: The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition and crowdsourcing platform for social good. In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Hult Prize identifies and launches social ventures that aim to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. Student teams compete in five cities around the world on March 1 and 2 (this coming weekend!). The Tufts team will compete at the Boston regional final, with the four other regional competitions held in San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Each team was selected from more than 10,000 applications received, totaling over 350 colleges and universities, representing over 150 countries.
The summer business incubator Lauren referred to provides participants with mentorship, and advisory and strategic planning, as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. The final round of competition is hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative and CGI delegates will select the winning team that receives the million dollar award, presented by former President Bill Clinton.
In a press release developed by the University, Lauren is quoted saying, “We think there is enormous potential to use market-based solutions to improve food security, economic growth and social justice despite the challenges posed due to population growth and climate change.”
In the same press release, the founder of the Hult Prize, Ahmad Ashkar, attributes the success of the competition to the global youth revolution and said, “We continue to be moved by the large number of students from around the world who are capitalizing on the opportunity to develop business models that target the bottom of the pyramid.” And he said, “We wish every team the best of luck and thank Tufts University for supporting this initiative.”
The final word of the week on the Office of Career Services and the career trip to Washington, DC comes from Roxanne, who is using the trip to think through her internship objectives.
Prior to arriving at Fletcher, permanence was fleeting. My work with women affected by conflict drew me from one country to the next, uprooting me from one community only to parachute into another. In addition to the questions this model raised about the continuity and sustainability of impact, the lifestyle also made me crave tucking the suitcase away and putting down roots. The depth of these roots was not important; I did not, at the time, long to own a home of my own and grow old there. But when I arrived at Fletcher, I found myself relieved that I could have a permanent address that, in turn, allowed me to build routines and relationships that were difficult to sustain while I did field work in conflict management.
For the first five months after arriving in the U.S. to enroll at Fletcher, I did not board a single flight, perhaps out of a resistance to burst the bubble of permanence I have come to cherish. I finally traveled for the New York City Career Trip, organized by the Office of Career Services to allow students to consider their career and internship options. This week, I am heading to Washington with my classmates for the DC Career Trip and the itinerary is packed with site visits at international organizations, government agencies, and NGOs. The internship search requires each of us to consider a set of questions: Do I wish to remain in the U.S. or work internationally? Am I hoping to use the summer experience to gain insight into a potential career track, build a relationship with a new organization, deepen an existing relationship with an institution, or try something entirely new to me? Am I honing a specific set of skills, diversifying my experience, or attempting to create a medley of all possible options?
Self-reflection is the first, and perhaps the most critical, step of the process. Identifying mentors and soliciting input is a necessary next step. Through conversations with professors and career advisors here, as well as in late-night discussions with classmates, we each seek to figure out which organizations and opportunities suit our personal and professional priorities. Once we have honed a list of organizations that interest us, the process of networking kicks into high gear. That is where Fletcher’s current students and alumni are the most powerful resource, helping their peers connect with current or former employers or with organizations of interest. It is a season of email writing, of introducing new colleagues to old supervisors, and new friends to old mentors who may be able to guide them. Many of us have scheduled informational interviews during the DC Career Trip to gain a better understanding of the professional trajectory in our fields of interest and of the best way to prepare for a career in them.
To that end, during the DC Career Trip, I will be having coffee with a Fletcher alumna with vast experience in the intersection of gender and conflict. I will also participate in a site visit to a research and policy group that focuses on women in conflict areas, and attend a panel on conflict resolution-related opportunities. At each of these events, I will be reflecting on the skills I need to develop, the questions I should be asking of myself and others in this field, and the roles and careers in this field that I may not have otherwise been aware of or considered.
A lot of these professional questions intersect with the personal questions I was considering prior to coming to Fletcher: Am I envisioning a career in constant motion? Do I picture myself living internationally or within a particular country? In the field or at headquarters? Working with the UN, as I once did, or with a different agency? In a research and policy-oriented role or on the implementation side of projects? Stay tuned for the answers in my next installment of the Student Stories series….
