In the summer, I like to use my own activities to give readers a sense of the varied things we can do in the Tufts area. I hope no one has interpreted my lack of weekend reports to mean that there’s nothing fun happening! On the contrary, while I won’t try to reconstruct my entire summer, I’ll share a few highlights from recent weekends.
Earlier this month, I made my first-ever trip to a Frank Lloyd Wright house. The only house designed by the famous architect in Massachusetts is a private home, but just about an hour away is the Zimmerman House, run by the Currier Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire. The house is a good example of Wright’s “Usonian” style and is well worth the trip, as is the Currier Museum. A real little gem of a place.
This past Sunday, my husband Paul and I headed over to our favorite Revere Beach for the annual Sand Sculpting Festival. First (and briefly, because I’m fully capable of going on and on about it), I’ll just say that Revere is a wonderful spot for convenient beach access, clean sea water, and delicious Salvadoran/Cambodian/Moroccan/other foods. And every year, there’s the Sand Sculpting Festival which, this year, really drew a crowd. Once there, folks were greeted by a large sculpture of the USS Constitution. (The actual Constitution recently returned to the water after a period in drydock for repairs.)
The “People’s Choice” award winner was a Tufts Jumbo-friendly sand-elephant family of three, napping on the beach.
In that photo, you can tell what a windy day it was from the kite surfer in the distance. Dozens of kites dotted the sky by the time we left.
Those less inclined to kite surf and more inclined to eat could choose from lots of food trucks offering treats, some of which were more nutritious than these.
My summer weekends seem to be flying by, but there’s plenty going on here. I’ll try to file one more weekend report before the end of the summer. I never have enough time to write about our neighborhood during the academic year so now’s the time to suggest locations for you to explore.
A bunch of years ago, a task that was tossed my way was to sift through boxes and boxes of photos and figure out which should go to the Tufts Digital Library. There were all sorts of gems in there and I had some favorites. Here is one.
Fletcher welcomed its first students in 1933, which would make this a photo from the sixth academic year. Compared with the students of today, there are more suits and a higher proportion of men in this group photo. I can’t even tell where it was taken. Some room that has been renovated many times in the intervening years, I suppose.
There are plenty of other Fletcher pix in the archives. Have a look and find your own favorites!
With today’s post from Pulkit, we’ll have heard about the summer activities for all three of our student bloggers who will be continuing on at Fletcher (and in the blog) in September.
Hello! I hope all the readers of the Fletcher Admissions Blog are enjoying their summer; and if you are an admitted student, I look forward to meeting you soon. It feels nice to be writing and sharing again. The end of the spring semester was very busy — from winding up school with tests and assignments, to moving out of Blakeley Hall into a new apartment and traveling. There is much to share, and I hope my story and experiences at Fletcher will resonate with you one way or another.
Let me begin my telling you about my favorite class this past semester. In comparison, it felt like spring semester went by faster than the fall semester. I took three classes at Fletcher; the fourth was offered jointly by Fletcher, the Tufts Friedman School, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. International Humanitarian Response was taught by Dr. Stephanie Kayden of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Dr. Daniel Maxwell of Tufts Feinstein International Center. The classes met every Wednesday at Harvard, centrally located in Cambridge. It was one of my favorite classes for many reasons.
First, I had the opportunity to step off the Tufts Medford campus every week, taking the #96 bus from Tufts down to Cambridge. Second, my classmates came from different schools — from Fletcher, Friedman, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Medical School — making it a real collaborative environment to engage and to study. Third, I took the opportunity to lead my project and assignment group. Managing and collaborating with peers at different locations and liaising with other project groups was a good challenge to have this semester. Fourth, the class had a simulation exercise towards the end of April. The entire class, along with over a hundred volunteers, camped at the Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover to put into practice much of what we learned about humanitarian response during our classes. The simulation had everything — UN Cluster System coordination meetings, minefields, fake militia, armed attacks on the camp, and rationed food and water supply. I made so many mistakes through the three days of the exercise, but overall the experiential component made it a great learning experience. (Here’s a story about a previous year’s exercise.)
