We’ll continue with new student blogger introductions today with Kanako:
Hello! This is Kanako Kimura, a 2nd year MALD 2021 from Japan. My concentration is Political Systems and Theories (or International Security) as well as Business Relations. I am excited to share with you my time at Fletcher over this year! In this post, I would like to write about 1) how I become interested in international relations, 2) why I chose to study at Fletcher, and 3) my path prior to Fletcher.
How I became interested in international relations: Born and raised in Tokyo, this is my second time studying in the United States. The first time was when I was nineteen – being in Arkansas from 2013 to 2014, learning English and American culture. This experience was my foundation of my life and career; I loved communicating with people from different nationalities and became very interested in the subject of “International Relations.” After I got back in Tokyo, I started to take classes of international politics, peace studies, and Japanese national security, confirming my profound interests. Then I started to dream about attending a top US graduate school of international relations – with a long period of effort on English self-study, professional growth, and financing, I applied in 2018 to John’s Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, Georgetown MSFS, and Tufts Fletcher. Accepted to SAIS and Fletcher, I finally chose Fletcher for my destination! (More information about my background is in the end of this post).
Why I chose Fletcher: This was a tough question. It was difficult because SAIS and Fletcher had so many differences rather than similarities even though both are schools of international relations. To choose, I considered five criteria: 1) Curriculum Flexibility 2) Professional accessibility to post-graduation career paths 3) Finance 4) Location 5) Communication style between the school and students. Long story short, I chose Fletcher as I was very comfortable communicating with the Fletcher community and could easily imagine myself attending to the school considering accommodations, summer study to prepare for the school, and financing. With the fact that I could not fly to the US to attend the campus tours, email communication with the administration, faculty, and students, as well as conversation among accepted students in the WhatsApp group hugely impacted my decision.
My path before Fletcher and why I decided to attend graduate school: My background was a lot of trial and error as well as rejections and encounters. The first rejection was in 2015. After I spent 15 months in Arkansas, I asked my parents to continue my education in the US. My father rejected the idea. I re-started my college in Japan and met a professor. He suggested I apply for the university-funded program for a student representative to the UN’s 70th ceremony in the Geneva, Switzerland, as well as the Japan-US security arrangements’ 160th ceremony in Washington D.C. I was able to join the program, and this experience defined my preference of being practitioner of international relations. So, I applied for a summer internship at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the second rejection, in 2016. I started to look for a corporate internship and met a person who became my recommender to the school. He offered me a full-time internship at a US-based venture capital firm, working for an acquired start-up developing the business. It was a completely different subject from what I used to enjoy, but I came to learn the business basics and found excitement in investments. After I spent one year approaching my college graduation, I started to lose myself. I did not know what I wanted to do and restarted thinking about my passion. During this period of time I was not well to work professionally, so I needed to leave the firm. This was the third rejection, in 2017. By leaving and graduating college, I realized it was time to apply for US grad school. I wanted enough time to think carefully about my vision and passion. I applied – and was accepted!
Seemingly I was not alone. At Fletcher, I found other students with similar reasons to attend school. Fletcher gives students lots of opportunity to find their own answers and was the best place for that purpose. The key takeaway from this journey is that there is always an “entrance” after a rejection. A rejection always has some meaning in life, and I consider the rejection to be an opportunity to make the right move yourself.