Currently viewing the tag: "Outside the classroom"

While it’s true that Fletcher’s Student Council couldn’t make a decision to, say, offer all students an A grade in every class, it does play an important role in representing students — their views and needs — to the School’s administration.  The Council is composed of first-year and continuing students, and there’s a rep for the PhD program.

Based on reports I’ve seen, the past few years’ Councils have been particularly active, and even hold office hours so that students can express their opinions.  True representative democracy!

But what would be the purpose of working hard on behalf of one’s constituents, if those good citizens of Fletcher never learned the results of the Council’s actions.  Creating awareness fell to Councillor Blake and friend, Lesley.  They channeled 2012′s big Oscar winner in this video report about the Council’s success in arranging after-hours availability of food and supplies — for students who can’t bear to leave the building.

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A few weeks back, a virtual Social List brawl nearly broke out among defenders of their favorite poetic tradition.  Yes, blog readers.  Fletcher students will take time away from case studies, thesis writing, extracurricular activities, and the job hunt to argue about Urdu poetry.  As I haven’t had a chance to do the discussants the courtesy of checking with them, I’m going to share the points of discussion without using names (but I can tell you that their cultural or national origins include Pakistan, India, Armenia, Iran, and possibly others).  Also, I don’t endorse any particular viewpoint (being ignorant on this great topic), and I can’t vouch for the accuracy of anything written below.  Plus, I haven’t included the many wikipedia links that were part of the discussion.  With all those disclaimers in place, the great Urdu Poetry debate:

Message 1
Dear Fletcher,
Tufts is organising an Urdu poetry recital on Thursday. Urdu is the language of the poets — that is why Urdu-speaking individuals (namely Pakistanis) are die-hard romantics.   If you are interested in the recital of some of the most influential and famous Urdu couplets — that were responsible for social movements and the spread of ideologies (including Communism), or were just some poor, talented, heart-broken dude venting — come to Cabot 702 on Thursday at 6:30 pm.

Also, we’re trying to find translations for most of the poems.  Another incentive to be there: Chai.  See you all there!

Message 2
From wikipedia:  “There are between 60 and 70 million speakers of Urdu:  There were 52 million in India per the 2001 census, some 6% of the population; 13 million in Pakistan in 2008, or 8%; and several hundred thousand apiece in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh.”

Clearly there are more romantics in India.

Message 3
Haha!  C’mon, let the Pakistanis have the upper hand in SOMETHING! And citing Wikipedia won’t convince me. :)

Message 4
…and the tradition of Couplet poetry in the subcontinent began when Persians fleeing Shiite conversion settled in the then Mughal Empire. Writing in Persian.  See: Kabir and many others.

Indians, Pakistanis: thanks for the upper hand :)

Message 5
Are you sure?  Kabir died in 1518.  The Mughals’ reign didn’t start until 1526 when Barbur came to power.  Besides, Kabir wrote in Hindi not Persian.

Try again.

Message 6
Yes, I am sure.  Even before the Mughals, the Ghaznavids and Delhi Sultanate were jampacked with Persian poets:  Amir Khusro, the father of Qawwali; Zeb un Nissa, daughter of Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.

Message 7
The reciting of couplets on the Subcontinent stretches back into far greater antiquity than mere mediæval Gunpowder Empires.  But the Persian tradition is beautiful, and among one of its many adherents who roamed the streets of Lahore and Delhi in the seventeenth century happens to be someone close to my heart.

Upper hand, anyone? Anyone?

Message 8
There actually wasn’t ever a real divide between Persian and Hindi/Urdu in the Subcontinent’s literary tradition.  Amir Khusro wrote in both Persian and Hindvi, as did many other poets of the Mughal era.  (Hindvi being the old version of Hindustani, which would eventually evolve into Hindi and Urdu).  Urdu poets still wrote in Persian, even after Hindi and Urdu developed their own formalized languages and literary registers.  One of the great 20th century Urdu poets, Iqbal, also had an extensive catalog of work in Persian as well.  My uncle studied Persian in school while growing up in Bombay in the 1950s, and he would apparently even recite Persian poems in his sleep (much to the chagrin of my father, who was sleeping in the same room).

The fact that this is a Social List debate makes me think that Fletcher should have a Persian/Urdu poetry night…we clearly have a constituency for it.  (I’m imagining dueling Persian-Urdu ghazals…)

Message 9
And I can add that the fact that there is such a debate on the SL makes me even happier to be here at Fletcher ;) You are incredible!  Have a great day. :)

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No one on the Admissions team is afraid of a little brain-straining hard work, but this has been a long week.  Most of us worked last Saturday, and one day of recharging wasn’t enough to ease the sense that we’ve been here continuously since who knows when.  Still, it’s satisfying to move the process forward to the point where we can see beyond the boxes in the back office and imagine interactions with admitted students.  If we can only finish the rest of the tasks still in front of us…

Meanwhile, Fletcher life goes on, and the week has been filled with activities.  Just yesterday, two illustrious alums visited to chat about International Economic Policy for the 21st Century.  Later in the day, Fletcher Students in Security (FSIS) offered pizza and discussion of “From Cadet Grey to Army Green…Reflections of West Point Junior Officers Since 9/11.”  And today, Fletcher is the site of the Tufts 5th Annual China-U.S. Symposium — or, as the organizers like to call it:  塔夫兹大学中美关系年会.  (I can read that, so I know it says what it’s supposed to.)

