Posts by: Jessica Daniels

With fewer than ten days remaining until Commencement, the needed structures are starting to appear.  I took a walk through the heart of the University campus this morning and found the platform and tent that will be used for the main graduation ceremony that precedes Fletcher’s event for the conferring of diplomas.

Tent
All those fences will come down and chairs will be set up on the grass for the thousands of guests who attend.

We’ve enjoyed fantastic weather lately and the warm temperatures have coaxed into bloom the flowers and trees that are running a little behind schedule, due to our crazy winter.

Trees
And there’s a new statue of Jumbo, the Tufts mascot, to greet Commencement guests, too.

Jumbo
The Fletcher exam period ended yesterday, and the Hall of Flags is nearly deserted this morning.  Some students are still completing research papers and may also have exams at other schools where they have cross-registered for classes.  But most first-year students are off to internships and second-year students are starting their “Dis-Orientation” week today.  Dis-Orientation is the official/unofficial student-organized week of social events that is the closing bracket on the Fletcher experience that began with Orientation at the start of their studies.

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When Christine and I first talked about having her give us a run-down of April activities at Fletcher, as she had done in March, I had no idea that the list would run for five full pages.  I’m hardly afraid of a long blog post, but five pages is pushing anyone’s limits.  So we decided she would focus on fun events and those, such as conferences, that mark the culmination of a year’s work.  Here’s her carefully selected list of the many events that kept everyone engaged and exhausted last month.

April was a big month at Fletcher.  It is the last full month of the school year and also the most fun! There was plenty going on to keep student’s academic juices flowing as well as fun non-academic traditions as well. While you can view the full April calendar here, below is a quick recap:

April 1:The Ebola Crisis from Outbreak to Stamp Out — Lessons for the Future,” with Anthony Banbury, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response.

April 3: Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Vice President of IBM Research Africa, leads an intimate session on technology and inclusive innovation.

April 6: The International Business Club, Fletcher Veterans, and Global Women present, “Lead Where you Are: Perspectives from the Private, Public, and Non-Profit Sectors.”

April 7: Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Department of State Diplomat in Resident, spoke on “Diplomatic Tradecraft in Conflict Zones — Practical Skills for Serving in Countries in Crisis.”

April 9-10: Annual Inclusion Forum, presented by IBGC: Inclusion, Inc.

April 14:Shifting Sands in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. Policy,” with Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer.

April 15:Africa Rising: View from the African Union,” with Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety II, as part of the Charles Francis Adams Lecture series.

April 16: Feinstein Center researcher, and 2014 MALD graduate, Roxanne Krystalli: Integrating a Gender Perspective Into Research, presented by Global Women and Gender Initiative.

April 16:Solar 101: A Primer on Solar Energy Technology,” with Michael O’Dougherty, F87.

April 17: IMAGe and Gender Initiatives Speaker Series: Gary Barker, a leading voice on engaging men and boys in achieving gender equality and on ending violence against women globally.

April 18: Americana Night, part of the Fletcher Culture Night series, offering an appreciation of all things American.

April 20: Tufts Marathon Team runs the Boston Marathon!

April 21: The View from Washington: What is the U.S. Department of State Doing to Promote Democracy and Human Rights?” with Virginia Bennet, U.S. Department of State Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

April 27: Fletcher Follies, the annual culmination of another fantastic year at Fletcher, where we learn “where the hell” everyone went!

Underwater Flag

April 28: The Fletcher Ideas Exchange: First Annual Public Speaking Forum.  The event was modeled as a TED-type event and featured speeches by a select group of students, faculty, and alums.  The theme for the inaugural year was technology or media that connect or change the world.

April 28: Yoga in Ginn Library.  Nothing beats a long day of studying like some refreshing (and free) yoga!

April 30: Final Social Hour! Hosted by The Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and always one of the best of the year.

April 30: Therapy dogs in the library! Students got to meet Barkley and his friends and take a break from studying. Who could not love this face?

Barkley

 

GISFor some years now, many Fletcher students have been incorporating GIS (Geographic Information System) projects into their curricula.  They can access support and needed hardware/software through the GIS Center that is run by the Technology Services folks.  Tomorrow, over 30 of our students will be among the 130 Tufts students and faculty who present at a campus-wide GIS Poster Exposition.

