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If you’re ever visiting Fletcher’s Ginn Library and you’d like to see something a little different than books, desks, and hard-working students, swing over to the Fletcher Perspectives Gallery.  There you’ll find a collection of student photography from travels near and far.

If you’re not going to be on campus or in the library any time soon, all of the photos, going back to 2016, can be found on the Perspectives website.

 

 

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A quick return to the topics submitted by Admissions Blog readers on the survey.  Today, I’ll answer a two-part question.

Part One: “I’d like to hear more about the MALD-JD dual degrees.”
There’s pretty complete information on all the dual degrees on the website.  As you’ll see, our two official dual-law-degree relationships are with Harvard Law School and Boalt Hall at UC-Berkeley.  If you scroll down on the page, you’ll also see the explanation of how to arrange an ad hoc dual degree.  With the JD required for anyone wishing to practice law in the U.S., and with only two official partners, a good number of our MALD-JD students have put together their own programs at other law schools.  It’s totally doable!  But getting the maximum benefit of doing the two degrees together (that is, reducing five years of study to four) requires that the law school accept four Fletcher credits.  There are many that will accept transfer/dual-degree credits, but some schools simply insist on students pursuing all their coursework at that school.  Check with their admissions office or registrar for details.

Part Two: “I’d also love to hear about students who have gone on to get a PhD at Fletcher after the MALD.”
Once again, I’m going to let the website do the talking.  The Student Profiles page includes both MALD-to-PhD students and direct-entry students.  Among the former MALDs are:

Ana de Alba, Shahla Al Kli, Neha Ansari, Deborshi Barat, Prisca Benelli, Sarah Detzner, Matthew Herbert, Roxanne Krystalli, Phoebe Donnelly, Torrey Taussig, Andrea Walther-Puri, Jamilah Welch

The key must-do points for students in the MALD (or MIB) program who wish to move on to the PhD are:

  1. Maintain a GPA of 3.6 or higher.
  2. Complete a traditional academic thesis to fulfill the Capstone Project requirement.
  3. Establish strong relationships with members of the faculty who can write your recommendation letters, will agree to serve as your academic advisor, and may chair or serve on your dissertation committee.

Only three simple points, but all of them require effort.  It’s also helpful to attend the information session on applying to the PhD program that is offered every fall.

And those are the basics on the MALD-JD and on getting a PhD at Fletcher!

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Yesterday we read about research and professional activities that occupy several members of the faculty.  Today we’ll meet some students, a professor, and a member of the staff from whom I’m separated by only a wall.  These Community Introductions were created and compiled by the Fletcher Student Council.  (Credit where credit is due!) 

Karina Peña (second-year MALD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
Human Security and International Migration

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, as a program assistant for their Latin American Program. You know those fancy panel events in DC with free coffee?  I planned a lot of those, and tweeted a lot….

Where are you from?
Miami, FL, but my parents are from Cuba and Nicaragua.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Nicaragua.  Specifically, the tiny town where my grandparents built their house, Los Cedros.  Just visiting Nicaragua and learning about my heritage has been a joy, but to also experience small town life after a lifetime of living in urban areas was so informative.  When I was younger, it was my first experience with the developing world and extreme poverty.  But over the years, it’s developed a lot (e.g. paved roads, new schools, more internet access), so in my head, it’s almost like a practical study of development, as well as a comforting place to kick back and read a book in my hammock.

Who are your favorite writers?
I forget what it’s like to read for fun, but Jane Austen and Isabel Allende always chill me out.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandmother.  She’s endured a ton of hardship throughout her life (civil war, immigrating to the U.S., being the product of a generation that didn’t value education for women, etc.), but she’s the strongest person I know.  She’s also been juicing since before it was cool.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Grad school!  Or more abstractly, being more educated and better positioned than my parents.  They both had to start over in this country, but their hard work paved the way for me to have more opportunities than they did, and that’s certainly one interpretation of the “American Dream.”

Which living person do you most admire?
I already said my grandmother, so….Oprah?  Self-made, intrepid, entrepreneurial, and a fellow [shameless] lover of bread!

