Continuing our return to spring break, along with yesterday’s post by McKenzie, today we’ll read about Tatsuo’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.  Fletcher offered a trek to this region, but Tatsuo will explain that he ended up joining students from Harvard Kennedy School for their trek.

Over the recent spring break, Fletcher students organized a Fletcher Policy Trek to Israel.  I applied for Fletcher’s trek, but I wasn’t accepted because there was a lot of competition for the available places; however, I had another opportunity to join such a trek to Israel, through Harvard Kennedy School.  Many events at HKS welcome the participation of Fletcher students.  I think that having access to the resources of one of the world’s largest universities is a big advantage of Fletcher.

In line with this, I eventually joined HKS’s Israel trek.  It was a little more costly than that of Fletcher because of the size.  (HKS’s trek had over 100 students, while Fletcher’s trek is limited to about 50 participants. The funding resources were about equal, which meant I needed to pay more.)  But the places we visited were almost the same and I was also pleased to make friends with enjoyable and interesting students from HKS and other Harvard schools.

I knew something about Israel and the neighboring Palestinian territories as a Japanese public officer and a student of international relations.  However, through the entire trek, I realized that knowledge from books (or the internet) is just knowledge itself.  Everything I saw, everywhere I went, and everyone I met were interesting, thoughtful, and impressive.

Tatsuo, Golan 2In an area of Israel near the Gaza district, we saw concrete-covered bus stops and other shelters to avoid rocket bombing from Gaza.  The IDF base at the Gaza border crossing had a very serious atmosphere.  On the other hand, in the Golan Heights, the other area fronting a conflict zone, we were surprised by the peaceful scenery.  We drove through an old Syrian Army headquarters, trenches, broken battle tanks, and dead villages.  We also saw an ISIS controlled town, Quneitra from the top of the hill in the Golan Heights.  The Syrian Army and ISIS are still fighting over the area, but UN peacekeeping officers seemed to be relaxed and welcomed us to take a picture with them.  There were also many tourists chatting and drinking coffee.  The contrast between the peaceful scenery, old military facilities, and the ongoing conflict area was very strange.

The wallThe contrast between the Palestinian areas and Israeli occupied villages in the West Bank was also thought-provoking.  Over the separation wall/security fence, we faced an undeveloped and struggling community.  Almost all buildings placed black plastic tanks to store water on the roofs.  The landscape with many steep hills seemed to be hard to cultivate.  By contrast, the Israeli villages were well developed, beautiful, and clean.  I had already understood that the Israeli people enjoyed well-developed lives, unlike those of the Palestinians.  But I was moved by the clear and sad contrast in very close vicinity.

When we walked around the old city of Jerusalem, the guide said we walked on the floor of the Jewish district and on the roof of the Muslim district at the same time.

Israel is very small country.  We could see the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv from the hills of the West Bank.  However, I was surprised by the power of Israel.  I don’t mean the military power.  There were modern and developed cities, well-maintained infrastructure, beautiful cultivated fields, and green forests.  I heard that most trees in Israel were specially planted, not wild.  Compared with other Middle East countries that I have been to, the land of Israel seemed to be an oasis in the desert.  I was impressed by the power but I also felt mixed emotions.  The oasis did not benefit the surrounding region and people, including the Palestinian people, unlike a natural oasis that can feed anyone who visits there.

Western WallWhile I was moved by such interesting but complex experiences, I also enjoyed the trek by swimming in the Dead Sea, riding camels, and of course, eating and drinking!  In particular, the region has a lot of historical sites.  Masada, the ancient fortress of Jewish rebels against the Roman Empire was one of the most interesting places for me.  I climbed the hill using the ramp that the Roman Army built for attacking thousands of years ago, and from the steep edge, I observed the walls and camps of the great empire.

The entire trek was a very nice opportunity for me.  Although I could always visit Israel by myself, on the trek I visited places that would be hard to go to if I went by myself.  I met people who are too busy to meet with a typical tourist such as Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister of the Palestine Authority, and Yair Lapid, the former minister of finance of Israel.  And I shared the time and my feelings with many interesting Harvard friends.