For an idea of what this year’s posters will look like, check out the 2014 poster gallery.  Two of the runners up for the Best in Show prize, Evan Paradis and Andrea Bosneag were Fletcher students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I regret that I don’t have a way to capture all of the achievements of and honors received by our students and alumni, a few nice ones have recently passed by me.  First, Anna McCallie, second-year MALD (which, at this time of year, means soon to graduate and leave us), received the University’s Presidential Award for Citizenship.  In the type of supportive message I love to see, her friend and classmate Ali shared news of Anna’s award with the community, writing:

This award recognizes outstanding community service and leadership achievements.  This should come as no surprise to those of us who have benefited from her dedication in putting together this year’s Tufts Energy Conference, her virtuosity in making the Culture Nights what we’ve all enjoyed, and her beaming presence around campus.

Nice!  Over the weekend, I received a note from alumna Margot Shorey, informing me (and others included on the message) that she has recently published an article.

I would like to share this article Chad: a Precarious Counterterrorism Partner that I co-wrote with my colleague Dr. Benjamin Nickels, which has been published in the April edition of the CTC Sentinel.  I thought you might find the subject and our analysis interesting.

Although the title says most of it, here’s a teaser: Chad has been building a reputation as a strong and reliable counterterrorism partner in an increasingly difficult region of Africa.  International partners are funding Chad’s military to fight high profile non-state actors such as Boko Haram and AQIM, but there are multiple internal and external vulnerabilities that could render this regional power broker a broken power.  On the edge of your seat to find out what these vulnerabilities are…..? Read more here.

If you have comments, you can reach Margot via Twitter at @margots02.

And then, I learned that one of our first-year MALD students, Katherine Trujillo, is one of the 2015-16 recipients of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.  Others at Fletcher had already heard the news, but I’m not sorry that I first found out about it when I saw her smiling in the announcement in The New York Times.

 

Our next post from the Class of 2009 comes from Jelena Lukic.  While at Fletcher, Jelena served as a member of the Admissions Committee, and I remember well how much I enjoyed working with her.  I’m so pleased that she agreed to provide an update on her post-Fletcher life.

JelenaMy journey to Fletcher started while I was working on governance and youth programs in Iraq.  As a native of Serbia, prior to Iraq I had spent most of my early career working with civil society organizations in the Balkans on youth leadership and reconciliation issues.  Working in a complex environment such as Iraq helped me realize that I needed to augment my degree in psychology with graduate studies in international affairs.

I chose Fletcher because its multidisciplinary and flexible curriculum enabled me to design an educational experience that would strengthen my existing technical skills and, at the same time, build a new set of professional competencies that I needed to make a career change.  To marry my background in non-profit work and my growing interest in the role that the private sector can play in fragile environments, I decided to focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues during my time at Fletcher.

I chose International Negotiations and Conflict Resolution and International Business Relations as my Fields of Study.  The diversity and flexibility of the Fletcher curriculum allowed me to explore a broad range of CSR issues, such as through Prof. Everett’s petroleum industry class and a clean energy course with Prof. Moomaw.  Knowing that the CSR efforts of many companies include health initiatives, I took a global health course.  I also benefited from the opportunity to take a CSR course at Harvard Business School.  In my work, I still use the analytical approaches I learned in the negotiations course with Prof. Babbitt.  Appreciating that two years at Fletcher was a precious time to explore personal interests, I took courses on Iran with Prof. Nasr and oceanic history with Prof. Perry.

At the end of the day, it’s not the classes that made my Fletcher experience so special, but the lifelong friendships I developed.  Step practice for the Africa Culture Night was a great getaway from number-crunching lessons.  Being a student member of the Admissions Committee was one of the best jobs I ever had, and memories of the weekend on Cape Cod during “Dis-Orientation” week still make me laugh.

My Fletcher experiences led me to develop a clear goal to work on community engagement issues in the oil, gas, and mining industries.  My thesis, which analyzed why the relationships with local communities are often tense, despite the many investments that oil, gas, and mining companies make in local development, helped me land a job with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group that is devoted to the private sector in developing countries.

