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Every so often, I ask students for blog input — sometimes in the form of their own post, but other times I only want a sentence or two. That’s when I’m most likely to be surprised and impressed at how much energy they’ll put into something that advances my work but, to be honest, doesn’t do as much for them.
A week or so ago, via the Social List, I asked student organization leaders to tell me what their groups have been up to. An applicant had asked me about student groups, and I felt that what you could find on the web site or the the calendar listings doesn’t do justice to the richness of Fletcher student life.
This is the first of the posts in which I’ll share the responses I received, with credit to the student who sent each update. They’re in no particular order, but I hope that together they’ll give blog readers an idea of the many activities that enrich the academic and social life of Fletcher students.
The Fletcher Youth Initiative is focused on youth development and education issues both locally, here in Somerville/Boston, and throughout the world. This Spring we are extremely excited to be hosting our annual youth conference through which we reach out to local high school students and invite them to come to Fletcher, learn about the field of International Relations, and engage with current Fletcherites about how this diverse and dynamic field can impact their lives.
Seth describes two organizations:
This semester, the Social Business Club conducted a workshop on models for social businesses from around the world, and discussed their relative strengths and weaknesses. We hosted Daniel Fireside from Equal Exchange (oldest and largest Fair Trade company in the United States) at Fletcher for a discussion on financing and operations. Looking ahead to the Spring, students are organizing to participate in the Tufts Social Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest, with $50,000 available in prize money.
Students in the Fletcher International Law Society are writing an amicus curiae brief for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, focusing on the construction of dialogues in consultation as a means to resolve the conflicting obligations of protection for foreign investment and indigenous peoples.
The Latin America Group has been very active. First we organized a Symposium on Colombia and Venezuela Affairs with lots of great speakers, including Michael Shifter, the President of the Inter-American Dialogue. We also had a Latin American wine and cheese night attended by about 40 students. We hosted a talk by a Colombian labor leader about poor conditions at a mine in northern Colombia, run by a major foreign company, that provides much of the coal that fuels Massachusetts. Last, we screened the film Oscar’s Cuba, about Cuban prisoner of conscience Oscar Biscet and the human rights situation on the island, which included a live Q&A with the film’s director. Next semester we organize and host Latin Night!
The Foreign Language Conversation Club coordinates language tables for students who want to practice their conversation skills in English, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Arabic, and Japanese. The Latin America Group coordinates the Spanish and Portuguese sessions.
Jeffrey also writes about two groups:
The Fletcher Foreign Service Club (AKA Fletcher Diplomacy Club) meets to discuss the Foreign Service Exam process. Many of the Pickering Fellows and those who have passed the exam make it much less intimidating for us hopefuls. We even have practice sessions, and share knowledge on the career.
Tufts University Water Polo Club: Yes, it is the U, and not Fletcher-only, but it’s a club sport, so grad students are eligible. I’m passionate about the sport, and it helps keep me balanced against the academic load. Plus, the undergrads here love our involvement and it’s a great way to branch out into the greater Tufts community.
That’s all for today’s installment. More to follow later this week!
The following comes from Peter, who organizes our online chats:
As winter approaches and our various application deadlines grow near, you might be thinking more seriously about graduate school and starting to pull together the various pieces of your application to Fletcher. You may have a few questions to which you can’t quite locate an answer on our website, or perhaps you’d like to get a current student’s perspective on Fletcher life.
This week, we’re bringing together members of the Fletcher community to help answer your questions in two online forums. Joining those of us from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will be staff members from the Office of Career Services and the Office of Student Academic Programs. We’ll also have a small group of current students on hand, eager to tell you about their experiences at Fletcher.
To participate, visit this page at the dates and times listed below:
Tuesday, December 7th, 9:30 to 10:30 AM (EST)
Thursday, December 9th, 12:30 to 1:30 PM (EST)
If you are unable to participate this time around, don’t worry — we will hold additional chats in January. The dates and times for future chats will be announced via e-mail, so if you haven’t already connected with us, we encourage you to sign up here.
I’ve written, over time, about many Fletcher student organizations, such as Perspectives and Futbol. Students enrich their experience here with any number (sometimes a very large number!) of out-of-class activities, and the list of clubs and organizations looks slightly different each year, depending on student interests. But one organization to which I’ve given insufficient recognition is The Fletcher Forum. Quietly producing impressive publications for more than 30 years, Forum staffers don’t waste much time bringing attention to themselves. But today I’ve asked the Forum editor, David Reidy, to tell us what it’s all about.
As one of the few academic journals entirely run by students, we have our hands full putting together The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. Each year we publish two issues filled with pieces on the important topics of today, written by academics and practitioners around the world. It’s a demanding task, but an intensely rewarding experience.
Last year, our Editor-in-Chief, Naureen Kabir, raised the bar of success even higher, putting out three issues featuring luminaries such as Les Gelb, Hassan Abbas, Jendayi Frazier, Michael Jacobson, and Matthew Levitt. This year we are returning to our normal bi-annual schedule, but filling Naureen’s shoes is no easy task.