Now, I am still struggling to catch up on the tasks that I had to skip because HKS’s spring break was one week before that of Fletcher.  But the trek was surely worth the hard work.  If you will be at Fletcher next spring, I strongly recommend that you join Fletcher’s or HKS’s Israel Trek, or another interesting study trek that might be offered!

Tatsuo collage

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This week is April vacation week for Massachusetts school children, and I’m going to use that as my explanation for turning the clock back to the March spring break for Fletcher students.  Student bloggers McKenzie and Tatsuo will each describe their travels far from campus.  First, McKenzie writes about the trip she planned with friends.

Hey all,

I’m back from a brief blog hiatus these past few months and want to share an update from an amazing spring break trip I took at the end of March.  Along with five other Fletcher friends, I traveled to New Delhi, India for what was one of the more action-packed yet wonderful spring breaks I’ve had.

Before @ Holi

McKenzie, third from left, and Fletcher friends with their host.

After 22 hours of travel, our crew arrived in hazy New Delhi at roughly 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Unsure of the time and date, we hopped in a car sent by a classmate of ours who grew up in the city and we sped toward her family’s home, where we were greeted with hot showers and a wonderful, homemade breakfast.

Soon we loaded back in a car and headed just outside the south side of Delhi to a garment factory in Faridabad.  A classmate on our trip who previously worked at Gap arranged the visit, as the factory was the first in Gap Inc.’s network to launch the PACE (Personal Advancement & Career Achievement) program, designed to empower women working in the factory and and to provide leadership development to enhance their careers and build confidence.  After learning about the program’s origins, we met with some of the women who had attended the program and since advanced to line management positions.  Then, we got to tour the factory and see the production first-hand.  The experience overall was a lot to take in, but it was truly a Fletcher-esque opportunity.

Following the factory visit, we returned to our friend’s home in time to change and head to her cousin’s house to watch what we learned was a very important cricket match.  If my understanding is correct, India-Pakistan cricket matches of the type and level we got to watch are not very frequent, which meant the celebration was on par with some of the better Super Bowl parties I’ve heard about back in the States.  At around 11:00 p.m. that night, we returned home for some much-needed sleep.  And that was just the first day.

Group @ Taj MahalOver the next few days, we traveled to Agra and Jaipur to see several famous monuments, treat ourselves to some fabulous Indian food, and browse Jaipur’s famous fabric and other markets.  On Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to New Delhi in time for one of the greatest national holidays I’ve had the privilege to experience: Holi.

Holi is a Hindu religious festival that, from what I was told, celebrates the conquering of good over evil and the coming of spring.  The night before Holi, many people light a bonfire, which signifies the burning of Holika.  Our hosts also tossed wheat chaffs into the fire as a symbol of thanks for the impending harvest.

The next day, we had the opportunity to “play Holi” with our friend’s extended family, which consisted first of a short Hindu ceremony with all the family present.  The ceremony ends with some tame additions of colored powder to the foreheads of those present, after which the family moves to an outdoor courtyard and the fun really begins.  While you start the day in pristinely clean clothes, you end up covered in pink, blue, green, yellow, red, and orange dye – in your clothes, in your hair, on your face, and in my case even in your contact lenses (one of mine was bright yellow!).  Fletcher does HoliEverywhere.  I promise, it’s a great time.  The most wonderful part of Holi is that truly everyone participates.  Young and old, men and women, everyone joins in and plays.  The kids of the family even developed a full attack plan complete with code words: they hoped to distract us by shouting “hamburger!” then lure us “with words” to be subsequently doused by water balloons and water guns.  I suppose they have a few more years to learn the finer points of diplomacy and international affairs…

Holi traditions - dye barrelThe day culminated in what has to be a family-specific tradition: each of us in turn was dunked in a barrel drum of homemade, bright yellow flower dye.  Even three weeks after Holi, there were still minor tints of that yellow in my hair.  It was a great reminder of a wonderful trip, and is a great example of the many ways that Fletcher students contrive to fill their time with enriching yet adventurous trips during their time away from school.

