As orientation rolls on, I’ve heard a number of colleagues comment that this year’s class of new Fletcher students are a happy-seeming bunch. That’s not abnormal; orientation is by definition a good-energy event, and I’ve likewise noticed a positive vibe so far this week. It helps that we’ve had idyllic weather (with a stormy afternoon yesterday being the only meteorological blight thus far). As I’ve mentioned before, we’re hugely excited by the arrival of our new students, and it’s great to feel that they’re just as excited to be here. A number of newer orientation sessions have upped the engagement and liveliness factor, too. “Finding your Flow at Fletcher,” led by 2003 MALD alumnus Omekongo Dibinga, achieved a high point that may not be matched this week; it was practically all I heard students talking about for most of Tuesday (unfortunately I had a meeting scheduled at the same time). Even though I missed his session, I’m confident Omekongo has me beat: while I do my best to make my own session on financial aid and scholarships not seem like a slog, it can be a tough hang between the dense and stress-inducing content and the end-of-day time slot. Very much more in the “necessary evil” than “I must tweet about this immediately” category.
Meeting our new students is the most fun part of orientation for me. Thus far I’ve chatted with MIB students from Kazakhstan and Colorado, an LLM from Morocco, a PhD in the process of moving to the area from Hawaii, and several handfuls of MALDs from all over the place (one of whom returned from Peace Corps service in Benin just three weeks ago – hang in there, my RPCV friend!). Most people are predictably overwhelmed to some degree, which is also normal for orientation. There are definitely some nerves about the start of classes next week, and also a bit of chatter about equivalency exams, which will take place on Friday. As I find myself reassuring apprehensive students, within a few weeks they’ll be nose-deep in books and papers, have a growing group of new friends, and know the ins and outs of the building like seasoned Fletcher veterans!