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Self-care, and I don’t think we talk about this enough!  We’re all such dedicated, ambitious people, and many of us give more to the community that we give to ourselves.  This semester, I’ve forced myself to make time for some fitness.  It may complicate my schedule a bit, but the satisfaction of a good workout (or whatever self-care may look like for you) goes a long way!

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Fiesta Latina 2017!  It was February, so I was homesick, sad, and cold, but Fiesta Latina warmed up my heart and soul.  It was beautiful to see it come together as a group effort from members of the Fletcher Latin America Group and the broader Fletcher community.  We also mixed in some political commentary and Latino pride during a time when many of us felt personally attacked by anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.  (This might be a plug for Fiesta Latina 2019.)

Meg Guliford (PhD candidate)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m a PhD student in Comparative Politics and International Security Studies.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked in the defense industry for 11 years.

Where are you from?
The south side of Hoisington, KS.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
There is no better place in the world to me than the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota.

Who are your favorite writers?
Beverly Cleary and Wilson Rawls.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
Mel Harmon, my high school custodian.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Relearning to walk after being confined to a wheelchair for several months.

Which living person do you most admire?
Dolly Parton

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Having three close family members die within a two-month period while trying to study for and complete my comprehensive exams.

JB Kelly (first-year MALD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
Security Studies and… something else?  I am still a first year MALD, so I think maybe it’s okay that I don’t quite know yet.  Right? I’m sure it’ll work out.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was a U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFODA) Commander and subsequently a Plans Officer (S5) in 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).  In layman’s terms, I was (and still am) a “Green Beret.”

Where are you from?
Stoneham, which is one town north of Medford.  I’ve lived all over the world at this point, so it’s nice to be home and catch a game at Fenway.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Hard to pick one place.  I’ve lived a year of my life in Transylvania, so that’s pretty unique I suppose.  My favorite travel experience was the time I spent three weeks living with an ethnically Algerian family in the town of Cagnes sur Mer along Côte d’Azur in France.  I learned some French, but more importantly I got to peek inside the family life of an average, well-integrated, ethnically Algerian, French family.

Who are your favorite writers?
Fiction – Jack Kerouac; Poetry – Billy Collins

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
CSM (Retired) Billy Waugh.  His book, Hunting the Jackal, inspired me to volunteer for more than the average Army career.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Sometimes I wonder how/why I followed through on my application to West Point over 15 years ago now.  It’s a lengthy process, my parents were NOT super-stoked about the prospect of their child joining the U.S. Army in a post-9/11 world, and frankly, I was a goof ball in high school.  Any accomplishment, award, or accolade I have all seem to go back to that shockingly mature decision as a very immature high school junior.

Which living person do you most admire?
General Joseph Dunford.  I met him very briefly in Kunar, Afghanistan while he was ISAF Commander and again when he spoke at Fletcher last semester.  I think every military officer should aspire to his level of professionalism and selflessness.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
I am still working on it, but my biggest personal challenge has always been achieving a work-life balance.  The military life can become all-consuming if one doesn’t actively work on family life or get a hobby.  For example, my fiancé, Amanda, is also an Army officer, but still stationed over in Germany, so it takes some effort to stay connected via FaceTime and plane travel.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
There are too many to count really.  I am truly enjoying just being a guy, in a class, thinking about stuff.  The occasional post-(insert event here) beers at PJ Ryan’s have been pretty great too.

Quick plug: if you’d like to join me in my hobby of brewing beer, join the Fletcher Fermentation Club.

Liz Wagoner (Associate Director of Admissions & Financial Aid)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I’ve worked in the Admissions Office since August 2012.  I read applications, work closely with our admissions ambassadors and do much of our event planning, including the big April Open House.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business in their admissions office.  I worked primarily with the health sector and nonprofit MBA programs, so coming to Fletcher was a great fit.  I’m a graduate of Bates College (Go Bobcats!) and went to BU for my master’s in higher education (shout out to my fellow Terriers).

Where are you from?
I’m a little from all over.  I was born out west, spent my early childhood in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, moved around a ton in middle school/high school, mostly around New England, but ultimately, I think of NH as home.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I’m not sure I’ve been anywhere unique, but in a few weeks, I’m going to Iceland for a few days.  It’s been on my bucket list for a while now and I cannot wait to go!  Fingers crossed I get to see the northern lights!