Beyond the spring’s exciting classes, I also kept myself busy with extra-curricular activities. Every Saturday, I volunteered with Teach-in CORES, a volunteer collective of Tufts University students, working with the Committee On Refugees from El Salvador, in Somerville, to teach literacy and English as a second language, and prepare the participants for the U.S. citizenship exam. On Thursdays, I would make it a point to go to the open-to-the-public seminars on nuclear policy and nuclear non-proliferation at the Project on Managing the Atom, at Harvard Kennedy School. I also took the opportunity to recite a couple of poems at the student-led Fletcher Open Mic Nights, a wonderful forum to express and share.
After finishing my exams and submissions, I decided to visit my family back in India. Before that, however, moving out of Blakeley Hall was challenging. I had to drag all my belongings into the basement of a house I was going to move into for the next academic year. After bidding good-bye to graduating friends and winding up some important chores, I was excited to fly back to India for a short visit. It was really special to go back home, as I was visiting after ten months. It was surprising to me that I got absorbed into the Indian way of life as soon as I arrived back home. I was eating street food, navigating through the thick Indian traffic, and meeting cousins and friends on the go. It was like I had never left India.
During my time in India, along came an opportunity for the summer, and I grabbed it with both hands. Professor Ian Johnstone offered me a teaching assistant (TA) position for a summer exchange program. Since I had never assisted a professor, there was a steep learning curve for me. For example, as a TA, I led review sessions — which meant I needed to review what I had learned myself during the last semester.
As I write, I am glad to share that I have settled in my new house, and I am enjoying my summer with some time for reading, cooking, swimming, and cycling, meeting friends, and traveling in and around Boston. I hope to share again towards the end of the summer!
This week I’m going to wrap up the end-of-year updates from our Student Stories writers. We’ve already heard from Mariya and Pulkit’s report will appear later this week. Today we’ll hear from Adi, who is back in Indonesia for the summer.
Just like that, I finished my first year of graduate school. In a typical two-year graduate program, the most common question at the end of the spring semester is, “What’s your plan for the summer?”, which is really saying “Do you have an internship or not?” Of course, there are people who are not doing an internship this summer. They might be using the time to do research, work on their Capstone Project, travel, or relax before the start of another intense academic year. But my sense is that when my classmates asked me the question, what they really wanted to know was what internship offers I had or hadn’t received.
I know I found myself asking that same question to others with the same intention in mind. As I carried out my search, there were many reasons why I asked. Getting inspiration on where else I could apply or tips on how my classmates successfully secured those internship offers, or simply to calm my nerves that someone else out there also hadn’t yet solidified their summer plans.
I remember that, at the beginning of the year, many of the second-year students assured the first years that we should not worry — by the end of the spring semester, everyone would have solidified their summer plans. They told us that some students will receive an offer earlier than others, but this is not due to their qualifications. It is simply a reflection of the different timelines of hiring companies, and the wide variety of interests of Fletcher students. Investment banks and management consulting companies finish their hiring in the fall or early spring. Many multinationals and international agencies do not start accepting applications until midway through the spring semester. Other companies simply accept internship applications throughout the year until they hit their quota.
Nonetheless, we first years couldn’t help but stress out a little about getting an internship, so we tried to start as early as possible. Right from the beginning of the fall semester, I approached quite possibly every single resource that I thought could connect me with an internship opportunity, starting with the obvious, the Office of Career Services (OCS). I met with Elana Givens, the OCS director, to talk about my interests and start planning out my internship search strategy. I attended many coaching sessions led by OCS staff throughout my first year. I approached Dorothy Orszulak, Director of Corporate Relations for the Institute for Business in the Global Context, to ask what exactly hiring managers in the private sector are looking for in internship candidates. I met with Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti and Kristen Zecchi to find out how previous MIB students leveraged their degree to identify internship opportunities. Professors were also fantastic resources. It is through my discussions with Professor Jacque and Professor Schena that I found many ideas on organizations and people to reach out to. And then, of course, there was the structured Professional Development Program curriculum to help me with my résumé and cover letter, making informational interview requests, and acing interviews.
