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Continuing a long history of producing interesting and timely publications, the Fletcher Forum has a new issue. Here’s how editor Alexander Ely described the new edition to the community.
The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is pleased to announce the online launch of our brand new issue, Vol. 37:1. Highlighting our latest issue is a special section focusing on U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges during the Second Obama Administration, including discussions with Former Secretary of State James Baker and Former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Also included are articles from Fletcher Professor William Moomaw, Fletcher graduates Suzanne Maloney and Michael Hammer, Michele Dunne, Mary Harper, David Koplow, Fletcher PhD student Prashanth Parameswaran, and many others. To view the complete list of articles and abstracts, along with PDF versions of the articles, please visit our website, or go directly to the individual PDFs.
Additionally, The Forum is available for sale. Please contact Business Director Alexander Kaz if you are interested in purchasing any issues. The Forum is run by a staff of forty graduate students here at The Fletcher School, and your support helps us to put out the best product possible each semester.
We encourage you to visit our website frequently, where our online edition regularly publishes original content by Fletcher students, professors, outside scholars and practitioners. We welcome submissions to both the print and online editions. More information on submission guidelines can be found here.
On behalf of the staff of The Fletcher Forum, who worked tirelessly to produce this issue, we thank you for reading and look forward to your comments, feedback and submissions.
Sure, it’s already pretty busy inside the classroom, but during the next two weekends a group of students will participate in the Fletcher Mediation Practicum, four days that will equip them with conflict resolution skills. Once the skills have been acquired, the practicum “graduates” will apply them by mediating actual cases in court. Though many Fletcher students have a law background, mediation is a related skill that doesn’t require prior experience in a law field. The practicum is offered by the International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program and MWI, and organizers say it will include, “demonstrations, coaching through simulations, and interactive lectures to impart step-by-step knowledge of the mediation process. Participants also learn how to handle difficult personalities, ethical dilemmas, and mediator biases, all while improving their personal communication skills.” Those are skills well worth developing for professionals in or out of international affairs!
Tagged with: Outside the classroom
Prospective students always ask about the path to Fletcher from wherever they are in their education or professional life. Today I’m introducing first-year MIB student, Scott Snyder, the next participant in the blog’s Student Stories feature, and I’m going to do so by walking you through his résumé. Scott and I sat down recently to talk about the different intertwined factors that led him to enroll at Fletcher last fall. Though résumés generally flow reverse chronologically, my goal is to walk you from start to finish, so let’s start with Scott’s undergraduate education.
Union College, Schenectady, NY; BA in political science, minor in history, June 2004
Research Assistant – Political Science Research Grant, Summer 2003
Semester Abroad, University of Ireland, Galway
Scott was a political science major with an international relations focus. His thesis was on the war in Iraq. He also had the opportunity to participate in an internship that turned into an independent study project.
Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Albany, NY; Intern, September 2003-March 2004
• Organized conference involving Senator Clinton, the mayors of five major Upstate New York cities and their economic development staff, federal government officials, and business and economic development experts, to discuss the Renewal Community program.
Scott’s supervisor always required interns to take on a project, and Scott’s was to consider how the Renewal Community program (a piece of domestic economic development legislation) was implemented in the area near Union College. The project led to the conference described above, a great introduction to politics, Scott said.
Margaret Walsh for Family Court Judge, Albany, NY; Campaign Manager, June-October, 2004
• Managed a campaign that placed a progressive underdog judicial candidate in office. Involved in all aspects of the campaign including development, communications, oversight of headquarters, and volunteer organization.
Once the internship was complete and Scott graduated from Union College, his internship supervisor helped him get a job with a candidate for a local judicial position. Scott was thus the 22-year-old, nearly completely inexperienced, campaign manager. Judge Walsh won the election. The campaign reinforced Scott’s interest in politics.
What to do after the election? Scott decided to move to Washington, DC, a fun place to be as a newly-minted graduate.
Campaign for America’s Future, Washington, DC; Program Assistant, April-October 2005
• Collaborated on Project for an Accountable Congress – a campaign to educate the public about ethical lapses of members of Congress, including paid media, press releases, constituent outreach, research and events.