There are no Fletcher classes today or tomorrow while students are visiting Washington, DC for the annual career trip. A couple of weeks ago, the director of the Office of Career Services, Phillip McMullen, sent us a preview of the many different activities students could choose from. Here’s how he described the trip for his colleagues.
Hi All –
My great team has pulled together another winning DC Career Trip, which is two weeks away. We closed registration last night and I thought I would share a few statistics.
- A total of 67 events over the two days:
- 9 Panels
- 3 Affinity Group Events
- 24 Site Visits
- 30 Alumni Lunches
- 1 Alumni-Student Reception (250 students/250 alumni)
- 1, 440 — total seating capacity across all events, excluding the reception
- 320 participating students
- 160+ alumni speakers/hosts, excluding the reception
- Some new additions this year:
- National Security/White House Tour/Briefing
- DM&E Roundtable
Staff members who will be in DC are welcome to join us at the reception. A cozy gathering of 500 enthusiastic Fletcherites.
Tagged with: Career
Incoming Fletcher students have their first interactions with the Office of Career Services during Orientation, which means everyone focuses early on sharpening professional profiles and identifying internship opportunities. Today, Maliheh tells us how she built her partnership with OCS.
My experience with the Office of Career Services at the Fletcher School has been wonderful. From the first day, the staff has gone above and beyond in supporting me with my career search. As an international student, I was facing unique challenges as I sought to build my career and find an internship. Aside from employment restrictions imposed by U.S. immigration regulations, I was concerned about cultural differences that could affect my ability to successfully present my qualifications. I was surprised to learn how different an American résumé looks from a résumé I might prepare for employment in my home country. I had heard something about “networking” as a job-search strategy, but didn’t know that in the U.S., the primary way people get professional positions is through networking appropriate and effective contacts. I didn’t even have any idea on how I could begin the networking process.
In my search for a summer internship, I relied on the help of Career Services. The diverse skills and knowledge of the OCS staff matches pretty well with the diverse student body at Fletcher. Getting a job or an internship in an international organization can be challenging, but there are many opportunities to get your “foot in the door,” which all need a good knowledge of the organizational structure and business culture in that organization. Before I began my search for an internship within the UN and the World Bank, Career Services helped me in building my résumé and tailoring it to the needs of these organizations, and they helped me to find the appropriate way to approach my contacts.
Initially, I would stop by OCS every other day to ask very detailed questions on how to correspond with my contacts, but gradually I could be more independent than that. Their assistance helped me find a place where I truly enjoyed working, the World Bank. During my summer at the World Bank, I was amazed to discover how many Fletcher alumni are working there, including two of the bank vice presidents, Rachel Kyte and Hassan Tuluy. Using the Fletcher network, when I was at the bank, I was offered another internship position at the World Resources Institute, where I had always dreamed to work. After two months of research at WRI, I received an award that is offered to WRI’s best summer researcher. I mention this not to brag, but to say that all Fletcher students have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their careers.
About one year ago, as a first-year MALD student, I was filled with fear and stress about the internship search. I knew that finding a substantive internship can be difficult even for U.S. students, and the challenge would be greater for me, an international student. By the end of the spring, having drawn on the support of OCS, I was fortunate to be able to select from several internship offers. Now, as a graduating MALD student, I am extremely grateful for the resources offered within Career Services as they helped me in reaching the next phase of my career path. Looking forward to my next job search, I no longer have the fear I felt only a year ago.
Last week, Kristen and I went out to the Hall of Flags for an hour to chat with students and capture some of their thoughts for the blog. I was the typist, and Kristen was the wingwoman/interviewer/photographer. We asked as many people as we could to tell us something that they learned at Fletcher, either inside or outside the classroom. Our first visitor was Matt, a PhD candidate, who kicked off our conversations with a way-outside-the-classroom response.
Matt: I’ve learned that it actually is possible to learn a whole Bollywood dance in only a week. In order to get a date.
The remaining responses trended somewhat more academic.