After laying the groundwork with these resources, I started expanding my network. My first thought was the second-year students. Through casual conversations, I managed to figure out who interned where in the previous summer. Then, I followed up on the conversations with an email asking if they would be willing to chat over coffee about their experience, both the internship search and the responsibilities of the position. It was fascinating to hear their stories. One student interned at a venture capital start-up in Seattle that did not have an official internship pipeline. He simply cold-emailed the company, explaining his background and his interest in working for them over the summer, and luckily that is where he ended up. Another student leveraged multiple contacts to reach a very busy director of a tech start-up in Kenya, who then replied “I just received two separate emails referring you to my company. Let’s talk.” These are only two of the many interesting stories I heard by talking to second-year students.
I had started the fall semester looking to pursue an internship at a management consulting company. From the onset, I had heard warnings that even getting an interview would be extremely hard for non-MBA candidates. I reached out to every single person I could who was even remotely connected to the consulting industry. I worked together with my classmates to practice case interviews. I attended workshops and webinars about the consulting industry. During winter break, I received invitations for first-round interviews with Bain and BCG. In the end, I didn’t make it over the final hurdle at either organization, but I am thankful to have gone through the experience. I definitely think that I wouldn’t have had that opportunity had I not reached beyond the companies’ online application portals.
In the end, it all worked out. The advice from second-year students at the beginning of the fall semester turned out to be true. We all ended up with a satisfying summer plan and my first-year MIB cohort has embarked on our respective summer journeys. It may not have been what we thought we would be doing when we started planning, but some of us ended up with something better. As for me personally, I ended up joining Citibank’s Commercial Banking team for the summer and I’m definitely enjoying the challenge.
What a journey it has been! I’m already looking forward to regrouping with my classmates for our second year.
Continuing to shamelessly take advantage of the rare summer when we have a student or recent graduate working in the office, I asked Rafael to tell us about his experience with the International Security Studies Program. Here’s what he had to say. (Note that we all use “international security studies” to refer, alternately and confusingly, to both the Field of Study and the program that offers out-of-class programming.)
Jessica asked me to write about security studies at Fletcher, and this is a great opportunity for me to reflect upon my 21 months as a MALD student. One thing to note, though, is that I can provide only my own perspective, simply because there is so much to experience and learn here in security studies and related fields.
But first a little bit of history.
Though the study of peace and security had been part of the Fletcher curriculum since its founding in 1933, the International Security Studies Program (ISSP) was formally established only in 1971, at a time when the U.S. was deeply divided by the Vietnam War. Since then, course offerings and research interests have evolved as the global political landscape has changed. Professor Richard Shultz, Director of the ISSP, and Professor Robert Pfaltzgraff reflected on the ISSP’s history in a special edition of The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs on the School’s 80th anniversary back in 2013.
In 2000, under the leadership of then Dean John Galvin, who, like the current Dean James Stavridis, held the post of Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Fletcher founded the Institute for Human Security (IHS), currently led by Professor Eileen Babbitt. IHS brings together students and faculty specializing in areas as diverse as law, politics, public health, psychology, and economics to conduct cutting edge research, education, and policy engagement on today’s global challenges, with an ultimate focus on the well-being of all human beings.
The most recent institutional addition to security studies at Fletcher is the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS). Established just this year by Professor Monica Toft, CSS aims to generate cutting-edge scholarly analysis that broadens the U.S. foreign policy debate. Having just graduated, I will sadly miss the great research and programming through which CSS will enrich the Fletcher community. Fortunately, during my last semester, I had the pleasure of participating in Professor Toft’s half-semester seminar on Current Topics in International Relations and Security Policy. Because the course allowed me to revisit many topics I had studied over the prior two years, it provided a nice conclusion to my career in security studies at Fletcher.
But as for so many ISSP folks, it all began on a Monday morning at 7:45 a.m. in The Role of Force in International Politics, the core course of the International Security Studies Field of Study taught by Professor Shultz, and a tour de force through the conceptual foundations and history of security studies as well as an introduction to U.S. security policy. The following spring, I audited Policy and Strategy in the Origins, Conduct, and Termination of War (commonly known here as “Shultz II”), a history of war from Thucydides to Frederick C. Weyand.