Who are your favorite writers?
I’m a big fan of comedic writers like David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling and I think JK Rowling is a genius.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mom.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I was once ranked 18th in the country for squash (juniors).  I had always wanted to crack the top 20, so when I finally did, it was a big deal for me!

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time.  There’s never enough of it!  And perhaps, securing rooms for events — there’s never enough of those either.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I’m a huge fan of the Annual Faculty & Staff Wait On You Dinner (AFSWOYD).  I love how the community comes together for a great cause and I get a kick out of the competitiveness of the students while bidding on auction items!  It’s always a great time.

John Burgess (Professor of Practice, Executive Director LL.M. Program)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I teach cross-border mergers and acquisitions and law of the sea.  I also run the LL.M. Program.

What did you do before Fletcher?
37 years at WilmerHale, a large, multinational law firm, with a some time off for work on the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty at the U.S. State Department.

Where are you from?
Waltham, Massachusetts.  I’ve been all over the world, but ultimately didn’t land too far from the tree.  Boston suits me fine.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Iceland — it’s like a controlled experiment in living, that gods with a sense of humor located in a land where the principal action is all geothermal.

Who are your favorite writers?
Joseph Conrad for introducing us to a globalized world and Stefan Zweig for preserving the lost world of central Europe before the Great War.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My father, who has never encountered anything in the world of science or art that he didn’t find fascinating.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
42 years of marriage, two great daughters and two wonderful grandchildren.  Is it inappropriate to add completing a biathlon in Austria while dressed in business casual and periodically being required to drink a shot of schnapps?

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Adjusting to the rhythms of the academic year.  One minute, the corridors are filled, there are a dozen events to choose from, and exciting projects are being shared.  And a day later, silence.  I have finally figured out when you are supposed to actually do research or prepare a new course.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Aside from drawing on long-lost skills to wait tables once a year for the students with friends and colleagues from the faculty and staff?  Reverse engineering two very different events — AliBaba’s IPO and the Philippines/South China Sea arbitration to share the myriad of legal subtleties that the press never gets around to discussing.

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This will be an exciting day for four teams of Fletcher students who are competing in the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition.  Four teams out of only 18 to reach the finals, in fact!  The finalist teams will compete in three tracks — Social Impact; MedTech and Life Science; and General and High-Tech — with the pitching going on throughout the day.  The competing teams all include, but aren’t limited to, members of the Tufts community.

The Fletcher teams are:

Edkasa, Winner of the 2018 Fletcher D-Prize with $30,000 in cash and in-kind support services!
Team Members: Sohail Ali, F19; Bakhtawar Ali, F19; Fahad Tanveer; Annum Sadiq
Venture description: Pakistan has 15 million out of school secondary students.  Of those who are in school, nearly half do not graduate.  Using a live, virtual learning platform, EDKASA makes “rock star” teachers accessible to secondary students in Pakistan at an affordable cost.

M-tuma
Team Members: Faith Biegon, F18; Collins Sirmah, A16; Bryson Wong, A17
Venture description: Dukas, “Mom and Pop stores,” play a critical role in Kenya’s economy.  They supply roughly 70 percent of the country’s consumer goods and are often run by women or families.  These shop owners lack information on prices, travel long distances to wholesalers, and incur high transportation costs.  We are building an online system where shopkeepers can view prices and make orders.  We then aggregate orders from multiple shopkeepers and rely on third-party transporters to deliver goods utilizing economies of scale.  Shop keepers now know prices, get goods at their doorsteps, and save on transportation costs.

SunGLOW
Team Members: Jean Damascene Ndabirora, F18; Utsav Malay, F18; Subrahmanyam Pulipaka
Venture description: Sun GLOW provides practical online and offline training and classes for solar company personnel, vocational students, and university students.  These classes and the curriculum are custom designed for the Rwandan context.  Many companies win solar contracts without the correct expertise; this results in improper, inefficient design and faulty construction. SunGLOW provides the right training, understanding of design, as well as knowledge about climate financing the companies/students can access in Rwanda and internationally to launch their products/systems/ideas.  We ensure capacity building in one of the fastest growing sectors in East Africa, renewable energy.