Felix: One of the biggest things I’ve learned here is how to squeeze the world into two pages. Presenting international terrorism to your foreign minister — 90 seconds. NATO-Russia relations — two pages. Dealing with complex information in a pragmatic way, a solution-oriented way.
We chatted together with an MIB duo of David and Qasim.
David: So much of what I’m learning is from my fellow students, especially in settings where we do teamwork, which is very conducive to new learning. It’s intense and the learning curve is very steep, but I’ve learned a tremendous amount.
Qasim: I’ve learned about the experiences of many different people I’ve met – how to make their food, and the different ways they live. And the second thing I’ve learned is how to manage my time and prioritize.
Next we chatted with a sales team for the Africana Club, promoting the “Sounds of the Continent” Africana Night event.
Jenn: Prof. Glennon posed this great question in his class, asking if international law is really law, and it helped me to use his model when thinking about it. The example is that you’re driving through the woods and you want to throw your trash out the window. But do you throw your trash out the window? If not, why? You won’t get caught. What is it that makes you feel it’s wrong? What is it that makes you feel a responsibility to not do these things? Is there a rule about it? Or is it that you want there to be a rule about it? Is it a bad thing that there’s not a rule? Is it something that we still obey if it’s not written down?
Blaen: I came to Fletcher to get exposed to a different field, to law, so I’ve learned how lawyers think, and also about policy making. It’s all about the consequences — it’s not about the profits or values, it’s all about the consequences.
We went back to our table to catch some more people as they crossed the Hall of Flags.
Trisha: I’ve learned the importance of interdisciplinary connections and how you can see different sides of the same coin when you take different classes at Fletcher. And…free pizza is your best friend. Hang around the Hall of Flags for free food.
Patrick: I’ve learned not only from the professors but also from my fellow students and from visiting guests who come to give talks. I find that these talks help you to think about things in a broader context.
I agreed to be in the photo with Patrick, because I’ve known him longer than any other Fletcher student! (Also because Kristen insisted.)
Maddie: I’ve learned that I am now interested in things that I never imagined I would be interested in, even within the broader field that I was pursuing. Before coming to Fletcher, I was intending to study strategic management and international consultancy, but after taking Prof. Jacque’s international finance course, I developed a new interest in finance and decided to switch my focus. Overall, Fletcher opened my eyes to things I never knew I was interested in.
Hannah: I do feel that Fletcher has given me the opportunity to make a lot of different connections that I wouldn’t have if I had stayed in the career track that I was in before. Like doing the MasterCard project and seeing the inside of a big corporation and the role it can plan in international development. A company like that sees financial inclusion as a business opportunity.
This also opened up a lot of career ideas for me. I’m thinking about my job search in a more organic way, thinking about what I want to do, rather than sending off a whole bunch of job applications with less thought.
Kristen interviewed Hannah for admission “way back when,” in DC. And Hannah said Kristen was a big part of the reason why she ended up here.
Margot: I came from the development world, so I had that focus when I started at Fletcher. I’m trying to reorient on the link between security and development in Africa, and something that I’ve learned from my classes such as Role of Force, or interacting with the Fletcher military fellows (and learning how thoughtful they are), and Fletcher events is the theoretical and practical security paradigms. I already transitioned from a human rights focus in college to a development focus through my work. But now I’m adding security to that mix. I feel I had been a little closed off where I was, but now I have the ability to open up to different domains.
And we’ll give the final word to Prof. Gallagher, a MALD graduate herself. She was rushing past us, on her way to meet a candidate for an open faculty position, but Kristen made good use of the minute while Prof. Gallagher waited for the elevator. What has she learned at Fletcher?
It might be a little glib, but what haven’t I learned!
Tagged with: Hall of Flags
Yes, it was a very snowy weekend. The Blizzard of 2013 howled for about 24 hours, starting mid-day on Friday. By Saturday afternoon, the sun was peeking out, and yesterday was a fantastic day — beautiful blue skies and crisp, without being too cold.