To complete and complement my security studies curriculum, I took The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs, which teaches students empathy, detachment, and skepticism in their reading of historical events, Religion and Politics, and Nuclear Dossiers: U.S. Priorities, Dilemmas and Challenges in a Time of Nuclear Disorder. I also took the opportunity to venture beyond Fletcher and cross-registered for several courses at Harvard.
While the above-mentioned courses fulfill International Security Studies Field requirements, others allowed me to tailor the curriculum to my interests. In Gender Theory and Praxis, I researched masculinities and private military and security companies. In The Art and Science of Statecraft, with a group of fellow students, I developed an index to predict state instability in light of refugee flows.
The extensive course offerings, however, reflect only one aspect of the Fletcher experience. The ISSP, IHS, and soon, the CSS also provide opportunities for experiential learning and interaction with seasoned practitioners. For example, Fletcher is home to an annual crisis simulation, SIMULEX, where student teams, mentored by senior military officers, manage various conflicts that compete for their attention. ISSP also hosts several military fellows from throughout the U.S. armed forces, and organizes regular luncheons on all things security. Students themselves run several organizations such as Fletcher Students in Security, Fletcher Veterans, the New England chapter of Women In International Security, and the Fletcher Security Review. And finally, Fletcher is the home for the World Peace Foundation, which conducts research and offers programming of interest to security studies students.
Additionally, students may work with professors as research or teaching assistants. I had the pleasure of supporting the ISSP as a research assistant throughout my time at Fletcher, examining conflict escalation and coalition management in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific-Asia region. I also got to serve as a teaching assistant for Professors Shultz and Pfaltzgraff’s GMAP course on Security Studies and Crisis Management — a terrific opportunity to interact with senior-level practitioners from all over the world — and Professor Pfaltzgraff’s International Relations: Theory and Practice. Though I was lucky to find a job at Fletcher right after arriving here, many students eventually, for a semester or two, work as research or teaching assistants. Whether the positions are formally announced or informally arranged, if you are interested in working at Fletcher, be pro-active about it and ask. Even if nothing is available at the time, at least professors will remember you and might get back to you when an opportunity arises.
When it came time for me to decide which graduate school I wanted to attend, Fletcher’s diverse and flexible curriculum, the School’s location, and the strong sense of community ultimately led me to Medford. I believe that these aspects are equally reflected in security studies at Fletcher, with its close relationship with other schools in the area, and the friendships that emerge between students, faculty, administrators, and military fellows.
Tagged with: ISSP
Way back in May, a ceremony took place to present the 2017 Presidential Awards for Civic Life to Tufts undergraduate and graduate students who have made an impact on the community. For about a month, I searched for the photos or videos from the event that I thought would be shared. Then, well after I had given up searching, there they were! You can certainly argue that an event from two months ago isn’t news anymore, but it’s always nice to shed light on someone, particularly someone who has been honored for service.
In the video below, watch Dean Jerry Sheehan introduce Ammar Karimjee, a 2017 MIB graduate, at about 1:01. And then watch Associate Director of Student Affairs Katie Mulroy introduce 2017 MALD graduate Angga Dwi Martha at about 1:11. Or, if you don’t feel like scrolling, you can go directly to the videos for Ammar and Angga.
You can also read here about what Ammar, Angga, and all the other recipients, contributed during their time at Tufts.
As I’ve often written before, work at Fletcher in the summer has its own rhythms. The School remains quiet from late May to early August, but we’re not “un-busy.” We all have a variety of projects going and that’s before we start the serious prepping that precedes the fall semester. Meanwhile, because admissions folk tend not to take much vacation time from September to May, we’re all in and out of the office. I’ve been taking Mondays off, which has made a mess of my usual blog patterns.