Even as he worked at Campaign for America’s Future, Scott was planning his next step, which he thought would be the Peace Corps. But having completed most of the Peace Corps application process, he decided instead to move to Norfolk, VA for a new opportunity.
Operation Smile, Inc., Norfolk, VA; Mission Coordinator, March 2006-February 2007
• Administered pre-mission organization, on-the-ground logistics, and post-mission assessments for medical programs aimed at surgical repair for children with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.
• Recruited and led international medical volunteers, coordinated local patients and families, and communicated with local hospitals and governments to perform over 125 surgeries in a 10-day period for each medical program, with an average of six missions per year in China, Kenya, Peru and Cambodia.
Scott didn’t know at the time that his year in Norfolk was only step one of a six-year career with Operation Smile. In fact, Norfolk wasn’t exactly where he wanted to be, given that he had enjoyed living in DC, but his job required about six months of travel each year, and he was working with a great group of people.
Operation Smile was expanding, and he, along with another coordinator and friend, took positions with a new Hanoi office, requiring a two-year commitment. Though based in Hanoi, he spent much of his time in other Asian locations.
Operation Smile, Inc., Hanoi, Vietnam; Regional Program Coordinator, February 2007-May 2009
• Increased surgical productivity through logistical troubleshooting, staff development, and programmatic upgrades. Conducted trainings for local staff in partner countries at headquarters in Vietnam and Norfolk, VA and in the field.
At the end of the two years in Hanoi, Scott decided to step away from Operation Smile. He took some time to prepare for graduate school and consider other professional opportunities. What he found was that his best opportunity was back with Operation Smile.
Operation Smile, Inc., Norfolk, VA; Senior Program Coordinator, November 2009-May 2010
• Directed a scale-up medical program in Guwahati, India. Created new initiative to be replicated around the world, which increased surgical capacity from 150 patients treated during a mission to 967 in a three-week period.
• Facilitated program coordination for United States Navy Pacific Partnership. Conducted two missions aboard the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and Dili, Timor-Leste.
Scott had been thinking that he would go to business school, and he applied for enrollment in 2010. Instead, he left Norfolk yet again, this time for China, where he was charged with smoothing the occasional cultural differences and communication problems between Operation Smile and their Chinese partner foundation. Plus, he would gain experience in project management and fundraising, skills he wanted as he moved forward in his career.
Operation Smile, Inc., Beijing, China; Program Development Manger, May 2010-May 2012
• Managed programmatic and development team of five in China. Created and managed a $1.5 million budget per year, raised over $500,000 from companies and individuals within China, and oversaw the completion of more than 30 medical missions and 5,000 free surgeries performed.
• Developed strategy and initiated execution of Operation Smile’s 20th Anniversary in China – The March of Smiles — involving medical conferences, fund raising galas, and medical programs that operated on over 3,000 children in 2011.
This time, Scott was really ready to pursue a graduate degree. In fact, he applied in 2011 to Fletcher’s MIB program, having decided that the MIB’s blend of a core business curriculum and international relations courses was exactly what he needed. It was the only program to which he applied — a risky strategy that worked out for him — and then he deferred his admission. 2011-2012 was an enjoyable year, especially because his grad school plan was in place. He left Operation Smile in May 2012 and spent the summer in Beijing working on his language skills.
The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Medford, MA, 2012-2014
Master of Arts in International Business
• Concentrations: International Political Economy, Strategic Management, with China focus
• Activities: Non-Profit Sector Representative on Committee for Career Services, VP of ASEAN Society, International Development Group, Asia Club, Tufts Marathon Challenge
Scott is hoping to transition careers from global health to economic development, ideally at an international organization such as the World Bank. What ultimately sold him on Fletcher was the great network of alumni at organizations that interest him, a network that he believes will be a stronger support in his future job search than having a more traditional degree, such as an MBA. Meanwhile, he says he’s “learning a ton” and is getting great base knowledge in finance and accounting. His only regret from last semester was that the transition back to the classroom was a challenge, and he didn’t take advantage of lectures and other special events, at least not as much as he would have liked. He hopes to do more of that this spring.