The snowstorm set the stage for a student-imposed assignment. Via the Social List, a snowball fight challenge was issued. Then a series of messages followed organically that could have been the response to an exam essay prompt. It started with a challenge from the Class of 2013 (primarily second-year students):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Fletcher students are not created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unequal powers of wit, passion, and brevity. That to secure these lofty ideals, warriors are called upon, deriving their merry powers from the spirit of their greater lot. …The Class of 2013 calls upon its men and women — aspiring scholars, philanthropists, and diplomats — to eschew peace this once and to arm themselves with snow to remake the Fletcher School once more.
Soon after, the details of the call to snowball-laden arms went out:
For all those who are aching for an all-out battle, ready your snow horses and bayonets. Sunday Evening, Fletcher Field, 5 PM. Class of 2013 to gather at north end along Ginn. Class of 2014 to gather at south end of the field along Professor’s Row. (I know this doesn’t fit the dictates of modern warfare, but I think it’ll be more dramatic this way.)
The Class of 2014′s response:
Normally we do respect old people. However you, class of 2013, want this and you will get what you deserve!
And then an assortment of comments, many from the Class of 2013, who seemed to have more theory to weave into their snow-warmongering:
We did not seek war. But 2014 has left us with no choice. The 2013 PeaceMALDs have decided to join their WarMALD colleagues, along with other courageous men and women of the distinguished 2013 corps, in this quest to rid Cabot of tyranny, ageism, and first-year brazenness.
Due to the lack of acknowledgement by the Class of 2013, the Swiss Council at the Fletcher School has, in an unprecedented meeting, decided to abandon its long-standing policy of neutrality and we call on all other neutral nations to follow us in this historic step. We will proudly provide our extraordinary expertise in the discipline of snow fights to the Class of 2014, which has shown tremendous effort to reach out to the Swiss delegation.
MIB SnowPowder, LLC will be setting up a ready-made snowball factory shop located on the east side of the field. Our mission is to anticipate our customers’ needs and to stay on the leading edge of technology in the snow-arm industry, and provide quality snow-ammo and services at a reasonable price. Mini ice buckshots will be sold for a quarter a piece, while our devastating snow bombs will be priced at 2 dollars.
The Fletcher Humanitarian Community will provide access to emergency care for war-wounded people. We will offer assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of independence and impartiality. We do not take sides in armed conflicts, we provide care on the basis of need, and we push for independent access to victims of conflict as required under international humanitarian law. You can recognize us in pink shirts with glittery unicorn emblems.
As a man of peace, as an attorney, as a man of good will, as a father and husband, I call upon you all, ambassadors of peace and good will, to avoid war. Do not be a realist. It is not about the survival of both classes. It is about peace, and cooperation for the common good. I am not taking any side in this moment of tension, but I am willing to be a mediator to settle the dispute. I am not talking about a peace enforcement mission under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. I am talking about trying to settle the dispute for the benefit of the whole community. Let’s negotiate the historic Hall of Flags peace accord…Give peace a chance…
The emerging security paradigm of this post-Nemo world has blurred the lines between combatant and non-combatant. This war amongst the people can and will get messy. We must be prepared for the war after the war. We must be prepared for the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns.
And, finally, a note of sanity from a first-year student:
Dear God, will the second years stop at nothing to procrastinate on their theses?? How many innocent first years need to be pelted by snowballs before that lit review section finally gets written?
Tagged with: Social List
Fall slipped away without a second post from Mirza, but I’m happy to say that he’s still very much part of our Student Stories feature. Unlike Maliheh, who is in the final semester of her MALD program, Mirza has completed only four courses, and is now taking his second group of four. Graduating students’ curricula have a way of looking very planned and intentional. What Mirza shares below is that the curriculum formation process is best approached with an open mind.
After submitting my enrollment deposit for the Fall 2012 semester, I immediately began compiling a comprehensive list of courses and Fields of Study that I wished to pursue at Fletcher. The idea was simple and quite reasonable: the more prepared I was at the outset of my Fletcher career, the more I would get out of the MALD program by the end of its two years. I spent the summer before my first semester crafting intricate tables with various combinations of courses, highlighting breadth requirements with tacky colors, and endlessly matching courses with depth and certificate requirements. I even met with a professor and emailed the Office of Career Services. I was determined to be as prepared as possible. Though I did also manage to do other (more fun) activities over the summer, this “figuring out my two years at Fletcher” became a passion, if not an obsession.
