As promised yesterday, four new students are joining the Admissions Blog to share their Fletcher stories. First up is Kaitlyn, who traveled a path from Massachusetts to New York to three other countries, only to find her international affairs home back in Massachusetts.
Hi all! My name’s Kaitlyn, I’m a MALD student and I’m really excited to share the next two years of my Fletcher journey with you.
I’m a local: I was born and raised in Sandwich on Cape Cod, and have been all over Massachusetts and New England. This might shock you, but winter here is my favorite season. (I’ve even gone winter camping!) All that home-town savvy has come in handy when my peers want advice about where to visit, and how to survive the winter. (Pro Tip: cotton is rotten. Fleece and polyester are your best friends.)
Prior to Fletcher, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Writing from Ithaca College in New York, where it is is even snowier than Massachusetts. At Ithaca, I came to the conclusion that while I loved writing, I wanted to find something important to do with it. My search for that purpose led me to a minor in International Communications and an internship with a London politician. As a result, I fell completely in love with international affairs as a junior in college – too late to change my major.
Fletcher was an easy choice. My earlier pivot towards international affairs was more difficult. After graduating from Ithaca, I felt unsatisfied with my job options, but with a bachelor’s degree in a subject that was decidedly not related to international affairs, I wasn’t sure if I should commit to the career change. I needed time and space to think it over. So I spent a year teaching English in the Czech Republic and France, and then completed a year of service with AmeriCorps right here in “Beantown.” Both were instrumental in my decision to study at Fletcher.
In Europe, I was immersed in cultures and languages with which I was wholly unfamiliar. It was my first time arranging my own travel and visas. More importantly though, it was 2015. I planned my trip to the Czech Republic while listening to the BBC, day-by-day, documenting the Greek economic crisis, and I began teaching there at the height of the migrant crisis (about which my Czech students had a very different opinion than me). Witnessing Europe’s migrant crisis through that lens affected me greatly and left me considering what I could study that would allow me to help people caught in migrant situations, which I could see the existing system was not equipped to deal with. It meant that, by the end of that winter, the question I was asking myself was not: “Is international affairs right for me?” Instead it was: “What program?” And: “What do I need?”
As I was researching master’s programs, I began a year of service with AmeriCorps, which exposed me to the stark realities faced by minorities and migrants in my own country. The demographics of the Boston charter school where AmeriCorps placed me were half students who hadn’t succeeded in the public school system, and half who didn’t have the English level to matriculate into an American high school. I once again had students who didn’t share my cultural or, often, language background. And I had students who were refugees, or ought to have been. It was a crash-course in cross-cultural relationship building and a sobering learning experience on the hardships faced by people driven out of their homes by poverty, violence, or disaster. I hadn’t needed to travel to a different continent to learn about the realities of human migration, or how the current international system lets people fall through the cracks. There was a whole microcosm of people with first-hand experience sitting in my Intro to English class, right at home in Massachusetts.
Human migration wasn’t the only thing closer to home than I thought. When I found Fletcher, it didn’t take long for it to stand out as my first choice. I was excited by the flexible curriculum and the Human Security field, and (contrary to most of my peers) even more excited by the prospect of another New England winter. Fletcher seemed perfect. And there it was – a 20 minute drive away.
I’ve been a student for a little over two months now, and it more than exceeds my expectations. I’m in my favorite kind of place — a community of people with a wealth of diverse experiences. I feel very fortunate that I get to learn with and from them everyday.
At Fletcher, I live in Blakeley Hall, an on-campus housing option specifically for Fletcher students. It was a blessing coming out of AmeriCorps (a volunteer job) to skip the stress of searching for an affordable apartment. And everyone here appreciates that Blakeley is a two-minute walk from class. I love living with this vibrant slice of the whole Fletcher community — even if sharing a kitchen is a daily exercise in negotiation and patience. Yes, the bedrooms are small, but I’m not in my room enough to notice. I’m at events, or workshops, or splitting a table in the library’s “Harry Potter room” with my friends, while we study and appreciate our mutual obsession – coffee from the red machine outside the library door.
So here I am: done with mid-terms, and midway through the first course in the Human Security field. I’m familiarizing myself with Turabian style citations and working a few hours a week with the Tufts Literacy Corps. I also spent two weekends last month in a mediation certification program. There are some challenges: I am still trying to improve my time management so I can fit in more clubs and events, and winter is coming a lot slower than I want. One thing’s clear though – with my B.A. in writing, I feel right at home here.