If only there were more hours in each day.  Sigh.

But we’re keeping our noses to the grindstone and getting it done.  Attending lectures and symposia will need to wait a couple of weeks.

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Planning to be in the Boston area this week?  Take advantage of this once-in-four-years opportunity to attend the Los Fletcheros Leap Day Extravaganza.  Fletcheros and fans will be gathering Wednesday, February 29 at Johnny D’s at 8:00 p.m.  Fletchero press releases claim that the “The Los Fletcheros Leap Day Extravaganza Event is one of the most highly anticipated events of Davis Square’s quadrennial celebration!”

Blog readers, don’t be disturbed by the Fletcheros’ tendency to overuse articles (“the” and “Los”) in English and Spanish.  And do consider attending.

I’m going to breeze straight past disappointing sports news from yesterday, and recall, instead, a happier weekend a couple of weeks back.  That’s when much of Fletcher relocated to the mountains of Maine for the annual ski trip.  I asked two students to describe the Sugarloaf experience.

Second-year student, Jenny, fills us in on the organization of the trip:

As a Fletcher student, I never get tired of hearing about the sense of community that students experience here at Fletcher.  In fact, this is what attracted me to the MALD program in the first place.  And now that I am a part of it, I completely understand what I had heard from Fletcher faculty, students, and staff.  Fletcher’s annual ski trip to Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Maine showed once again why the Fletcher community is so strong.

The annual ski trip is a student-organized event that you do not want to miss.  It’s a chance for all of us to stretch our legs, put down our books, turn off our computers, and get some fresh air during a weekend away.  The dedicated group of students who form the Ski Trip Committee work hard to organize and plan a trip that only strengthens the student community and creates great memories.  Even though the resort is huge, and we are spread out in various cabins, you will always run into a fellow Fletcher student on the slopes, in the cafeteria, in the rental shop, or even in the cabin right next to you.  In the evening, we all convene to show our support for our very own Fletcher band, Los Fletcheros, and share stories of skiing for the first time, falling hard on the slopes, or relaxing in the hot tub all day.  Needless to say, we all thanked the student organizers for planning a great event.

The ski trip is just one example of how students help build a tight-knit community.  Many Fletcher students are involved in planning events such as the Diplomat’s Ball, Fletcher Follies, the four cultural nights, and various speaker events that bring students together in a cultural, diverse, academic, and social environment.  The ski trip shows that the community is not confined to Fletcher’s campus, but exists even when we are away from school.  What connects all student-organized events is that they strengthen the community; and that is the Fletcher experience.

First-year student, Beth, wrote about her first experience with this Fletcher tradition:

The legendary Fletcher ski trip took place recently.  While I was looking forward to it, I had no idea how it could live up to the expectations set by the second years.  All through the fall semester, second years raved about last year’s trip and talked endlessly about the bonding experience.  Somehow, I was doubtful that having 400 students spread over a mountain would really bring us that much closer, when we already spend endless hours together in class, the library, Mugar Café, and Davis Square.

Predictably, I was wrong.  Without the distraction of homework and internship searches, our class finally had the chance to talk about everything else.  Sitting on the ski lift, we chatted about sports, family ski trips, the prior night’s party, and our winter break.  I noticed my friends getting to know other students better and forging new relationships.  My classmates had always impressed me with their hobbies and skills, but I hadn’t had the chance to see most of their talents at work.  Watching them instantly befriend new people, teach each other to ski, fearlessly take on a new sport, or fly down the mountain was truly impressive.

Everything I like about my classmates in school — their supportiveness, their inclusiveness, their confidence, and their sense of adventure — translated perfectly onto the mountain.  As the second years had promised, the ski trip was an opportunity to see my classmates in a new light, and once again be impressed.

Blog readers already know that Fletcher students have talents that extend way beyond the classroom.  Today, allow me to introduce Los Fletcheros.  More accurately, I’ll let second-year student and part-time musician Jeffrey Fine do the introduction.  He was writing in answer to my question, “Are you a Fletchero?” and to my request for information about the group:

I am a Fletchero — trumpet.

As a least-common-denominator, we are all from Fletcher, we like to play music to blow off steam, and we have a propensity for throwing epic musical bashes that attract a broad sampling of Fletcher students.  More specifically, Los Fletcheros is an eight-piece band that has its roots in Fletcher’s cultural nights, but has since morphed into a venue-filling ensemble playing cover music from the jazz, funk, classic rock, pop, and alternative genres.  We now have about five shows in the academic year, plus one epic gala at the annual ski trip.  After graduating much talent last year, we recruited two new first-years who will be press-ganging new Fletcheros after six of us graduate in May.