So, naturally, I strolled into class Shopping Day after the week-long Orientation thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do. For me, these shopping sessions would be purely informational since I had my class schedule firmed up — not only for this semester, but for the ensuing three semesters as well. Everything needed to happen in a particular manner for my academic grand strategy to materialize. There was no room for deviation — that’s what undergraduate study had been for, after all.
My grand strategy lasted for about 24 hours. One full day of classes, and I was back at the drawing board. Slowly but surely, I was switching from one class to another. Econometrics replaced finance. A security studies class replaced a law class. International communication replaced policy analysis. By the time the add/drop period ended, I had switched all but one of my original classes. The prudent summer planning was in shambles, and I was rethinking my entire approach to the academic curriculum at Fletcher. The simple truth was that everything — classes, people, events, and new opportunities — was exciting, but also slightly overwhelming.
What I learned was that being here matters. Even though two years is a short amount of time, and knowing one’s academic direction and career trajectory is essential, there is only so much that can or should be planned prior to joining Fletcher in person. Why? For me, the key was meeting peers who voiced passionately just how interesting and useful a particular class is — a class I didn’t think much about when reading its description in the course bulletin. I also came to understand the importance of studying with a great professor — even if I don’t ultimately specialize in that professor’s field of expertise, I will value his or her contribution to my development as a productive and successful Fletcher student. And factoring the advice of peers and professors into my course selection will help me create the curriculum that will best support my job search and career.
Once classes began, I also discovered the importance of being involved in the Fletcher community outside of class, leading me to redistribute my course load for a more realistic balance. And, finally, before I enrolled, I hadn’t foreseen that learning and intellectual growth can take unexpected turns, and even at the master’s program level, it is possible to discover new — and previously untapped — interests.
If you are planning for your Fletcher program, take it from me, you simply cannot anticipate all this without being here, and that is entirely o.k. Those two special (and potentially most memorable) years of your life begin in late August, and the real planning starts in the Hall of Flags.
Mirza’s first semester classes:
Processes of International Negotiation
Internal Conflicts and War
And this semester:
Entrepreneurial Marketing: Building a Winning Business Plan
Analytic Frameworks for International Public Policy Decisions
Political Economy After the Crisis [cross-registered at Harvard]
Values, Interests, and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy [cross-registered at Harvard]
Tagged with: Student Stories
Have you finished reading The Fletcher Forum, which I suggested to you last week? In that case, check out the blog that was recently launched by Praxis: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security. Here’s how co-Editor-in-Chief, Kamil, described the blog to the community.
PRAXIS is pleased to announce the launch of our very own blog today!
The blog will be a space to share, discuss, and collaborate on issues related to human security. We will publish short “View from the Field” articles, from both current and former students, continuously throughout the year. Occasionally the site will feature special posts, including interviews with professionals, film and book reviews, photo essays, and messages from practitioners.
Our first View from the Field this year came from first-year student Madeeha Ansari. Madeeha wrote about her time at a school for the urban poor outside Islamabad. And last Friday, a new post went up from second-year student Katherine Conway about memorialization in Rwanda.
We are also launching a series of videos on the site, where practitioners and professionals working on issues related to human security will answer the question: What does human security mean to you? Our first video comes from our very own Academic Dean Peter Uvin.
We are currently collecting Views from the Field for our next deadline on February 28th. If you had a fantastic experience over the summer or winter break and want to write a short blog about it, please check out the submissions page. We will include the top two Views from the Field in the spring issue of our online Journal. The top two Views from last year by Claire Duffet and Sam Chapple-Sokol are included on the blog.
Check out the site and look for future posts shortly!
P.S. Kamil told me that prospective students are welcome to submit Views, too! Check out the submission instructions and send one along!
Tagged with: Praxis
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