At IFC I worked for more than three years as a Social Investment Specialist, helping oil, gas, and mining companies develop strategic community investments to enhance benefits to local communities.  I was a member of the team that developed the Financial Valuation Tool for Sustainability Investments, an innovative tool that quantifies the financial return back to the company from community investments, and helps build a business case for investing in local development and communities.  I also worked on developing the Water, Mining, and Communities Framework, which guides mining companies in how to effectively address social risk around water and deliver positive development outcomes.

Working at IFC, I strengthened my expertise in social sustainability.  As a next career step, I wanted to experience how the public sector tackles sustainability issues.  So, for the past two years, I have been working as a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, focusing on the application of environmental and social standards in investment lending projects.

Despite having an interesting career, I don’t let my job define me.  Through a Fletcher classmate, I discovered sailing as a passion in my life.  Obtaining a boat-cruising certificate is one of my biggest accomplishments since graduating from Fletcher.  And, of course, the Fletcher crowd joins me in annual sailing trips in the Mediterranean.

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As a Fletcher staffer, there are the events I attend, the events I wish I could attend but don’t have time for, and the events that, let’s be honest, are really designed for students, not staff.  That would include the Culture Nights, where students share music, dance, and other performances from their native Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Mediterranean Region, and just have a great time.  The newest of the Culture Nights is Americana Night, which I have asked Admissions pal and soon-to-graduate MALD student, Anna, to describe.

Fact: There are 50 states in America!
Fact: The colors of the American Flag are red, white, and blue!
Fact: Beyoncé is our greatest national treasure!

These are just three of the “facts” that students who attended this month’s Americana Night learned.  I had the honor of being the co-host in both my years at Fletcher, and it is quite a night.  There might not be a lot of learning going on, but there is a whole lot of fun.

Americana Night started as a Fletcher Follies sketch a few years ago — it was a tongue-in-cheek parody of all of the other (amazing) Culture Nights at Fletcher.  But then some students decided they wanted to make it a real thing, so here we are!

This year, we had a truly incredible display of talent.  Many different genres of American music were represented, from a bluegrass quartet singing Johnny Cash to “Fletallica,” a metal band covering some of the greatest headbangers in the canon.  The fashion show theme was “America Through The Decades,” and Fletcherites strutted their stuff to hits ranging from Chubby Checker to Mariah Carey.  One student performed some of Robin Williams’s greatest stand-up routines as a tribute to the comedian, while another recited original poetry that he had penned for the occasion.  And, of course, there was Beyoncé.  Well, a Beyoncé dance, that is — we reached out to the legend herself, but she couldn’t squeeze Americana Night into her busy schedule.  Next year, Bey!

Despite the night’s star-spangled theme, students from all over the world performed in the acts.  Jamaica, Mexico, Venezuela, South Korea, Ghana… as with everything at Fletcher, this was a truly international gathering.  We even had a nice tribute to the frozen north as our brothers and sisters from Canada sang their national anthem at the top of the show.

Hosting and organizing Americana Night was definitely the highlight of my Fletcher career.  The Culture Nights as a whole represent the very best of Fletcher.  We’re a group of internationally minded people who love nothing more than to get together with some good food, good spirits, and good friends, to better know the world.

 

One of our 2014 graduates, Jennifer Ambrose, contributed a post to WhyDev, a blog she edits that focuses on improving development and international aid.  In the post, she answers the question on many of our minds — how we can help Nepal.  Her key point:

Do not go volunteer in a crisis. Do not send stuff (pillowcase dresses, ski jackets, stuffed animals, old medical equipment, notebooks, yoga mats…) to a disaster zone.  DO donate money!  Choose an established professional organization, one that works in disaster response and has experience in Nepal — the likes of CARE, Mercy Corps, the Red Cross or MSF.

Her post includes a Storify, compiling Twitter posts of advice from development experts on how to help.  And how not to.