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April 20.  The day when admitted students need to tell us their enrollment plans.  Quite a lot of people have submitted decisions already, but an unsurprisingly large number have not.  That’s fine.  Take your time.  You have until 11:59 p.m. EDT (UTC -4) tonight.

If you need one last piece of information on “Why Fletcher?”, perhaps these videos would be helpful for you.  Note that there are additional videos hiding behind the degree program tabs about halfway down the page.

Thursday starts a new chapter for the Admissions Office — one that includes only enrolling students and that is marked by less overstuffed inboxes.  It’s nice when those people who were once only applications to us become real future students!

As ever, please contact us with your last-minute questions!

 

For the last few years, Dean Stavridis has written a blog and he occasionally includes video interviews with members of the community.  I figure the interviews could be interesting for prospective students, and I’d like to simplify your search, if you’d like to watch them.  Here are all of the video interviews that the Dean conducted with Fletcher professors, plus a few extras.

2013-2014

Alex de Waal:

Jenny Aker:

Kelly Sims-Gallagher:

Richard Shultz:

2014-2015

Bhaskar Chakravorti:

Eileen Babbitt:

Michael Glennon:

2015-2016

Leila Fawaz:

Sulmaan Khan:

Edward Schumacher-Matos:

Sung-Yoon Lee:

And here are a few “bonus tracks”:

Banafsheh Keynoush, Fletcher alumna:

President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves:

Mohamed ElBaradei, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency:

Dina Dara Miren, a current MALD student:

Patrick Meier, Fletcher alumnus:

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Two of the Admissions Office’s favorite students will be spending much of today running the Boston Marathon.  Moni, who is also an Admissions Graduate Assistant, and Niko are the only two Fletcher students on the Tufts Marathon Team this year.  They have been training and fundraising for months and, last I checked, were feeling confident.  It will be warm today, but the breeze off the water may keep the runners cool.

Many other students will be heading out to the race course to cheer them on.  Because really, running Boston for your first marathon is awesome.  Registered to participate are 30,000 runners — most of whom met the required time standard, with about 5,000 running to raise funds for charitable organizations.  Niko and Moni, like other members of the Tufts Marathon Team, are raising funds for “nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts University, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.”

So give a cheer for Moni and Niko, Fletcher’s own marathoners!

Moni and Niko

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Returning to the Class of 2015, Owen Sanderson was a two-year Admissions Office regular, spending time in the office as a volunteer, a paid member of the Admissions Committee, and a good source of conversation.  He was the first person I reached out to when I was looking for a helper for an APSIA graduate school fair in New York last September, and he’s the only student with whom I ever discussed options for engagement rings before he proposed.  His post-Fletcher career is typical in that it’s atypical.

“Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room,” cautions Paul Bennett the Chief Creative Officer of IDEO.  “The conventional heroic leader is a product of the past.”  Cleverness is not a ticket to success at IDEO.

Paul is right.  Despite the deep well of talent at my new employer, IDEO.org, I’ve observed that success here is fueled by one pervasive approach: a commitment to collaboration.

TODAY

Sanderson_FletcherBlog_1I write as I embark on my fifth month at IDEO.org’s New York office.  IDEO.org is a non-profit design and innovation organization associated with its celebrated Silicon Valley brother IDEO.  As a Business Designer — a unique role that blends business sensibilities with thoughtful design — I have seen firsthand how collaboration inspires seriously impressive results.  But this isn’t necessarily news to me, as group work is part and parcel of life at The Fletcher School.

Between 2013 and 2015, I spent two years at Fletcher preparing myself for a pivot into the design world.  Unconventional?  Perhaps.  Effective?  Definitely.  I have always had a decent grasp of international development, having studied it at Georgetown University and having worked in the field for nearly a decade.  However, Fletcher offered an opportunity to consider a contemporary approach to problem solving: Human Centered Design (HCD).  HCD is a creative practice that focuses on people rather than process.  The goal of HCD is to research, design, and build solutions, all while maintaining deep empathy for the women and men you’re designing for.