When I reported back to work yesterday, I heard the quiet hum of voices around the Hall of Flags and near some of the lecture rooms. While I was enjoying a long weekend, students in the Global Master of Arts Program had arrived! These GMAPers will be on campus for two weeks completing their yearlong program, including submitting their Capstone Projects. Then, on July 31, a new GMAP class will arrive for their first two-week residency.
(For those unfamiliar with the GMAP format, students (who are mid-to-senior-level professionals) bracket their program year with two two-week sessions at Fletcher. In between the sessions, their fall and spring semesters are delivered via internet-mediated instruction, punctuated by an additional two-week residency out in the world. The photo to the right shows the program in Abu Dhabi in 2014.)
The truth is, GMAP students have little contact with students in Fletcher’s traditional residential programs. But after they graduate, GMAP alumni forge the relationships with the larger community that characterize the Fletcher family experience. They join alumni clubs, attend reunions, and have proven to be strong supporters of MALDs, MIBs, etc., creating the connection that didn’t exist as they pursued their degrees on different academic calendars.
For now, it’s nice to have some company in the building, and we’re happy to welcome GMAP!
Tagged with: GMAP
Though many incoming students have already lined up their housing, I know that other folks are still searching or, even, just kicking off their search. Here’s some advice from Admissions Graduate Assistant Cindy, who conducted her housing search last summer.
During the few months before starting at Fletcher, one of my biggest worries was figuring out where I was going to live. At the time, I was finishing up a teaching job and living with my husband in North Carolina, so I was very anxious about trying to find housing remotely. I could only imagine what that process would be like for students living and working outside of the United States.
I learned very quickly that housing in the Medford/Boston area goes on and off the market at a fast pace, and websites like Zillow were not always helpful. As badly as I wanted to secure housing early on, trying to search for housing in March or April was unrealistic. That being said, I was able to start getting in touch with different realtors and learn about how to find an apartment that suited our needs and budget. After working with a realtor, we ended up taking a weekend trip to Medford in June, looking at a few places within our budget, and submitting an application for an apartment. We eventually moved to Medford in late July.
My situation is not exactly typical of Fletcher students; I wanted to find a one-bedroom apartment for my husband, my dog, and me, which was a difficult task. I would say, however, that it is much easier to find housing if you are open to the idea of roommates, so that you can split the rent. To find out current information about houses or apartments for rent, I would check out the Off Campus Housing Resource Center. On this site, you can click on the apartment listing spreadsheet which is continually updated throughout the year. (Scroll down for the latest listings.) There is also helpful information on trusted real estate agents, but keep in mind you often have to pay realtor fees if you work directly with a broker.
Another way of seeing what is available is getting in touch with current Fletcher students and finding out if they are graduating or relocating. If you’re not already connecting with people on the incoming student Facebook page, it’s not too late. Blakeley Hall, Fletcher’s co-ed dorm for single or married students not living with their spouse/children, is also an option, though by now the rooms will all be taken for Fall 2017. For those who have already reserved a Blakeley room, you’ll find it a great way to remain involved on campus and it has a special culture that its resident have developed over time.
Searching for housing can be stressful, but if you keep in mind the timing of your search as well as the options listed above, I’m sure you will find a great home. Good luck!
The Admissions Blog’s Student Stories writers are busy with their summer activities, but I have end-of-year reports from them to share. I’ll start with this post from Mariya, who pursued an outrageously busy schedule during the spring semester.
It’s hard to believe that my first year at Fletcher has come to an end. It feels like yesterday that I was meeting new people at Orientation, figuring out my classes, and making sense of my new community. Over the last ten months, a lot has happened; at Fletcher, in the United States, and around the world. The frequency of breaking news buzzing on my phone made it difficult at times to focus on my studies, but as any student or professor would tell you, consuming articles from a variety of sources is an important part of a Fletcher education. These unofficial “supplemental readings” became topics of discussion in classes and our homes, in the Mugar Café and on the Social List. In these spaces, we analyzed and debated world events in a way that challenged our long-held beliefs and pushed us outside our comfort zones. At those moments, I couldn’t help but be grateful. What a privilege it is to be a student now — to study history, to discuss the present, to prepare for the future, to think out loud and debate different ideas.
