Currently viewing the tag: "Outside the classroom"
Though it’s fair to say that Fletcher students are generally focused on their coursework and career development, they certainly don’t shy away from involvement in our surrounding community. About a week ago, Fletcher’s Ralph Bunche Society hosted local high school students for an introduction to international affairs. The Ralph Bunche Society’s mission is “to raise the awareness of the contributions that minorities and people of color have made in the field of international relations, and also to encourage students of color to consider educational and career opportunities in international affairs.” RBS members Ryo and Stéphane sent me this update.
Wait, you didn’t read about this in The Times?
Well, that’s because this decision was the result of an NSC simulation, modeled after Professor Martel’s annual simulations, completed by students in Fletcher’s very own ASEAN Auditorium. In one additional twist, the roles of cabinet secretaries were not filled by a group of bleary-eyed MALDs, but rather 11 ambitious, and somewhat nervous, high school juniors.
This exercise was just one part of the Ralph Bunche Society’s (RBS) three-part program to introduce Match High School students to careers related to international affairs. The students displayed their passion and aptitude during the simulation by not only enthusiastically presenting their positions to the President, a role assumed by Terrence Stinson, 2013-14 Fletcher Military Fellow, but also by the manner in which they tied U.S.-Iran policy decisions to domestic concerns and U.S. commitments in East Asia.
Prior to the simulation exercise, our Diplomat-in-Residence, Evyenia Sidereas, spoke to the students about the U.S. Foreign Service, and provided them with information about scholarship and fellowship opportunities to study foreign languages abroad and international relations in college. Additionally, Fletcher students and RBS members engaged in a brief dialogue with the Match High School students and described their pre-Fletcher experiences in international affairs. Judging by the thank you letter we received from the students’ teacher, we didn’t scare them too much:
The kids had a terrific time, and definitely came away with a much clearer idea about what further study in international relations might look like. Students at Match typically say they want to go into business, nursing, or engineering, so congratulations, because today two of my students told me that they are now considering studying politics. They both described the work as “exciting” and “cool” — no small feat! You were able to ensure the kids had a really eye-opening experience and the event has already had a great impact. I’m sure it will stay with them as they move on to choosing new paths for themselves in their education.
Just before classes ended, Liam and I discussed possible topics for his next blog post. He mentioned how much he has enjoyed the talks he has attended throughout the semester. Since I never manage to join these special events during the busy fall, this seemed like the perfect subject for him. Here are Liam’s observations.
As my first semester came to a close and I feverishly studied for finals and finish term papers, I took some time to think about my Fletcher experience to date and about the aspects that stood out for me. What has really impressed me is the access I’ve been privileged to have to senior-level leaders from throughout the world and the remarkably candid remarks they’ve made in guest lectures at Fletcher.
Early in the year, I was privileged to sit in ASEAN auditorium and listen to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia give a remarkable talk about cyber security and his country’s experience when faced with a massive cyber attack in 2007. President Ilves was incredibly engaging and straightforward, discussing what he sees as future security challenges for Europe, and I couldn’t help but be amazed that I was listening to a standing head of state give his incredibly honest opinions. You can get a sense of his perspective from his interview with Dean Stavridis.
As someone focusing on security at Fletcher, another incredible opportunity has been the International Security Studies Program’s luncheon series. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, discuss the challenges facing the Army over the next several decades and how he sees the Army adapting to that uncertain future. I heard Dr. David Chu, President of the Institute for Defense Analyses and former Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, discuss his ideas for a responsible drawdown within the Department of Defense, based on history. I’ve listened to General John Kelly, Commander of Southern Command, discuss the sphere and scope of his organization’s responsibility in Central and South America. And I’ve been able to hear Major General Bennet Sacolick, Director of Force Management and Development for the Special Operations Command, discuss the Global Special Operations Forces Network and the role Special Operations units can play in the ambiguous security environment we face. I might add that all of these events include an excellent free lunch (a must for busy graduate students) and truly invigorating discussions.
In addition to Fletcher events, I’ve attended some outstanding guest lectures within the greater Tufts community. From former Congressman Robert Wexler discussing his vision for a two-state solution in the Middle East, to Colonel Steve Banach explaining the use of design methodology to manage complexity and change, to Colonel Bill Ostlund calling in on videoteleconference from Afghanistan to discuss his brigade’s actions in Zabul Province, I’ve been exposed to an amazing breadth and depth of speakers.