As a Business Designer I look to design solutions that aren’t just beautiful but viable in the emerging markets in Africa and Asia where IDEO.org works.  Life as a Business Designer takes many forms — from conducting user research to considering a market entry strategy for a new social enterprise to building partnerships with local NGOs to ensure programmatic sustainability.  It is exciting, fast-paced, and challenging.

BEFORE FLETCHER

So how did I navigate to this sweet spot between design and development?  My journey started at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.  CSIS was hands-down the best first job out of college.  I highly recommend spending at least a few years at a DC think tank.  You’ll learn to write.  You’ll participate in incredible events.  You’ll have access to world-class personalities.  And you may even work down the hall from former statesmen Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski (I did!).  Perhaps most importantly, it was through this job I also met my future wife.  We get married in July—and I am positively joyful.

Following two years at CSIS, I sought to tone my quantitative muscles.  Management consulting called.  I spent three years at Deloitte Consulting, working alongside clients from USAID, the State Department, and beyond.  I dedicated my last year at Deloitte to an internal project that examined the intersection of government, the private sector, and this new thing called social entrepreneurship.  I cannot thank Deloitte partner Bill Eggers enough for exposing me to such interesting work.

AT FLETCHER

After five years away from school, I felt the pull.  Fletcher called.  I distinctly remember visiting the Hall of Flags as a high school junior on a college tour with my mom.  I remember being inspired.  How was I to know that ten years later I would be a temporary fixture in the Hall myself, particularly during Social Hour — Fletcher’s weekly gathering of minds and hungry grad school bellies.

At Fletcher, I focused on reconsidering the international development sector, uncovering new, innovative ways to tackle thorny poverty challenges.  I was attracted to courses like Kim Wilson’s Financial Inclusion and Bhaskar Chakravorti’s Strategy & Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business.  I refined my consultative approach in Rusty Tunnard’s Field Studies in Global Consulting — and then served as his teaching assistant during my second year.  And I put theory to practice by spending my Fletcher summer in Nairobi, Kenya at the iHub, a co-working and innovation collective.  While there I wrote my capstone on Nairobi’s tech ecosystem and then taught this capstone to Kim Wilson’s class in 2015.  Both my internship and my capstone propelled me into my current gig as a Business Designer.

AFTER FLETCHER

And so now I’m at IDEO.org.  It’s tough.  It’s dirty.  But it’s oh-so-rewarding.  Last month I spent two weeks in Kakuma, Kenya, a 24-year-old refugee camp with approximately 185,000 residents.  Read that sentence again.  A refugee camp.  A 24-year-old, temporary place of sanctuary.  But nothing is temporary in Kakuma.  It is a permanent city.  Our team touched down in Kakuma to rethink (and frankly, redesign) how refugee teachers access professional development services.  With average class sizes of over 100 students and a serious lack of material resources to support teaching, these refugee teachers are eager for support.

I went to Fletcher to learn how to solve big, hairy problems like those I saw in Kakuma.  I am at IDEO.org to solve them.  However, a lone wolf won’t solve these challenges.  As Paul Bennett said, the smartest person in the room won’t have the solution.  Paul is not alone in this belief.  He has advocates across the world, including in Kakuma.  During our second week in the refugee camp, a teacher suggested that problems in the camp are never resolved alone: “We work as a team.  No one is cleverer.”  From Medford to New York to Kakuma, collaboration appears to be the name of the game.

Sanderson_FletcherBlog_3

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The Hall of Flags is Fletcher’s town square, its crossroads, its living room — everyone walks through at some point during the day.  A highlight of my year comes when I grab my computer and my ace co-pilot, Kristen, and head out to the HoF to talk with whomever we see.  Students, staff, faculty — we don’t hesitate to keep them any of them from getting their work done, or even from crossing the Hall of Flags on the way to the door.  We started our HoF time by scanning the scene to choose our first conversational target.  Our topic for the day:  Tell us something noteworthy about your year at Fletcher.