 

In the area?  Here (at very short notice — sorry!) is an event you might like to join us for.  The information that flowed my way said:

Fletcher Ideas Exchange (FIE) is the first annual forum for public speaking at the Fletcher School.  Modeled as a TED-type event, this year FIE will feature engaging speeches around a theme that is relevant and thought provoking: media and technology that connect or change the world (Media/Tech to Change/Connect).

Join us Tuesday, April 28th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for an exciting display of the ideas of the future, where students and faculty alike will share with the audience how the power of media and technology will connect us all.

The speakers — who include students, faculty, one alum, and a special guest — will deliver short and engaging speeches, eight to 15 minutes each.  The line-up:

Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti: Flying Cars and The Human Condition
Seth Pate (second-year MALD): New Media in Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement
Prof. Daniel Drezner: Pop Culture in International Relations
Rachel Roberts (visiting student): The Value of Learning Communities in Online Education
Prof. Achim Ladwig: Town Hall Meetings of the Future in Europe
Malini Goel, F03: Should Tomorrow Be (Using Video to Inspire and Tell Your Story)
Muralidhar Selvamani (first-year MALD): The Tale of Two Documentaries
Prof. Edward Schumacher-Mathos: A New Vision for IR Schools in the Platformed World
Dean Davis: Sofar (How Social Media Fueled a Global Music Movement)
Grant Bridgman (first-year MALD): What Do You Want to Know? (Spreading Access to Information in Africa)
Prof. Mihir Mankad: Social Change Television

Check these links for  more information:

Website
Speakers
Register

 

Catching up with an event from earlier this month, I’m happy to be able to share links to results and findings from Lean Lab, co-hosted by Fletcher, the Feinstein International Center, and MIT’s D-Lab.  The Lean Lab was a gathering that grew out of Lean Research to discuss a rigorous, relevant, ethical approach to research in vulnerable settings.  Key players in Lean Lab include Prof. Kim Wilson, as well as our old blog friend, Roxanne Krystalli.  Roxanne shared these links with the community:

  • Key insights from the day can be browsed here.
  • A draft of the Lean Research working paper, as well as a framework of questions to ask ourselves when designing and implementing field research, are available halfway down the page here.
  • Follow @Lean_Research on Twitter for more.

Besides Prof. Wilson and Roxanne, another Fletcher graduate Rachel Gordon F12, worked on the implementation of the event, as did several current Fletcher students.

 

We’re rapidly approaching the one-year post-Fletcher mark for the graduates in the Class of 2014.  Today we meet Julia Leis, whose path from pre-Fletcher to her current location involved several countries on three continents.  Julia used her time at Fletcher to develop her interests and explore new areas, resulting in the perfect job that weaves everything together.

Headshot_JuliaLeisWhile working at an agricultural school for Burmese youth in northern Thailand in March 2011, I confronted two major decisions: 1) which career/life path to choose; and 2) whether to return to the U.S. that August.  I knew I wanted to continue my education and, while my undergraduate studies at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service had prepared me well in international relations, picking the right graduate program was a challenge.

The decision was complicated because I felt I had too many interests.  Urban planning, social enterprise, natural resource management, and public policy all fascinated me, as each area incorporated my previous work experience and passions.  In addition to these interests, I knew I wanted a graduate school with an international focus on development.  Thanks to mentors and supportive family back home in Chicago — and a Fletcher student, who I found through the Fletcher Admissions Blog and who Skyped with me while I was in Thailand — I found the ideal place, where I would have the flexibility and support to pursue multiple avenues of interest: The Fletcher School.

Now, four years after I considered my future plans, I can happily report that enrolling at Fletcher was the best decision I ever could have made.  Not only did I find an incredible group of friends and peers at Fletcher, but I was able to pursue all of my interests in various capacities through courses, by organizing conferences, and in research assistant positions.

The sense of community that I found at Fletcher from the first day was unparalleled.  The first weeks of school were both exciting and overwhelming, as I struggled to find the right balance between building off my previous background and exploring new subject areas.  By the end of my first year, while I knew I wanted to pursue a career abroad, I did not know in what capacity.