Energeia,
Team Members: Zerin Osho, F18; Aditya Kaushik, F17; Keerthana Chandrashekhar, F16; Sookrit Malik, A17 F18
Venture description: Energeia will enable an affordable clean energy transition which will retrofit India’s inefficient transmission system and diesel generator powered infrastructure into a reliable smart microgrid powered by renewable energy and natural gas.  The company will upgrade the existing diesel generators into natural gas hybrids which are controlled and managed by an industrial IoT platform.  This platform will integrate intermittent sources of renewable energy, map consumption to highlight energy efficiency opportunities, and allow for a smooth integration into emission-trading systems in the future.

The winners will be named tomorrow (Thursday), though the “People’s Choice” winner will be selected today.

If you’d like to know more about Edkasa (the Fletcher D-Prize winner and one of today’s competitors), check out this conversation between Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti and Sohail Ali and Bakhtawar Ali.

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Once upon of time, The Fletcher Forum was Fletcher’s premiere print publication — our twice-yearly journal of international affairs.  These days, The Forum is still Fletcher’s premiere print publication, but with a robust online presence.  And just last week, the editors of The Forum contacted me to share this news.

Some of you may already be aware of The Fletcher Forum, the student-managed journal of international affairs published at Fletcher since 1976.  This year’s editorial team has made a major effort to expand The Forum’s digital media offerings, and we’re happy to highlight the release of the first episode of The Fletcher Forum podcast.  You can find it here or (soon) in iTunes.

This short episode features a behind-the-scenes roundtable with some of the managing editors discussing the production of The Forum’s winter edition, which focused on “dueling narratives and the global battle for truth.”  Released in January, the winter issue features analytical articles from expert contributors as well as interviews with guests such as Lord Michael Dobbs, author of House of Cards.  You can read that interview online and hear more about the conversation on the podcast.  Have a listen, and keep an eye out for future episodes.

Why launch a podcast?  These comments from the editorial staff shed light on the question.

Colin Steele, F18, Managing Editor for Digital Affairs:  “Podcasts are a popular medium for many of us and our peers, and the format allows us to tell new kinds of stories in new ways.  Most of all, they’re a lot of fun to produce.”

Maria Selde, F18, Editor-in-Chief: “Digital media has been a big emphasis for us this year, and podcasting has been an important part of that effort.  I’m proud of our team for bringing this new project to life.”

Maria Ory, F19, Producer: “Producing this podcast was a great way for me to build on my previous work experience and support The Forum‘s digital development.  I’m looking forward to continuing this project through the rest of the spring and into next year.”

The Forum invites participation from incoming students each fall.  With print, web-based, and podcast content, there are ample opportunities for students with a range of interests to get involved.

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Here’s a fun admissions-season story.  One of our current MALD students told Kristen about his visa application process.  She liked the story enough that we asked him to write it up.  Here, then, is the tale of Sebastián‘s road to Fletcher and the unexpected result of his visa interview.

I first heard about Fletcher when I was doing an internship at the Colombian Ministry of Defense in 2011.  Back then, Dean Stavridis was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and the Minister of Defense of Colombia was going to meet him on official business.  I was asked to do a profile on then-Admiral Stavridis for the Minister, and while I was researching him I learned about his Fletcher education, and the School peaked my interest.

About a year later (2012), as I was in the process of moving to Washington, DC for an internship with the Colombian Embassy, I met with my brother’s friend who had lived in the city for a few years to hear her friendly advice on DC.  As we were talking, she told me that she was not living there anymore but was visiting a few friends in town.  She was living in Medford and pursuing her graduate education at Fletcher.  I immediately remembered the school where the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO got his MALD and PhD degrees, and began asking her a lot more questions about Fletcher.  It was then that I knew that, in a few years, I wanted to come to this School.

Fast forward to early 2016, when I received my acceptance letter to Fletcher.  I was very excited and eager to begin this new chapter of my life.  A few months later during the middle of the summer, I finished up my job at the OAS in DC and went to Colombia to enjoy some time at home and arrange my student visa.  I went to the appointment at the U.S. Embassy and approached the Consular officer in charge.  As soon as he saw my paperwork, his face lit up with a smile and he began speaking to me in Spanish saying: “You’re are going to Fletcher!  I went to Fletcher!”