Have musical talent?  Keep the Fletcheros in mind when you’re deciding if Fletcher is the grad school for you.  Otherwise, there may be pressure on the faculty to agree to the request from first-year Fletchero, Joe, to fail Jeff and other second-years Claire, Sam, Fred, Andrew, and Nick.  Joe writes, “I mean, I wish them all the best, of course, but this is rock and roll!”  Don’t let it come to this, future students.  Instead, help out by joining Los Fletcheros in September.

Alas, the fantastic run of the Fletcher Fútbol team came to an end yesterday in a replay of the final game.  The mid-morning start, and holding the game at Tufts, ensured that light on the field wouldn’t be an issue.

Despite freezing temperatures, and final exams knocking at their doors, intrepid fans turned out to cheer for the team.

As I live not far away and had a bit of Sunday morning free time, I decided to swing by the field for a while.  This, I’m afraid, was an unfortunate decision.  When I arrived, toward the end of the first half, the score was tied at 0-0.  But soon the HBS squad managed a goal.  After a brief break, our hardworking athletes returned to the field, only to suffer the surrender of two more goals.  Fearing that I was the problem, I headed home.  From that moment, HBS managed no further goals, and Fletcher scored one.  If only I had left a little sooner!  I’m so sorry Fletcher Fútbol.  I know you could have done it without me.

Mighty Fletcher Fútbol last night confronted Harvard Business School’s juggernaut of a team, playing to a 1-1 tie before Harvard switched the lights off on them.  LLM student Sevan delivered the crucial goal.  Back at Fletcher, team captain Sebastián updated the community:  “On behalf of the Fútbol team, we want to thank all the fans (100+) who cheered for us tonight.  It was awesome to see you all at the soccer field.”  To the team’s supporters, Elia vows, “Our victory (to come at a later date) will be for you.”

This is the semester’s last week of classes.  Exams loom on the immediate horizon.  But that didn’t stop the Fútbol enthusiasts from working tirelessly to draw their supportive crowd.  There were posters:

(Note the Movember moustaches.  These players excel at more than one game.)

And emails exhorting their classmates to come out and cheer for the team:

We promise you a very exciting game.  We play with the passion of the Colombians, the finesse of the French, the flair of the Italians, the speed of the Afghans, the sacrifice of the U.S. Marines, and so much more.

and, with no shortage of exclamation points:

Our football team, Fletcher Fútbol, have made history!!!  After a grueling season, they made the LEAGUE FINAL!!!!  Standing between them and the championship trophy: Harvard Business School.  Fletcher has never before brought the trophy home!  Therefore, it’s up to us to have a really good turn-out and get behind our heroic boys and girls!!!  Papers and exams are not due for another week. The team have worked their backsides off to get to the final, and it’s a fantastic achievement.  Now, with the full support of the School behind them, we’re going to act as the “12th man” and help them bring the trophy home!

And, finally, more posters:

The date for the tie-breaker game is still TBD.  Can our valiant players bring home the trophy?  Stay tuned, dear blog reader.  Win or lose, with the team’s endless enthusiasm and supportive fan base, how could I not love Fletcher Fútbol?

No.  There is no Fletcher admissions advantage for athletes.  I want to end that rumor right now, despite dramatic successes for three of our teams. Playing in the Tufts intramural league, facing undergraduate (i.e. younger) legs, both the basketball team:

and the volleyball team:

won in their divisions.  Congratulations teams!

Capping off a week of sports action, legendary Fletcher fútbol achieved a top-of-its group win (3-1!) over Harvard Kennedy School in the regional graduate school league.  The Fletcher fútbolers will soon play in the championship tournament, ably captained by second-year MALD students Amos and Sebastián.  First time to the tournament in Fletcher Fútbol history!  Let’s hope that Amos and Sebastián can count on three more goals from first-year MALD students Elia and Christian, as well as one from Sebastián himself.

If you play a little basketball, volleyball, or soccer/fútbol, consider joining your team of choice next fall.  While admission for athletes rests on their experience and academic ability, the same as for anyone else, we’re glad to know that some of the applications we read are from students who will contribute to a winning team.

Early Notification deadline aside, I know it’s November when Fletcher men start sprouting moustaches.  A relatively new Fletcher tradition, first- and second-year students compete to raise funds for men’s health during “Movember.”  As an impartial bystander, I think there’s a little competition for nuttiest approach to fundraising and the ‘stache itself.  There’s even some Mo trash talk, both between the classes of 2012 and 2013, and as the two classes unite to taunt their less successful (by moustache and fundraising standards) peers at the Kennedy School.

While waiting for full moustache splendor to emerge, Movemberists at Fletcher have raised funds through a 15-minute dance party, by sponsoring “design my moustache” auctions, and by patronizing local taverns that offer to donate back a portion of their proceeds for an evening.  All very creative, and for a good cause!  There are still two weeks left in Movember.  Who knows what these moustachioed Fletcher men will do next to boost their fundraising, and in their quest for the perfect mo.

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