Fletcher students generally take four classes per semester, which means that Maliheh, whose progress through the second year of the MALD program we’re tracking in the blog, has now completed her twelfth class. She offered to provide comments on those classes that had a particularly strong impact on her intellectually. Here are her notes.
As I had mentioned in my previous blog post, I chose to apply to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in order to gain an international perspective on development and the socio-economic systems in which development takes place. As a means of complementing my quantitative background, at Fletcher I took classes in econometrics, econometric impact evaluation, development economics, development aid in practice, and agricultural and rural development. Compared to all the exposure that I had to different disciplines in physical science, I found economic analysis to be a hard and complex subject. In many cases, it seemed far more complex than analysis in the physical sciences, simply because we cannot usually run controlled laboratory experiments, and because people do not always behave predictably.
I ran my first regression in the summer of 2004, as a student at Sharif University in Iran. I was working as a research assistant, though I did not understood regression at the time. After taking Econometrics (EIB E213) with Prof. Jenny Aker, today I understand that the study aimed to use regression to uncover and quantify interesting causal relations. Prof. Aker equipped us with the facts, intuition, and experience necessary for independent econometric research and for critical reading of empirical research papers, which opened the door for me, creating many opportunities to work at international organizations.
I used the skills I had learned in Prof. Aker’s class last summer, working at the World Bank, Office of the Chief Economist for the MENA Region. The paper that resulted from my research will be presented at the 19th Annual Conference of the Economic Research Forum in Kuwait in March. I found econometrics to be a field in which many abuses are possible, and in which things can go wrong with every step, from the formulation of the original ideas for the problem, to the printing of the final report. Being statistically literate helps in recognizing when to be skeptical about statistical claims.
Born and raised in the Iranian countryside, I had the powerful experience of living in a rural area where my mother was our village’s only teacher. I was in close contact with acute poverty and famine in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war, and I could see how being poor can affect the way people think, decide, spend, eat, and educate. Though, at that time, I could not foresee any solutions for these challenges, I have always been motivated by a desire to find solutions. Later in my studies, I learned that connecting the poor to the growth process is the unifying theme of many development agencies.
In development economics with Prof. Steven Block, we learned more about poverty and its relationship with inequality and growth, long-run economic growth, short-run recovery from economic shocks, and major public-policy challenges facing governments when they implement economic interventions. I also learned that a state’s natural resource wealth, including energy resources, can negatively influence its economic development, through currency appreciation, market volatility, political shortsightedness, and reactionary vested interests. Therefore I could answer my old question on why resource rich countries, such as Iran, perform poorly on improving economic outcomes.
Spending last summer working at the World Bank, I also became aware of the tremendous policies and programs initiated and implemented by international organizations, and I was always wondering how they measure whether a particular intervention, policy change, or program actually causes change in development outcomes. I found answers to my question back at Fletcher in the fall, when I took Prof. Aker’s course in econometric impact evaluation in which we were provided with a set of theoretical, econometric, and practical skills to estimate the causal impact of a policy or program.
Thus, not only did Fletcher’s curriculum help me to connect my past aspirations to my future goals, but my education at Fletcher was well matched with the need in industry. There was a neat back-and-forth between what I learned, how I was able to apply it, and new questions that emerged and would be answered in later classes. The relevance of my Fletcher curriculum so far has ensured there was never a gap between what I learned in the classroom and what I saw applied in the field.
University staff members are generally scheduled to work through December and January, though we can certainly arrange vacation time for these quiet weeks. Students, on the other hand, are thought to be on vacation. On today’s first day of classes for the spring semester, some students may be wondering what was meant when others referred to “the winter break.” For them, classes or activities may have run through the month since exams ended in December.
For starters, there was last week’s Office of Career Services-organized trip to New York. Activities on day one (Thursday) were actually arranged by the International Business Club, with a focus on private sector employers that met the interests of club members.
Day two (Friday) was loaded with activities for everyone, starting with Alumni Career Panels, featuring expert Fletcher grads in international development, the UN Secretariat, humanitarian assistance and refugee affairs, and public international law. The panels were followed by luncheons for students and alumni, and then employer site visits for the purposes of gathering information on careers and for networking.
