Continuing our introductions of new student bloggers, today we meet Christine, who joins the first-year class after stints in Thailand and Italy:
Hi everyone! My name is Christine (she/her/hers) and I am a first year MALD candidate. My fields of study are Gender & Intersectional Analysis and Human Security & Humanitarian Affairs. I am so excited to be sharing my Fletcher journey with you over the next two years!
I am from Washington State (I have learned – on the East Coast you have to say Washington State or everyone will think you mean Washington D.C.) and I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. I found out about The Fletcher School while sitting in a village in Northern Thailand where I was studying abroad during my junior year of undergrad. The program focused on the gender and ethnicity dimensions of conflict and oppression, and the crucial work of local organizations in combating human rights violations. In Thailand, I learned about and witnessed the significant, prevailing gap in the understanding of gender dimensions of conflict. Gender identities and norms are crucial to conflict response and yet, during transitions from conflict, gender concerns are rarely given the focus they deserve. This inspired me to focus my future studies on gender, intersectionality, and conflict. Before Thailand I had tossed around the idea of graduate school, but never seriously considered it. It was in that moment that I knew with only two more years of undergrad left, I was not going to learn everything I wanted to before I graduated. I would need to continue on and earn my masters if I wanted to meaningfully contribute to the field I was pursuing. After hearing about my academic and career goals my program leader, a Fletcher MALD alumnus, encouraged me to look at the Fletcher School.
My senior year of undergrad I was the coordinator of a task force program in Rome, Italy through the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies. I worked with a former ambassador for the United States in a think tank environment to write a report entitled Strategic Military Defenses for the E.U. in 2030. As coordinator for the report, I learned about military strategy and defense. This knowledge not only increased my understanding of conflict, but also solidified my desire to study gender dimensions of conflict and, especially, peacebuilding strategies.
I landed in Italy in January of 2020 and watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold while I was there is something I will never forget. By mid-March, my program was cancelled and we all had to leave immediately (as in I got the email on Sunday and was out of the country by Wednesday). The entire experience was a whirlwind, but I learned a lot about international relations in the process. While I was in Italy I had been accepted into the Peace Corps and was set to begin teaching English in the Eastern Caribbean in June of 2020. The pandemic, however, put a halt on international travel and with just a month until graduation, and my plans of the Peace Corps uprooted, I had to pivot. I received a grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust Foundation for a yearlong internship working at a transitional housing non-profit in Washington State. During my time interning, I began the long graduate school application process.
Fletcher was always my number one choice. Beyond the incredible staff and course offerings, I was especially drawn to the sense of community at Fletcher. Every alumni and student I spoke to had nothing but incredible things to say about Fletcher. They each encouraged me to pursue the school for my graduate studies. Having been here for two months I can say Fletcher truly fosters mutuality and connection among its students. My classmates are incredibly accomplished professionals who push me to think in new ways. I learn as much from my fellow peers as I do my professors.
Currently, I am part of the Harvard Law and International Development Society (LIDS) working as an intern for the International Legal Foundation. My fellow interns and I are assisting in ILF’s work concerning the decriminalization of poverty in Palestine, specifically the repeal of petty offenses. I am also a research fellow for The Fletcher School Afghan Task Force aiding in the evacuation of artists and human rights defenders who are currently unsafe in Afghanistan. And, I recently joined the famous Fletcheros!, an all Fletcher cover band that performs at local venues around Medford, Somerville, and Boston.
I am having an incredible time at The Fletcher School. I am being pushed harder than I ever could have imagined. My classes are rigorous and fascinating. My assumptions are challenged every day. It is an honor to be studying at such an incredible school. I cannot wait to see what the next two years have in store for me and I am excited to share my journey with all of you. Until next time!