Last, due to the reputation and variety of the amazing faculty here at Fletcher, my classes have included some incredible guest lectures. In one of the last weeks of the semester, we had a marvelous impromptu Skype session in my International Organizations class with Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu, permanent representative of Romania to the UN. And I would be remiss if I left out the multiple opportunities that Dean Stavridis provides Fletcher students to hear him speak on a wide range of subjects, ranging from security threats to the strategic plan for the future of Fletcher and Tufts.
Simply put, it’s been an incredible experience to date, both in and out of the classroom, and I consider myself truly fortunate to have had this exposure to policy makers in all walks of life.
Many Fletcher student clubs and organizations are designed purely with fun in mind. Case in point: Fermentation 101. But most students will also connect with an organization that links to their academic interests. Today, second-year MALD student, Dara, tells us about her work with an activity that goes beyond the walls of Fletcher.
Like many volunteers, I became involved with the Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP) in my first year at Fletcher because of my general interest in refugee issues. TU-RAP pairs newly arrived refugee families in the Boston area with groups of Tufts University students. The students visit the families’ homes regularly to lend a hand with anything the family members may need to orient themselves to life in the United States. I learned that this may include assisting with bill paying, helping children with homework, practicing English, or teaching the family how to use public transportation.
Aware that refugees can experience a great deal of difficulty assimilating into a new life and culture, I was really excited to join the program as a volunteer. My group was paired with a small family from Chad: a father (Caleb), mother, and a newly born, beautiful little girl. While the family spoke very little English, luckily two members of the volunteer group spoke moderate French. After being cut off from the support of their resettlement agency, and with the father unable to work due to a medical condition, the family was having a hard time meeting their basic needs. Fortunately, they received government food assistance and were permitted to stay free of charge in an apartment. All other material necessities such as diapers and transportation fees were hard to obtain, though.
Despite their difficulties, the family did the utmost to welcome us into their home. Each time we visited, we were provided with fresh fruit, soda and water. While there was not much we could do to help Caleb find a job, because of his condition, we did what we could. We practiced English with the family, helped them sort through mail, and brought over a French driving manual in preparation for Caleb’s road test. Once, we even helped to read and translate documents to enroll the family in health insurance. Completing the enrollment paperwork took the entire visit, but it was very rewarding to be able to help with something they needed so much.
While I’m sure our assistance really benefited the family, I think we as volunteers gained the most from the experience. Having a close-up look at the difficulties refugees face gave us an awareness of the gravity of the problem, and helped us to appreciate the conveniences of our own lives. What really affected me was how this family — completely uprooted from their country, isolated from their relatives, and placed in a foreign country where they neither speak the language nor know the culture — remains positive. Until this day, I speak often to my Chadian family and am happy to know that they consider me a friend. For me, TU-RAP has been a life changing experience. For that reason, I joined TU-RAP leadership this year to ensure that more students and refugees in need benefit from this program.
I like to follow the traffic on Fletcher’s “Social List,” the email list on which students communicate with each other about anything and everything. Since the start of the semester, the prime topic has been the buying and selling of textbooks and household items, but nestled between the “for sale” and “sold” messages were others that, together, paint a nice picture.
First, there are the calls for second-year students to sign up as “buddies” for the first-years. “Buddy” makes the arrangement sound so preschool — a more grown-up term might be “peer advisor,” because here’s how the Fletcher Buddy Program organizers encouraged new students to participate: “We will match you up with a second-year student, whom you can ask for advice on classes, professors, work/life balance, and much more!” Equally, the continuing students are offered the “chance to pass along some of your words of wisdom and advice, and get to know some of the awesome new members of the community.”
Then there was a job posting for tutors with the Fletcher Graduate Writing Program. Once the program is in full swing, the PhD student-director says the writing tutors “help students with all aspects of the writing process, including topic development, research management, consultation with professors, and preparation of the final draft.”
The return to an academic setting can be a challenge for many students who may have been in the professional world for several years. Supports such as the Buddy Program and the Graduate Writing Program help to ease the transition.