Two days of career searching is nothing compared to the “vacation” work done by students taking January classes. At Fletcher, two modular (half credit) courses gave participating students a chance to lighten their spring load, while picking up key knowledge. The two courses, Design and Monitoring of Peacebuilding and Development; and Evaluation of Peacebuilding and Development for Practitioners and Donors, met on most days (including weekends) for two weeks. Beyond Fletcher, other Tufts and Harvard programs also offer January term courses that are open to Fletcher students.
All-in-all, while most students were vacationing (and providing photographic evidence for the Admissions facebook page), some will start their spring semester classes a little less refreshed, but presumably more knowledgeable.
Tagged with: Classes
Today is Shopping Day, when students can sample new course offerings. The regular class schedule will kick off tomorrow and, before it does, Roxanne shares her observations on her first Fletcher semester.
Selecting courses for a new semester has always been one of my favorite times in the academic life cycle. Before I dive into the Spring 2013 course offerings at Fletcher, I would like to reflect on some of my favorite moments from my first semester.
As part of a group project to present on the conflict in Rwanda in the 1990s, I read Scott Straus’s The Order of Genocide. Through interviews with convicted prisoners who confessed to their involvement in the Rwandan genocide, Straus sought to understand why individuals participate in acts of mass violence. In an excerpt from the book, he articulated the question that guides his research in a way that deeply resonated with my own interests:
“I never expected to be in Zaire or Rwanda or to cover raw violence, but once I witnessed such events, I could not let go of them easily. Eventually my trauma formulated itself as an intellectual question: Why does violence of this magnitude happen?”
The causes of violence, as well as responses and strategies for prevention, were a recurrent motif in my studies this semester. Another highlight, however, emerged out of my participation in a luncheon series on non-violent, rather than violent, conflict. The International Security Studies Program (ISSP), in partnership with the International Center on Non-Violent Conflict, offered a series of luncheon lectures on civil resistance and non-violent movement formation. The backgrounds of fellow participants in this series range from journalism and community organization, to veterans and PhD students. As Jessica has written in the Admissions Blog many times, there are more events and luncheon series at Fletcher than one could possibly attend, and this program on Nonviolent Civil Resistance has been among my favorites.
Another series of events that created many cherished memories for me is Fletcher’s Cultural Nights. These events showcase the many regions of the world from which students hail, through singing, dancing, musical performances — or even videos inspired by the various regions we are celebrating! Along with nine of my friends, I performed in a Balkan dance medley on Mediterranean Night, showcasing a Greek, Bulgarian, Bosnian, and Turkish traditional dance. Fiesta Latina was also full of warmth and laughter, and I am already looking forward to more of these cultural events next semester.
Student collaboration is not only a theme of how we celebrate and dance, but also how we learn and study. My study group for Peace Operations met every Tuesday to discuss the assigned reading for the class. The group consisted of five first-year students who had met during orientation, decided to help one another navigate the extensive reading load, developed a template for taking notes, and organized review sessions for themselves before the midterm. This was a perfect complement to learning inside the classroom, and was always something to look forward to in my calendar. Admittedly, it is initially challenging to adapt to the coordination and compromise required to co-write group papers or divide the workload and responsibilities of group presentations — but I am beginning to enjoy this process, and I’m grateful for the many life lessons along the way.
When I reflect on the moment I first felt at home at Fletcher, I think of Professor Dyan Mazurana’s lecture during a Fletcher Global Women lunch event. Professor Mazurana spoke about her work on gender and mass atrocities, retraced her path to her current endeavors, and shared the personal and professional challenges and rewards of being in this field. I felt similarly exhilarated attending an event by the Boston Consortium on Gender, Security, and Human Rights, which featured Nadine Puechguirbal, the Senior Gender Adviser for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and Cynthia Enloe, one of the leading thinkers on gender and international politics. It is refreshing to leave the campus and experience Boston’s thriving academic and professional community. Finally, no mention of my cherished memories of the semester would be complete without acknowledging the Fletcher Storytelling Forum, the project Katherine Conway-Gaffney and I co-created earlier this year. Listening to my classmates’ experiences of home and away has made me grateful to belong in the Fletcher community.