Julia Leis, Burkina Faso

Visiting female poultry producers in southwest Burkina Faso, 2013

In between my first and my second year at Fletcher, I was able to pursue an internship with Millennium Challenge Corporation in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, working on agricultural development, M&E, and land tenure reform projects, which allowed me to broaden my development skill set while working in a French-speaking context.

In my second year at Fletcher, I cross-registered for a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, under Visiting Professor David Sanderson, called Design for Urban Disaster.  This course, along with Field Studies in Global Consulting with Prof. Rusty Tunnard, reignited my interests in complex urban issues, resilience, and human-centered design, and I considered more seriously pursuing a career in humanitarian response.  With the support of Prof. Tunnard, I also self-designed a Field of Study in international urban planning and development.  In January 2014, I joined a graduate school field trip with Prof. Sanderson to Léogâne, Haiti, to conduct a participatory evaluation on transitional shelters.

In preparing for life post-Fletcher, I attended an Office of Career Services information session with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the fall semester of my second year, and I decided to apply to their International Development Fellows Program (IDFP).  My interest in the IDFP was further solidified by courses such as Essentials of Humanitarian Action and Gender, Culture, and Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies with Prof. Dyan Mazurana and Prof. Elizabeth Stites.

CRS selects approximately 20 IDFP fellows each year, and places them across CRS country programs in Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Central America.  I discovered that at least one Fletcher student had done the IDFP each year prior to me in places such as Haiti, Kenya, and Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza.  I was able to connect with these talented alumni, who highlighted what an excellent opportunity the IDFP offered to pursue a humanitarian career abroad, as a majority of fellows will, after nine to ten months, transition to program manager positions within CRS.  I knew that the IDFP would allow me the chance to work closely with communities and partners at the local level, and with an organization I deeply respected.  I was fortunate to be selected and offered a position with the CRS Philippines country program in early May, and my posting was scheduled to begin in September 2014.

As I graduated in May 2014, I needed to find summer employment to get me through to September.  Again, Fletcher provided me and other students with an excellent opportunity to conduct field research related to topics that interested us.  I joined my phenomenally talented research partner Anisha Baghudana (MIB ’15) in Nairobi, Kenya as Junior Research Fellows with the Institute for Business in the Global Context and MasterCard Worldwide.  We completed a qualitative study on how digital innovation is improving urban mobility in Nairobi.  Connecting with Nairobi’s tech and start-up community provided an exciting glimpse into how entrepreneurs are creating solutions to solve some of Nairobi’s biggest urban transport challenges, including traffic congestion, poor road quality, and safety and security for passengers and pedestrians.

Hygiene promotion during shelter and WASH kit distribution in Eastern Samar for Typhoon Hagupit emergency response, 2014

Hygiene promotion during shelter and WASH kit distribution in Eastern Samar for Typhoon Hagupit emergency response, 2014

In my current position as a CRS fellow in the Philippines, where CRS has been working since 1945, I have worked with exceptionally talented Filipino and international colleagues in Manila, Davao, and Tacloban City.  In Eastern Leyte and Samar, CRS is responding with Shelter, WASH, and Livelihoods programming after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the area in November 2013.  I’ve supported multiple projects, including an urban disaster risk reduction program called SUCCESS (Strengthening Urban Communities Capacity to Endure Severe Shocks) in Metro Manila, and the December 2014 Typhoon Hagupit emergency response in Eastern Samar.  My training from the class on Essentials of Humanitarian Action proved extremely useful and applicable, as I helped with shelter and WASH kit distribution in affected communities, wrote situation reports, and attended coordination meetings with local government agencies and UNOCHA.

Like Hanneke, while I dearly miss my family back in Chicago and my Fletcher family, I never cease to be amazed at how close we remain.  Despite being in vastly distant locations now, such as South Sudan, Washington, DC, Uganda, Nepal, Guatemala, and Boston, we support each other in any way we can, especially as the transition after grad school is not always a smooth one.  They have supported me through countless Skype calls, and even with a month-long visit to the Philippines.  It is this unique network of support that so attracted me to Fletcher in the first place, and I know that it will remain with me for years to come.

A final Sunday brunch in Medford, MA, 2014

A final Sunday brunch in Medford, MA, 2014

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