While the real world seemed to be in disarray, I was struggling to manage my own world at Fletcher. My second semester was especially challenging because I took six half- or full-semester courses including two at Harvard, audited three classes including intermediate Spanish, and was an active leader of three campus clubs. In this post, I’d like to highlight one of those clubs: The Fletcher Islamic Society (FIS).
When I arrived at Fletcher in September, I learned that FIS was not an active group. With others, I applied for club funding and we were able to re-charter it. The purpose of the Fletcher Islamic Society is to create a space that furthers the understanding of Islam in different social, cultural, political, ethnic, and spiritual contexts. By hosting speakers, engaging in community service, and facilitating open dialogue, our hope is to foster an environment where Islam can be understood in all its complexity and diversity. We collaborate with the Tufts Muslim Chaplaincy and the Tufts Muslim Student Association student group for recurring events such as Jummah (Friday) prayers and Quran recitation circles. This year, FIS was one of the direct beneficiaries of a new prayer room that allows Muslim students to pray in a convenient space and for others to meditate.
I would like to highlight a few events that FIS organized to give you an idea of the types of student-inspired programming that is a norm at Fletcher.
- In sponsorship with the Fares Center, we hosted Pakistani Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Rizwan Shiekh, who spoke to an audience of about 40 students about the “knowns and unknowns” of Pakistan from a security perspective. Pakistan is often a case study in Fletcher courses, and it was refreshing to hear a different perspective from a career diplomat about the role of the military in public life and foreign policy, as well as in diplomatic initiatives.
- Shortly after the 2016 election and the highlighting of the Khizr Khan family, FIS leaders sought to bring attention to Muslims serving in the armed forces. In partnership with the International Security Studies Program (ISSP), FIS invited to campus MIT Professor of Military Science Captain Nadi Kassim who delivered an engaging luncheon talk titled “Muslim Americans in the Armed Forces: The Story of a 1st Generation Palestinian-American.” This event was highlighted in the Muslim Chaplaincy’s Spring newsletter.
- Another popular event that FIS sponsored this semester was a panel discussion titled “Spooks Islam: Reflection on Intelligence, Counterterrorism and the American Muslim Experience.” In addition to sharing their experiences of working in counterterrorism as black Muslims, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim and Yaya Fanusie engaged students with career advice — and some students even landed summer internships with their organizations!
- In late April, FIS hosted an intimate coffee discussion with one of Fletcher’s distinguished alums, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, F90. Once the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Mr. Chaudhary shared anecdotes of his time at Fletcher and his diplomatic journey and advice for students as we navigate our futures.
Of course, there’s never a shortage of events to attend at Fletcher. But what I love about being a student club leader is the flexibility and discretion afforded to us in creating programming that we feel benefits the community. If there is something you want to see at campus, you can make it happen.
Aside from organizing and attending events, I had the opportunity to participate in some, too. For example, I performed my values speech from the Arts of Communication course at the spring Fletcher Faces of Community, presented my undergraduate research at Tufts’ South Asian Political Action Committee Symposium, and shared my poem titled “The Dream That Is” at the Spring Recital. The semester ended with the annual Diplomats Ball (or “Dip Ball” for short), which was the perfect way to top off the year. I’ve had an incredible time at Fletcher so far, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to enroll here. I’m spending the summer in Taiwan and Thailand — I look forward to writing to you from there!
I shared some news items last Friday, but here’s one that I missed. Tufts Collaborates is a program to foster collaboration among professors in different (and sometimes far-flung) areas of the university. For the coming year, Fletcher faculty members will be involved in three of the projects that received seed grant funding. The projects are:
EduNet: A Low Cost Communication Infrastructure to Improve Education in Developing Countries: Jenny Aker, Fletcher School, and Fahad Dogar, School of Engineering.
Effect of Climate Change on Household Drinking Water Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Avery Cohn, Fletcher School, and Amy Pickering, School of Engineering, with Graham Jeffries from Fletcher (Professor Cohn’s research assistant).
Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation: Kimberly Theidon, Fletcher School, with Dyan Mazurana, Fletcher School and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
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