But Social List postings aren’t limited to support options. There are also opportunities for fun! The Fletcher Fútbol team seeks new players, writing, “It’s FLETCHER FUTBOL time once again! If you like to play soccer, or even run around like a chicken with your head cut off, we need you! This is Fletcher’s club team and we play other grad schools throughout the year. Each week we’ll play one game and practice twice, and we’ll have a lot of fun and camaraderie.” I’m a long-time fan of Fletcher Fútbol!
And the Fletcheros — Fletcher’s in-house band — are looking for new musicians:
A new academic year has begun. While reading about post-conflict reconstruction in country x, you find yourself wishing you could kick out the jams like you used to in your old band. But you’re too busy now, you say. Those days of sweating it out on stage and making all of your close friends bust out the electric slide are past, you say.
Think again, dear friend. For this September, your dutiful Fletcher cover band The Los Fletcheros is holding auditions for new talent.
For those of you unfamiliar with the group, for seven years a rotating cast of some of the most musically inclined Fletcherites has melted many a face with an eclectic mixture of rock, dance, pop, funk and R&B songs, both old and new. We generally play four to five shows a year at local clubs as well as the annual ski trip, and usually have a Fletcher audience of 300-400 people. Long story short, you do want to be in this band.
The Fletcher Social Lister, displaying all due cultural awareness, closed his email with, “Members of The Los Fletcheros, even those who do not speak Spanish, are fully aware of the grammatical incorrectness of the full name.”
There’s a student activities fair tomorrow. Between the fair and Social List emails such as the ones sent by the Fletcheros and the Fútbolers, there’s every opportunity for students to find their outside-the-classroom place at Fletcher, as well as supports for when they’re in the classroom.
In her final post today about the World Peace Foundation, Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the WPF Research Director and Assistant Research Professor at Fletcher, invites Fletcher students to become involved in the work of WPF. The first post, which described WPF’s history, appeared two weeks ago, and the second post, describing the World Peace Foundation’s current work and mission, appeared last Wednesday.
If you are interested in the work of the World Peace Foundation (WPF), there are a number of ways that you can get involved with us. You can take our classes — Alex de Waal is teaching a course on African Politics in Fall 2013 and Bridget Conley-Zilkic is teaching on Mass Atrocities in Spring 2014. Or you can attend our events, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on twitter (@WorldPeaceFoundation), and explore our website.
Access short, insightful essays by WPF staff and other global experts on our areas of thematic concern on our blog, Reinventing Peace. Among the essays are series on reclaiming activism, ending mass atrocities, conflict mediation, new wars, and more.
If you are reading this as an enrolled Fletcher School student (master’s-level or PhD) you can also participate in our annual student seminar competition. Each year we invite proposals from Fletcher students for a two-day seminar to be held on campus in February 2014. WPF seminars offer a rare opportunity for leading experts to engage in incisive, collegial, and sustained dialogue on the pressing problems of our day. The student competition enables Fletcher School students to frame an issue and interact with leading global experts on the topic of their choosing.
Past winning topics include “Western Advocacy in Conflict” (2012-2013) and “Drug Trafficking and Organized International Crime: Re-Framing the Debate.” (2011-2012).
The deadline for submitting a proposal is October 10, 2013. Full information about the competition is available on our website.
WPF also hires two research assistants to help with our work for each academic year. While the 2013-2014 positions are filled, look for new opportunities in the coming year. We also have a number of research projects that you can get involved with. This Fall 2013, we’ll be continuing our project on mass atrocity endings, which students can work on as an independent study.
Take a closer look at our website for more details, stay in touch with us, and we hope to meet you as the semester begins in September.
Continuing the internship theme that Roxanne kicked off for us yesterday, today we’ll consider the question of internships during the academic year. We’re often asked about the opportunity to pursue an internship alongside classes, and it’s slightly tricky to answer. On the one hand, YES, you certainly may pursue an internship! Absolutely! And many students do. On the other hand, it’s not the culture at Fletcher to push students out the door to those internships (except during the summer, of course). Like so many choices students make (Should I pursue a dual degree? Exchange semester? Language study? Cross-registration?), the decision on an internship depends completely on the individual student’s academic and professional objectives. There’s plenty going on at Fletcher and elsewhere on the Tufts campus — you won’t be bored if you commit yourself to two years of doing everything there is to do here. On the other hand, if you tell us you have an internship, we’ll tell you that we’re glad to hear you’re taking advantage of that opportunity!