The process starts with soliciting articles. We contact authors for pieces based on the issues we think deserve attention, with a particular focus on collecting a diverse set of topics and opinions. The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs strives to encompass all regions and subjects, even those that don’t normally receive attention in academic journals. We also put out a general “Call For Papers,” which often leads to fascinating articles on topics we never even dreamed of covering.
Once we’ve collected plenty of pieces, we start the editing process. As a Fletcher student, it’s a joy to peruse the submissions, and I never fail to learn something new. Each article goes to an editing team and then back to the author, as part of a collaborative process to improve (or often just fine-tune) the piece before publication. At least two editing teams will examine each submission, and once everyone is satisfied with the product, it’s off to the printer!
Editing can be a long process, and the intermediary steps can seem never-ending, but in the end it’s all worthwhile. We take great satisfaction in producing a respected academic journal, and it’s always exciting to open the cover and see your own name on the masthead. Working at The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs has been once of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Fletcher, and that is no small feat.
One of the many things I love about our students is the way they add to their own work, to the benefit of the community. The other day, I checked out the Where is Fletcher? crowd map that second-year student Jessica Heinzelman set up. (Are we surprised that her own internship was at Ushahidi, which is building a business on this type of platform?) The map is still evolving, but you can already get a sense of the breadth of activities that kept our “vacationing” students busy during the summer months.
Along the same lines (vacationing students building the community), if you haven’t yet seen this very sweet slideshow, I hope you’ll take a look.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a few email requests for current students to help incoming students in a (typically) student-initiated arrangement, sweetly called the Buddy Program. I sent a note to Patrick Elliot, the organizer, and asked him to describe it for blog readers. Here’s what he wrote:
Let’s say you’re a new Fletcher student, and you’re about to start your first day of Orientation. You’re excited to start, but tired from unpacking, anxious about the new demands of graduate school, and not really sure what you’re doing — all at once. Fletcher’s Orientation will give you all the information you need to, say, register for classes online, but it probably won’t answer the big questions like: Which classes should I take? How should I buy books? Which parties are not to miss? What the heck is Social Hour anyway, and why should I care?
You can easily get answers to all those questions by asking any Fletcher student in sight — if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s offering opinions. But “course shopping” is fast approaching, and classes start the following day. What if you want to focus on, say, Non-Profit Management, and the students you’ve met so far don’t know much about it? Plus you don’t yet have home Internet, and it’s been, like, days since you last updated your Twitter feed…
That’s why last year, Jessica Smith F’10 started Fletcher’s student-run Buddy Program. Using Admissions Office info on incoming students and their proposed concentrations, the Buddy Program pairs two or three incoming students with a current student who shares academic and professional interests, but, more importantly, also knows the ins and outs of Fletcher. Now when you’re settling into Boston, picking classes, and trying to decide between a Green House party or staying home (really?), you have someone to ask.
As I alluded to earlier, the Buddy Program doesn’t replace the constant Hall of Flags chatter between Fletcher students about classes, professors, internships, jobs, parties, Boston excursions, and Best Practices in Free Food Procurement. But it gives you the right contacts at the right time — when you’re facing so many changes and decisions but don’t know a bunch of people yet. It’s one of many ways that Fletcher students (and staff) look out for each other.
I’m wrapping up the photo essays today. First, let’s hear from Roxana, whose Tufts roots run deep:
My photo is of ASEAN Auditorium, one of my favorite spots at Fletcher. My first exposure to ASEAN was as an undergrad when I took Introduction to International Relations. (I still remember the course number — PS 151!) It was one of my first college courses and the first time I had ever taken a class that large. The auditorium was a different color then (blue, I think), and the seats not as comfortable. Working at Fletcher now, ASEAN reminds me of Open House and the first day of Orientation, when the first-years file in for a welcome from Dean Bosworth. It also reminds me of Fletcher Follies, when Fletcher students, staff, and faculty have a great time watching skits and videos. ASEAN is where important lectures, guest speakers, and some classes are held. It’s a great space and recent renovations made it even better.
As for me, I was among the last to snap my photo. I’ve worked here for a loooooong time and I knew I could easily think of a bunch of special spots. I gave everyone else first chance to claim their favorite locations, and lucky for me, no one snagged my top choice.
This is a photo of a photo, from among a few dozen that are displayed (thanks to a recent graduating class) on a hallway wall. The subject of the photo is Professor Leo Gross. When I first started work at Fletcher, many many moons ago, Prof. Gross was still teaching. He was my link to Fletcher’s earliest days, as he had joined the faculty in 1944, only 11 years after the School’s founding. By the time we met, I knew he was no spring chicken, but I didn’t know how far into his 80s he was (and I certainly didn’t know he had been “retired” for many years). I would hear the enthusiasm of students who studied with him, and I was aware that his scholarly work was well celebrated. Now that I have worked here for so long, it feels very special to have this connection to Fletcher’s early history, and I’m glad that he’s remembered by students, faculty, and staff who pass his photograph each day.
Day after summer day, it’s easy for us to run only into other members of the staff (and not many of them). We might see the occasional student or alum who’s in the building to get something done, or maybe a professor (though I don’t think I’ve seen any member of the faculty in about three weeks). But, mostly, we feel like we’re alone in the building, just getting our work done.