All the books I borrowed from the various Boston libraries have now been returned to their shelves, and I am getting ready to browse the 2013 course offerings. In the next two months, we can look forward to the legendary Fletcher Ski Trip, a concert by our favorite school band, Los Fletcheros, and the NYC and DC Career Trips. Stay tuned for updates, and Happy New Year!
A public service advisory from the blogger-in-chief, in answer to the question that seems to be on every caller’s mind this morning. What time is the deadline? The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5) tonight, January 10.
And now, we return to our regular content.
My short blog survey last fall yielded many useful topic ideas. And then there was this one: breweries. While I don’t know why someone thought this was a topic of vital importance to the blog, I nonetheless am happy to rise to the challenge and, moreover, to demonstrate the topic’s relevance to the Fletcher community. I realize this frothy post might not be what you were expecting on the day of our main application deadline, but when better to distract ourselves?
So, breweries. While Boston is not traditionally one of the main commercial brewing centers in the U.S., we nonetheless have rich local offerings. To get you started, I’ll note four breweries in particular: The big guys, Harpoon Brewery and Sam Adams Brewery, both in Boston; and two Somerville-based nomadic tenant brewers, Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project and Somerville Brewing Company. For a more complete reckoning, refer to the BeerAdvocate list. A beer aficionado could happily drink local for the length of a Fletcher degree program.
But what if our aficionado wanted to talk beer with other students. Well, then, membership in the Fletcher Fermentation 101 club would be a must. The mission and guiding principle of the group is:
Fermented products know neither time nor borders, and have been shared and enjoyed by many cultures throughout history. Fermentation 101 seeks to create a knowledge-sharing community at Fletcher that teaches and learns about the multifaceted wonders of fermentation. We explore all of the possibilities of fermentation, which include beer, wine, cider, cheese, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kimchi, yogurt, and tempeh. Our club hosts popular “beer and cheese pairings” each semester, as well as other events such as sourdough bread making, yogurt making, beer tastings, and private tours of local breweries. All members are encouraged to share a curiosity about fermentation and a desire to be involved in the greater fermentation community around Boston.
Finally, dear blog reader who challenged me to write about breweries, there’s this. The Boston Globe recently ran comprehensive lists of the area’s best beer bars, and followed up with the honorable mention selection. Many of these locales are within two miles of campus.
So there you have it. Breweries and a connection to the Fletcher community, even if the only admissions link is that we could all use a distraction today.
Tagged with: Outside the classroom
Here we are — January 8. Already a full week into 2013! And though the blog has been busy for the past two-plus weeks, I have been out of the office for that time, mostly on a lovely family trip to London, with a short add-on chocolate/waffle-fest in Brussels. Yesterday, I hosted the Admissions staff in my living room/conference center for our office retreat, but today I finally return to a more typical work day.
Though our focus is on the applications that are currently keeping the printer humming, I thought I’d kick off the new semester by closing out the last one. During exams (i.e. at an unreasonably inconvenient time), I asked students to answer two questions for me. Though I only received about a dozen responses, I still want to share them with you. Even a small sample of Fletcher students can demonstrate the breadth of interests in the community.
My first question: Did you have a favorite class this semester? If so, what was it, and what made it a favorite? The answers:
- “Politics of Violent Conflict in Africa” was a fantastic class. It was taught by Alex de Waal, one of the world’s foremost experts on East Africa, and the blend between theory and case studies was very powerful. I could feel my mind being stretched while sitting in it.
- Professor Klein’s “International Economic Policy Analysis.” Who knew writing policy memos based on econometric analysis could be so much fun?
- Prof. Basanez’s ”Cultural, Human Values and Development,” was thought provoking and enlightening. The elements of culture and human values are often forgotten by policymakers in the process of drafting developmental policies. Even when implementing the same policy in two different countries, the differences in culture will lead to different outcomes.
- “Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance.” It was a great learning experience to study corporate finance at a school like Fletcher, where people bring in different perspectives to the classroom and study groups, leading to rich discussion on financial transactions compared to a typical finance class at an MBA program.