All of that said, I asked current students about their academic-year internships, and here’s what I found out:
Bob, first-year MALD: I work as an intern with the Tufts Office of Sustainability, which is located just a short walk from the Fletcher School in Tufts’ Miller Hall. I spend around 10-15 hours here per week, and some of my work can be completed at home.
Nathan, second-year MALD: I have done work for two outside organizations while at Fletcher. The first, in my first year, was at a small governance and peacebuilding organization in Cambridge, about a 30-minute walk from campus. I worked 16-20 hours during the fall, and scaled back to 8-10 during the spring. It was enriching to combine the academic environment with a more applied one, but I had to work during normal business hours, which was inconvenient for scheduling study groups and meant missing other opportunities at Fletcher. This type of work comes down to balancing the experience (and need for extra income!) with the opportunities and community available on campus. I decided not to continue this during my second year. My second internship, which I’m doing currently, is a long-distance, on-my-own-time consultancy. This, of course, means more flexibility but less direct engagement with the organization and the material. It still involves sacrifice, but it’s less a cause of stress in my life, and I do appreciate having at least one toe in the real world while at an academic institution.
Justin, second-year MIB: I worked at Converse in Latin America strategy 18-20 hours per week this year. I was able to do my capstone on Converse’s three-year strategy for Brazil.
Marie, second-year MALD: I worked at Conflict Dynamics International for about 9 hours a week last fall and this spring.
Katie, first-year MALD: I have had an internship for both the fall and spring semesters of this year. It is at WorldTeach, an international education nonprofit in Cambridge (it was formerly affiliated with Harvard). The internship is 10 hours per week, or 40 hours per month.
John, first-year MIB: I intern with the U.S. Commercial Service (a division of the Department of Commerce). I intern at the downtown Boston office, 10-15 hours a week. My responsibilities include market research and creating market entry strategies for Massachusetts companies to export and expand operations overseas.
Michael, first-year MIB: I have been working at State Street this semester. I am in the enterprise risk management division, in the probability of default group. My group worked on calculating the counter-party risk of broker-dealers for regulatory purposes. It is very quantitative. I work approximately 15 hours a week, all on-site in downtown Boston. The internship is paid on an hourly basis, and I found it through a posting from Fletcher OCS.
Leila, second-year MALD: Last spring I did an internship at Mercy Corps’ Cambridge office. I worked 10-12 hours a week with the Director of Governance and Partnerships. My main tasks were to help with logistics for their Partnerships summit in Bangkok, and to conduct research for an internal paper on private-sector partnerships. I found out about the internship through an OCS email.
Albert, second-year MALD: I’ve been interning on the Governance and Peacebuilding team at Conflict Dynamics International both this past summer and during the year. The internship is focused almost entirely on research in the areas of governance and peacebuilding, particularly in Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia. I worked 16 hours a week last semester and am working 12 hours a week this semester, paid on an hourly basis.
Cherrica, first-year MALD, and Chris, first-year MALD both intern at CargoMetrics, downtown Boston, 10-15 hours each week, paid, and say: It’s a technology-enabled hedge fund founded by Fletcher alums. They prefer you to work in the office but on occasion they are flexible and allow you to work from home. Great office with several Fletcher grads and students.
In only four days, on Monday, April 15, Boston will host its famous annual marathon. In addition to well-known long-distance runners, you’ll find the Tufts Marathon Team, which includes a Fletcher squad. And one of the Fletcher runners is student blogger Scott Snyder.
Spring semester assignments are coming due and internship application season is in full gear, but I’ve also been concentrating on another yearlong goal — the Boston Marathon.
For the 10th year running (no pun intended) the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT), which consists of students, alumni and staff, will run to raise money for Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, mainly geared towards fighting child obesity. I had heard about the opportunity to run the marathon before I started this year, but didn’t realize how much fun it would be to train under coach Donald Megerle and with the team.
I ran my first marathon last summer in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and trained all over Asia — Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, and cities throughout China. I didn’t think training in Boston, with a bunch of people who run at different speeds, would be as interesting and fun as that experience. Turns out it has been even better and has given me an outlet outside of the classroom — like so many of the opportunities here at Fletcher.