There’s often a student staffing a table at which tickets to an event are sold.  A perfect place to start.

Carmyn, second year student pursuing dual degree with the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna (selling tickets for Americana Night):

One of the most noteworthy things for me this year were the guest and visiting speakers that came to Fletcher.  For example, I kicked off my year by attending a luncheon lecture as a part of the International Security Studies lecture series, and heard from General Petr Pavel, the Chairman of the Military Committee for NATO.  In addition, the Fletcher Security Review has also hosted some really amazing and highly experienced professionals as guest speakers.  I feel very invested and involved in the fields that I am studying.  There are so many engaging things here at Fletcher, so it’s really great to have those opportunities on the academic side, as well as many possibilities to attend social events led and organized by students.  Aside from that, just getting to know people at Fletcher has been great.  The student body here is phenomenal.

Carmyn, HoF1 

Helen, Associate Director of the Office of Career Services:

We have ten new Blakeley Fellows!  Jerry Blakeley very generously has given $50,000 for the summer of 2016 to support ten first-year students doing internships in developing countries, focused on microfinance, private sector development, public/private partnerships, NGO business development, and project financing.

Although there are other sources of funding for summer internships, this amount can significantly defray expenses for these unpaid internships.  Countries that students will be working in include Uganda, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Malawi, Indonesia, and India.  This is the ninth summer that the Blakeleys will be supporting students doing these types of internships.

Helen, HoF
Helen is such a good sport that she let Kristen convince her to come looking for us!

Halley, Staff Assistant for the Office of the Registrar (just completing her first year at Fletcher): 

It’s been really amazing meeting and interacting with so many students from all over the world and so many cultures and backgrounds, getting to know them throughout the year, and seeing them succeed academically and thrive at Fletcher.

Halley, HoF
Not content to interrupt one person at a time, Kristen and I set our sights on a study group.

Peter, second-year MIB:

I’m involved in the Fletcher Social Investment Group — one of the leadership members — and we had the opportunity to present at the CEME Fellows meeting and to get their feedback, and to share with the external Fletcher community what we’re up to.

Preetish, second-year MALD:

My entrepreneurship class in Energy, Entrepreneurship and Finance, which is what we’re currently working on.  The way energy and finance comes together in class is interesting.  I’m looking for a career in this field.

Peter:  The professor (Barbara Kates-Garnick) is also the former Commissioner of Energy in Massachusetts, so it’s really interesting.

Harper, first-year MALD:

I like the flexibility that the MALD program provides so that you can take a class like Energy, Entrepreneurship and a class like Role of Force in the same semester.

Peter group, HoF
Why interrupt only one study group?  We moved on to what we thought was another.  Turned out it was three people simply chatting together.  Nate and Cristina were both volunteer interviewers for Admissions in the fall!

Nate, second-year MALD:

It was definitely the media communications panel from the DC Career Trip, because it was very encouraging to interact with so many alums who work in a space that I’m actively pursuing a career in.  I appreciated that they did such a great job relating their Fletcher experience to their career paths and also how enthusiastic they were about making time in their day to encourage aspiring students to follow their career path.  At the panel, there were representatives from The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Inter-American Development Bank, FCW, and the Glover Park Group.

Marc, mid-career MA student:

One of the more noteworthy events?…I hate to follow and say the DC Career Trip, but in particular, I attended a small session on conflict and violent extremism at the State Department with a number of officials, and it was a good opportunity to talk about the profession, and it dovetailed with classes here.  It reminded me why I came here.  I previously worked for Chemonics, but I want to get into CVE, and it’s great to know that there are a lot of people from Fletcher doing cutting edge work in that field.

Also, I’ve taken classes in urban planning and GIS – it was a great opportunity to tie in those topics that I may not have been able to study elsewhere.

Cristina, first-year MALD:

International Negotiations with Professor Babbitt.  She’s a very dynamic professor and her command of the subject matter is impressive.  She really knows how to teach, too!