- Prof. Martel’s “Foundations of Policy Analysis.” This class was high energy, covered an important area for future policy makers, and taught me how to write a memo.
- Prof. Gideon’s, “International Communication” class. I loved the dynamics between the students, and how comfortable everyone was to throw out witty, sometimes provocative remarks. Prof. Gideon clearly tries to make the class experience enjoyable without being fluffy.
- “International Negotiations.” We took part in several simulation exercises that were not only fun, but also intellectually challenging and great learning experiences. During a day-long simulation, we negotiated the terms of a civil war peace agreement, and my group came up with a Peace Accord that incorporated the interests and positions of both sides. It was a great way to put in practice what we had learned and to understand from a real-world perspective how I will use these critical skills in my future career.
- “Peace Operations” with Prof. Johnstone. I love him! and his classes….he is enthusiastic and a great professor.
- It was a tie between “Role of Force” and “Maritime History and Globalization.” Both classes were great because of the professors (Shultz and Perry). They have different styles, but are equally engaging and passionate.
- I loved Professor Martel’s “Foundations of Policy Analysis.” He made the class so engaging and interactive, using real life examples and experiences. Every day I learned something I could directly apply to my career.
If you’d like to read descriptions of each of the courses, you can find them (as well as all the other classes not captured by my limited survey) listed on the pages for each division: Diplomacy, History and Politics; Economics and International Business; and International Law and Organizations. My second question to the students was: Did you learn something special this semester? Something surprising, or that will be particularly valuable in your future career? Their answers:
- The framing of a problem is critical to how you think about it and how you solve it!
- To ensure sustainability, it is important to seek a balance between the cultures of joy and performance. Although the World Values Survey is very subjective, its contribution to social sciences is far greater than I would have expected.
- I learned invaluable quantitative skills in my “Statistical Methods” class with Prof. Nakosteen. I was anxious about taking the class, since I had no prior academic experience in statistics, but Prof. Nakosteen was a phenomenal teacher, and he made the subject matter engaging and fun. I’ve gained a whole new set of useful tools that will be of great use in my future career, and I know how to apply them in the real world.
- I learned to always have an opinion in class and that I need to be able to defend my opinion.
- I will definitely go back to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations time and again. Our discussion of it in Prof. Henrikson’s course made me realize just how important it is.
- I learned that International Law is precarious at best. I had always assumed that some sort of enforcement bound the law of nations, but found that goodwill is the glue that holds the International Court of Justice together.
- I feel even more grateful about being at Fletcher this semester — the fact that I am surrounded by these incredibly smart and talented classmates makes my life here really special. (Sorry if I’m not answering the question…)
Tagged with: Classes
Regular blog readers know how I feel about volunteers — I love them! Especially volunteer blog writers. Here, interim LLM program director (and LLM alum) Hyejin Park, follows up on her first post with a run-down of fall semester out-of-class activities for LLM students.
I can’t believe it’s already the end of the semester! It’s always with mixed feelings that I find myself at this time of the year – relief at making it to the end, combined with bittersweet feelings at having to let go of another piece of my life, especially if that piece is filled with so many exciting memories. In this sense, December does seem to be a time of major transition, as well as of thanksgiving.
Finishing off the fall semester, the LLM class had several more out-of-class activities. One of them was our third High Table, featuring Andrew Loewenstein, partner at Foley Hoag LLP’s Boston office. As someone with an extensive experience in international litigation and arbitration, including disputes involving public international law, he was in an excellent position to comment on the topic of “Representing Sovereign States before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Other International Courts and Tribunals.” Since his perspective was that of a counsel and advocate in these proceedings, he focused on providing the behind-the-scenes views as to what litigating international disputes involves in practice. The class got to hear all about the strategic and tactical decisions that go into conceiving, planning, and proving the parties’ claims and defenses, which is an enlightening subject for any international lawyer, and certainly for our LLM students.