During this training process I have spent my weekends running the actual course — from Hopkinton, through Wellesley and Newton, to downtown Boston — so I’ll start the race having run the whole route and knowing all those brutal hills. I’ve run Heartbreak Hill about six times; if you don’t know the myth/story behind it, you can view it here. Along with my training partner, fellow Fletcherite Morgan Lerette, I trained on the route twice with Greg Meyer, the 1983 Boston Marathon winner with a time of 2:09:00 and the last American to win it. We got to hear plenty of stories about training in Boston during those two runs — luckily he’s a good storyteller.
Running is a passion of mine, and along with the TMT, Fletcher also has a running club, if you are not up for running 26.2 miles in April. There are also numerous other clubs here that can fit with your own personal and professional interests. All these clubs are student run and are always looking for new leaders to take them over. They bring in renowned speakers, put on conferences, and most importantly, sponsor our weekly Social Hours (really, Happy Hours) to educate the student body on the issues of the day.
So, not matter how busy Fletcher will make you academically, you can always find time to put in hours working on something that may be different from whatever you are doing in the classroom. Or, if you are a very studious individual, you can build on your academic interests through your clubs focus.
Scott’s photo above includes from left to right, second-year MALD student Mario, head of the Fletcher running club, Marathon-winner Greg Meyer, Scott, and running-partner Morgan. Fletcher TMT runners, whose profiles can be found on the TMT page, are: Natalie Bowlus; Oscar Camargo; Katherine Ferrari; Jacob Fromer; Amy Heading; Alex Kaz; Morgan Lerrette; Brennan Mullaney; Tomo Nagasaki; Maki Nakata; Jane Phelan; Davie Wallsh; and Annie Wanlund.
In this installment, Student Stories blogger Roxanne shares some of the academic rituals she has started developing at Fletcher, including her experiences attending conferences and workshops in her field of study.
I have written about the “exhale” I associated with the feeling of semi-permanence that a two-year Master’s degree program afforded me, after a few years of relatively nomadic work abroad. In addition to the content of the learning, I looked forward to the rituals and rhythms of an academic life — ranging from establishing traditions as simple as having a favorite library desk (mine: on the 3rd floor by the windows) or having a studying playlist, to finding an academic mentor and crafting papers word-by-word and footnote-by-footnote. Academia differs from field work in conflict management not only on account of the different kinds of impact these sectors make, but also in terms of the lifestyles they entail.
In the past month, I have had the privilege of indulging in another beloved – or dreaded, depending on your level of dorkiness and/or outlook – academic ritual: the conference. The Fletcher School and Tufts at large are bursting at the seams with summits, conferences, and workshops this spring, but some of us have been traveling beyond this community as well. Shortly after the DC Career Trip, I went to New York to attend “Deconstructing Prevention,” a conference on the prevention of mass atrocities. What drew me to the event was a panelist list full of the authors whose work I footnoted regularly, and the practitioners of genocide prevention whose articles I have bookmarked for years. Therein, for me, lies one of the greatest sources of exhilaration about returning to an academic environment, after a few years as a practitioner of conflict management around the world: One can, even for a few days, be in the presence of, or in conversation with, the individuals who shape the direction of their field of work, study, and interest. What was previously a remote and theoretical study can become an interaction and a present conversation, in ways that humanize intellectual pursuits and spark curiosity.
In a sense, what I describe above is similar to the feeling I had when I arrived at my first field placement as a gender and conflict management professional in Egypt. At the time, I was craving a more intimate look into the questions I had been studying from afar, a diminishing of the distance I perceived between me and impact. Returning to academia – even if this is a temporary return – has cast new distance between me and field work, but has placed me closer to the minds who form much of the discourse in this field. A lot of the explorations remain theoretical in their content, but being in the same geographic area as many academics and practitioners has motivated me to ask more questions, establish more mentoring relationships, and seek to learn from and alongside anyone who can share their knowledge.
In addition to Deconstructing Prevention, I had the pleasure of attending “Advocacy in Conflict,” a terrific week of events planned by the Fletcher School’s World Peace Foundation. The public event and closed seminars drew together many human rights advocates, humanitarian personnel, journalists, and academics. Later this semester, I hope to attend a conference on gender and armed conflict, an event on public speaking, and a workshop on gender mainstreaming. Fletcher’s location in the vibrant academic community of the Boston area is conducive to these explorations. Additionally, Fletcher makes available a small amount of discretionary funding to students who wish to attend conferences, enabling us to learn from our peers and other institutions. Next time you see me at a conference, please do say hello!
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!
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