Victoria’s fall semester

Dear Fletcher,

We’re somewhat half way through the Fall semester (time has been a blur), how are you all doing? I’m going to start off by admitting that this semester has been rough. Despite being on Zoom for half of the last spring semester, what makes this semester different so far has been the relative lack of face time with my peers. I’m sure many of you feel it too.

So you know what? It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel, in these “unprecedented times,” all kinds of feelings. This “new normal” has not been the same for all of us and some are struggling more than others to stay afloat and I see you. Normally, I give hugs and whatever else I can to others who need it, but during these days, I’ll just have to air hug from 6ft or further away.

Zoom conferenceI have a habit of biting off more than I can chew and this is exactly how I feel this semester with 4 official classes, 1 audit, starting my capstone, and having a part-time job. Efficiency is down the drain, but we plod forward as much as we can. However, I am still excited and grateful for all the big and small accomplishments. I was one of the student leaders for the Murrow Conference, for which we spent a whole summer contacting, planning, and organizing. At the end of the day, I think we did a pretty good job! I was a little busier than the others on the panel organizing front since I had two panels to prepare, but I’m proud of the results. Please find a screenshot from the panel “Biometric Revolution? Election Technology and Digital Democracy in Africa.” If anyone is interested, the recordings will likely be accessible through the Fletcher Facebook page and Murrow Website.

I also was made one of the CBS-Radcliffe scholars, which is an endowed scholarship for students dedicated to contributing to global understanding and to fairness and integrity in public affairs. I feel fortunate and humbled to be able to expand on the legacies of Edward Murrow and Harry A. Radcliffe II, two CBS legends and Fletcher alum. On the other hand, this means I very much need to get back to Prof. Gideon about my capstone If I want to graduate on time….

On another note, not all clubs are equally active right now for various reasons. As one of the student leaders for the Ambassachords, we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that performing in any way or rehearsing on Zoom is going to be very difficult. So currently, we’re waiting to see what the situation will be like in spring. As one of the China Club student leaders, while we can’t cook together as we did last year, I did organize a low-key Mid-Autumn Festival study break and will hopefully be able to bring some speakers in during the semester and other more casual community bonding activities. Stay tuned!

Victoria's workspaceIn the meantime, I know we will persevere. I feel so lucky to have professors who are understanding and doing everything they can to make Zoom University work for them and for us. So before I end this post, a deep appreciation to all the professors: to Professor Wolff who has made the discussion board optional and thus allowing us to post when we can to alleviate stress; to Professor Kowalczyk for doing his best despite a chaotic online midterm and always being so cheery on Zoom; to Professor Mukunda, for being a big and fun personality in class and indirectly a link to life in Beijing as he used to teach at Schwarzman College around the same time I began working in Beijing; to Professor Jacque for being calm and collected even though his cold calling causes me to blank out (I swear I’ll get better at Corporate Finance at some point); and lastly, to my cross-reg professors at HKS, Professor Sunstein and Ambassador Power, for being the best power couple to teach a class and make my Monday afternoons so much brighter and inspired.

Lastly, a thank you to my quarantine housemates. Our little Fletcher bubble is honestly half of the fuel keeping me going. Oh and our fourth housemate, the cat from Panama, Canela. Bless you all.

Peace, Power, and Love,


PS: Stay safe, wear a mask, and don’t forget to vote.


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