In fact, though, there has been quite a bit going on here — if not always in full view. Summer School ran from May 24 to July 2, but with most of the classes starting late in the day, there wasn’t much opportunity to bump into the Summer School students.
Also in June, for a week Fletcher was the site of the Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict. The participants were so busy that we didn’t see them, either — except as they crossed the building en route from classroom to lunch or back.
For the past few weeks, there was a group from Mexico attending the Comparative Program on Adversarial Criminal Justice Systems, a specially organized executive education program in comparative law. I asked around before writing this, and found out that it’s quite the cool program. Prof. Basáñez and Prof. Aucoin are the resident faculty, but the group has heard from local judges and court personnel, as well as law faculty from Fletcher and other local law schools. A big part of the program involved site visits to local courtrooms. There were a total of 113 participants, primarily judges with a few other employees of the Mexican Supreme Court. The goal was to help them prepare for impending reforms to Mexico’s judicial system, by exposing them to the workings of adversarial criminal justice systems in other parts of the world. Interesting! I saw members of the group chatting happily during lunch a couple of times, but we didn’t have any professional contact.
Finally, this week, there’s a group of GMAPers attending their final residency. They’ll be here for a couple of weeks, but the program keeps them pretty busy during my working day. I’ve been catching some early-bird studiers in the Hall of Flags as I come into work in the morning.
None of these groups or programs has brought a crowd into the building, but knowing they’re around keeps us from feeling too lonely. Personally, I’m nearly at the point when I feel ready for students to return. I still have a lot on my to-do list and I’ll need more time to get it done. But I know that, come September, it will be nice to have a more populated building.
I’ll continue, today, with staff answers to the applicationesque question:
Take a photograph of a spot at Fletcher that is important to you. Describe the spot, and tell us why you chose it (200 words or less).
Liz tells us:
I chose to take a picture of the table outside Ginn Library as one of my favorite places at Fletcher. As with any New England town, Medford experiences its share of cold, snow, sleet, and ice in the winter months. Come spring, though, along with beautiful weather, budding trees and sunny skies, also comes the ability to eat lunch outside, which my fellow co-workers and I, along with Fletcher students, take advantage of. There’s nothing better than being able to take some time from a busy day to go outside and decompress a bit.
Jeff chooses to take a photo of photos in the Fletcher Perspectives Gallery.
The Perspectives Gallery is one of my favorite places to visit at Fletcher. This hallway truly embodies the spirit of the community. Students, faculty, and staff create photo journals of their time in various parts of the world while studying, working, or traveling for pleasure. When visiting the gallery I always learn something new and also reminisce about my own experiences. The same is true when speaking with current Fletcher students. Everyone I meet, through the admissions process or on campus, has inspiring stories to share. Fletcher is such a diverse place, and the Perspectives Gallery provides a glimpse into why the community is so special. Take a look at the Fletcher Perspectives website to see for yourself! Photographs from the exhibit can be purchased for $20, and all of the proceeds are donated to the UN Office of Children and Armed Conflict to assist with the rehabilitation of child soldiers.
When Laurie and I first joined the Fletcher Admissions Office, the application included an essay question that went more or less like this:
Imagine you have taken a picture of something that will help the Admissions Committee learn about you. Describe the item in the photograph. (250 words or less)
With that essay in mind, I gave my Admissions pals an assignment:
Take a photograph of a spot at Fletcher that is important to you. Describe the spot, and tell us why you chose it (200 words or less).
I hope the photos and descriptions will give you a little insight into us and our work. I’ll start them off today and continue in posts for the next week or so. First up, Peter, because his favorite spot connects to his earliest days at Fletcher.
The Edward R. Murrow Room featured prominently in my first impression of Fletcher, as it was where my interview was held almost four years ago, and it continues to be an integral part of my Fletcher experience. We hold most of our Admissions Information Sessions there and, in the winter, the Committee on Admissions spends the bulk of our Friday mornings discussing applications around the room’s big wooden table. We’re surrounded by Mr. Murrow’s plaques, awards, pictures, books, news clippings, and furniture — including my favorite item: his old leather massage chair. There’s a lot of history represented in this dark, cozy room and much to be learned from browsing the walls and bookcases. (Did you know that the term “Public Diplomacy” was actually coined at Fletcher?) Unfortunately for the photography portion of my blog assignment, the Edward R. Murrow Room at Fletcher is currently undergoing a major renovation: one that involves temporary removal of nearly everything (alas, even the chair), and covering the windows, walls, and light fixtures in plastic sheets.
Next up, Kristen:
This bland little corner and empty table aren’t very visually compelling, but they do represent something important about my work here and the culture of Fletcher more generally: our collaborative, personal approach to education. This is the meeting table in my office, and I spend a lot of time here. Very often, I will first meet around the table with students when they are just beginning to learn about Fletcher, and then again for a formal interview, and then many times more during their years at Fletcher. It’s a pleasure for me to be able to be a part of their graduate school process, from beginning to end, and I know my colleagues feel the same.
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