It’s one of my favorite times of year on the blog calendar: the introduction to our readers of our new first-year student bloggers! Samira and I were in touch early in the year about her interests in blogging, and it was such a thrill when we finally crossed paths in person during the first few weeks of the semester. Welcome to Fletcher, and to the Admissions blog, Samira!
Hello, hello! My name is Samira and I am a first-year MALD student and a returning Jumbo. I am excited to share my experiences at Fletcher (and beyond) with you over the next two years. As an avid reader of the Fletcher Admissions blog, it was only natural for me to ask Dan if I could share my experiences. He was kind enough to say yes!
I was born and raised in Dhaka and left Bangladesh for the first time in 2012. I came to Tufts with a half-hearted intent to study biology, so it was unsurprising that I’d graduate with a classic Tufts degree – Economics and International Relations. At Tufts, I had the good fortune of building relationships with an amazing mix of people who shaped my thoughts and helped me on my journey forward. One of the highlights was working with three inspiring professors, including Professor Knudsen from Fletcher, who introduced me to the world of interdisciplinary research and the art of asking questions.
Following graduation, I was adamant about not working in either the United States or Bangladesh. I managed to land somewhere (almost) in the middle – Jordan. What was intended to be a four-month internship in Amman would turn out to be over two and a half years of constant learning. I worked with the International Labour Organization’s Better Work program in Jordan, doing a combination of research, project management and evaluation work.
I had intended to join Fletcher in Fall 2018, but decided to defer a year to get more experience and explore some new areas. Before coming back to Medford, I spent a few months teleworking from Bangladesh on short assignments with Better Work/ILO in other countries. During this time, I also joined a short-term project with BRAC, helping me learn about civil-society organizations working on SDG 8 in my country.
Although I began my professional life with some background in governance and impact assessment in the global apparel sector, I left with questions (and critiques) that expanded to migration, displacement, livelihoods, politics of foreign aid and the “humanitarian-development nexus.”
And so, here I am! With two suitcases and a carry-on of questions and two years to unpack.
I come with the advantage of knowing Tufts from my undergraduate years, but there is just so much to learn every day! Take the Fletcher lingo for example. I didn’t know that the Hall of Flags was shortened to “HoF” in many emails and messages and so missed several free food and drinks as a result! Another good example is the “Fletcher dilemma.” And yes, it does exist. When people tell you that Fletcher has many options, they’re not exaggerating. The past two months have been a constant struggle to choose what to do and where to go, as well as deciding what to forgo.
Choosing courses was surprisingly stressful; I ended up taking E213 Econometrics, P297 Engaging Human Security, D232 Gender, Culture & Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies and D220 Processes of International Negotiations. Hopefully, this combination made sense as I plan to pursue a combination of development economics and humanitarian studies with a focus on gender analysis for my academic concentration. This, of course, is subject to change!
Outside the classroom, I am serving as a First-Year Representative to the Fletcher Student Council and exploring the many different student groups. We recently had the Decolonizing International Relations Conference, which I was super excited to attend. On the social side, I recently attended Fletcher Feasts, a series of dinners hosted and attended by Fletcher students. Hosts prepare a meal and guests are randomly assigned to the dinners. The dinner did what exactly what it had intended to – promote conversations and connect folks from different backgrounds. It was so much fun that I’m thinking of hosting one myself (in Blakeley Hall)!
Thank you for reading my first post! It’s been a busy two months and I have no doubt that I’ll have plenty to write about this semester.