Another event took us to downtown Boston, for a November visit to the Massachusetts government. We combined our visits to all three branches of the state government in a day’s trip, as the John Adams Courthouse is adjacent to the State House, home to both the state legislature and the Governor’s Office. Fittingly for a field trip, a classic yellow school bus took us to our first destination, which was the State House.
Guided by Anthony, the State House tour director, the members of our LLM class from 13 different countries had a glimpse of how a state legislature and executive work under the U.S. federal system, including how state laws are made and how they interact with federal and international laws. Students also had a chance to expand on the comparative insight when they sat down with our local representatives, Senator Patricia Jehlen and Representative Paul Donato, to hear more about state legislative activities.
Our next stop was the John Adams Courthouse, home to the Supreme Judicial Court (the state’s highest appellate court) and the Massachusetts Appeals Court (the state’s intermediate appellate court). Here, our gracious host was the Honorable Robert Cordy, Associate Justice of the SJC and also a member of the Fletcher LLM Program’s Advisory Council. He personally took the class on a guided tour of the Courthouse, sharing all the fascinating stories behind each corner of the architecture. He even let our LLM students sit on the seats of the seven Justices of the SJC!
Thanks to our welcoming hosts, our very international LLM class was fortunate to have the chance to get a little more acquainted with the fascinating Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is at once steeped in history and very much forward-looking. Back on campus, my best wishes to all, and congratulations to the LLM students on the conclusion of the first half of their academic year!
Tagged with: LLM
It turns out I needn’t have worried about sustaining the blog’s new Student Stories feature. I started off with only two students — Mirza and Maliheh, plus Manjula on the alumni side — but today I’m introducing Roxanne Krystalli, who has an interest in writing and who volunteered to be included. I love volunteers! Roxanne is a first-year MALD student, studying International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. For her second Field of Study, she is in the process of designing one on the theme of Gender and Conflict. Prior to Fletcher, she worked with women affected by conflict, in affiliation with the United Nations, Peace in Focus (co-founded by current MIB student Kate Fedosova, and Kyle Dietrich, 2009 MALD graduate), and other organizations in Egypt, Uganda, Colombia, Guatemala, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. Today, Roxanne tells us about her interests and a special project she has initiated.
I arrived at Fletcher with three different, but connected, interests: First, I came here to further study the intersection of gender and conflict, which I had explored in my field work with ex-combatants in Colombia, survivors of sexual violence in East Africa, and women parliamentarians in the Middle East. Second, I was fascinated by non-violent movements and civil resistance, with which I became better acquainted through the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict. And third, the thread that tied everything together was my fervent belief in the power of storytelling. Whether as a co-designer and implementer of curricula on creative peace-building through visual and written stories in post-conflict areas, or as a budding writer, photographer, and blogger, I was fascinated by the power of stories to air grievances, generate empathy, move individuals to action, and create community.
In Fletcher classrooms, stories are rigorous, academic, footnoted. This made my MALD classmate, Katherine Conway-Gaffney, and me wonder: What about the other stories? The more personal stories? The stories the members of this community carry within them? Katherine and I first met through the “buddy program” that pairs incoming first-year students with second-year students with similar interests, and we quickly discovered that we both believed the power of this community lies in the narratives that exist within it.
It is this shared belief in the power of storytelling that led us to co-found the Storytelling Forum. The format is simple: Students are invited to share stories that have affected their lives and work, in response to question prompts. This is not an academic discussion, or a how-to; rather, it resembles the conversations that would unfold at a café among friends. Our first evening of sharing stories, moderated by Professor Eileen Babbitt, revolved around the theme of the personal dimensions of work, and the thrills and challenges of an international life, while the second evening focused on notions of home and family. Students’ suggestions for future storytelling evenings include topics ranging from questions of love, solitude, and companionship, as they relate to an international career, to stories about humility, uncertainty, or grief. The project is independent and student-run and, since many of the stories are so personal, we have restricted readership to members of the Fletcher community.
My first semester at Fletcher has been nothing short of humbling and inspiring. Looking into the various stories that inhabit this community, and slowly seeing how they intersect or diverge, fuels my gratitude for being here. Stay tuned for more updates on stories from the Fletcher community!
Tagged with: Student Stories
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