Nate group, HoF
Next I saw a familiar face from the PhD program.

Liz, MALD ‘94, PhD ’16 (who told us she was visiting Fletcher to guest lecture for Professor Conley-Zilkic’s class on Understanding Mass Atrocities):

I successfully defended my thesis in December 2015.  Since then, I’ve continued my work with folks in the U.S. government — specifically advising on the policy stance toward the current crisis in Burundi.

Liz’s dissertation title:  “Securing the Space for Political Transition: The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in Burundi.”

Liz M, HoF
We chatted a bit more with Liz about how earning your PhD is a very big deal, and then she was off to her guest-lecture gig.

With that, we decided it was time to head back to our day-to-day work.  We’ll be back, Hall of Flags!  Until then…

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There was a time, way back in the day, when the Admissions Blog was just about the only game in town.  Now the School and its various programs/groups maintain multiple Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and even other blogs.

The LLM program, for example, has had its own blog since the start of this academic year.  Though not all the information they share pertains to students in all degree programs, it’s still worth a look!

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Following up on my post about the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, this happy news greeted me from my inbox last Friday.  The email came from Professor Weitz, Fletcher’s Entrepreneur Coach (and an alumnus).

Dear Fletcher community,

As Entrepreneur Coach, I am pleased to report that Fletcher startups did quite well in yesterday’s Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition.

A small, but loud, contingent of Fletcher students, faculty, and staff attended to cheer on our four Fletcher startup finalists:

Blue Water Metrics
PowerShare
Rashmi
Uliza!

The Blue Water Metrics team (Matt Merighi, F16, Caroline Troein, F13, Jack Whitacre, F16, and Sea Sovereign Thomas, F02) placed second in the Tufts $100K Social Impact Track, which translates into $7,000 cash in startup capital + $5,000 in free legal fees + free office space in downtown Boston.

The Uliza team (Grant Bridgman, F16, Abhishek Maity, F16, and undergraduate student Janet Jepkogei, A17) placed third in the Tufts $100K Social Impact Track, which translates into $3,000 cash in startup capital + $5,000 in free legal fees + free office space in downtown Boston.

Although they didn’t win any prize money, the PowerShare International team (Jamie Powers, F16, Tarun Gopalakrishnan, F16, Nathan Justice, A17, and Jack Whitacre, F16) and the Rashmi team (Rajiv Nair, F16, Sreedhar Nemmani, F16, and Alisha Guffey, F16) successfully competed with over 65 other Tufts startups to place as finalists in the Tufts $100K, which is a significant accomplishment.

Overall Fletcher startups represented 4 out of 6 finalists in the Tufts $100K Social Impact Track, showcasing teamwork of 14 Fletcher students and alumni.

Please join me in congratulating them today!

All my best,

Prof. Weitz

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With the Open House for admitted students now in our rear-view mirror, we’re looking ahead to April 20, the date when admitted students need to have decided whether to enroll.  This week and next, we’ll continue to take questions by email and phone, and to spend time with prospective students who visit campus.  It’s busy, but the real work is being done by the admitted students who are deciding what they want their graduate school experience to look like.  In only nine days, we’ll find out which students want their experience to look like Fletcher!

Along the way, we’ve offered several online chats.  In addition to providing an opportunity for admitted students to ask their questions, it’s a chance for the staff to sit together and chat while typing.  Students have joined us for each of the chats, and we enjoy hearing about Fletcher from their perspective.  At one chat, we talked around the table about apartment hunting and cricket playing.  A member of the Career Services staff has also joined each of the chats, and it helps us to know how they answer some of the questions that go their way.

For blog readers who have accepted a place on the waitlist, I’ll mention that there won’t be any action for a while still.  If you have questions, or if you would like to send us an update, now would be a good time to contact us.  In fact, I have two emails in my inbox right now from applicants on the waitlist.  (Answering them is my next task.)

I hope it’s helpful to learn what’s going on behind the scenes.  If you have questions you’d like me to answer, you can email me, or add your question in the comment section below.

 

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