He was very happy and excited and told me that I was going to love it.  He also talked about some of his Fletcher experiences.  This coincidence was amazing and made me feel an immediate sense of belonging to the School.  Afterwards, he said that he would throw a going-away party for me before I went back to the U.S., and that he would invite some of the Fletcher alumni in Bogotá.

A few weeks later I was invited to his place, where a bunch of Fletcher alumni from different class years and nationalities were brought together to bid farewell to an unknown guy (me), soon to join this big family.  They all spoke about their experiences while at Fletcher, their challenges, and what life after Fletcher has been for them.  All of them offered some “Fletcher advice” and then finished by saying how much they loved their time here, and how it really opened doors moving forward.  This opportunity gave me a chance to feel all the Fletcher love before I officially arrived, and it proved to be a very good omen of what my time here has become: pure joy and intellectual challenge.

The Consular Officer, Patrick (far left), and Sebastian (far right) along with two alumni and PhD candidate Roxani (next to Sebastian).

 

Students returned yesterday from their Spring Break week and I think we all share a common shock that we can see the end of the semester ahead of us.  On the other hand, January seems so long ago.  Today, Student Stories writer Kaitlyn reports on her second semester in the MALD program, one in which she has tested her organizational abilities.

It is spring semester at Fletcher, and I am the equivalent of a “sophomore” in my MALD degree, with a quarter of the program behind me.  Naturally, I did the exact same thing with my class schedule that I did as an actual sophomore in undergraduate.

I thought too many classes were interesting and decided: Heck, I’ll just take them all.

Fletcher allows you to do two cool things: take an extra half-credit class once in your MALD program, and audit language classes next door at Tufts’ Olin Center.  I wanted to do an extra half credit now, so I could have an easier schedule next year when I do my capstone project.  And I wanted to audit a French class so I could have a bit more practice before my internship this summer.

When I scheduled my classes, I ended up finding three half-credit courses that looked interesting.  Those, plus French, left me with a schedule of seven classes for the semester: three full-semester classes at Fletcher, French, and three half-semester modules.  (Most people take only four or five classes each semester.)  All of my friends who saw my schedule looked at me like I had three heads.  I admit: it did become somewhat of a juggling act during midterms, but it was not half as bad as people assumed.  And a major reason I was able to manage that course load was organization.  I made two big decisions that made my semester go much smoother: I optimized my study space, and I planned each week so I could balance studying and free time.

My Study Space

During my first semester, I had my desk in my room, which wasn’t the best place to study.  I felt too comfortable to do work.  And then in my free time I was constantly looking at my desk, thinking about work.  So I was less productive and more stressed.  This semester, I decided I needed to change it up a bit.

Bless my roommate.  She was very accommodating and let me move my desk into the corner of our common room.  And she let me put up two calendars up on the bigger wall out there.  I had a dry-erase calendar for the month, and a huge weekly schedule of sticky-notes over the desk.  This helped me develop a really organized study routine.  Every Sunday I wrote down the new weekly schedule, and each morning I could check both calendars as I walked out the door.  It was much more efficient for me than leafing through a weekly planner that often got lost in my backpack.  Having a clear separation of my work and my study space also meant I was more productive when I studied.  And it meant I got to leave my school work — even my laptop — in a different room at the end of the day.  That helped me feel more relaxed in my free time.

A Balanced Week

Every week, I had an average of three classes a day, Monday to Thursday.  And starting in March I had one class on Fridays, too.  It meant that generally, I had readings to do every night.  That was a long week by anyone’s standards and I knew I needed to make sure I didn’t get burned out.  So I had one goal: plan one night off in the middle of the week.  I found that it made me more productive when I had something to look forward to, and it was a great way to make sure I could go to extracurricular events: Social Hour on Thursdays; 101 discussions on historical issues that the Student Council organized; and parties hosted by other Fletcher folks.  The best one was the celebration of China’s Spring Festival that my roommate helped organize in February.  I planned my week around that party, and had time to bake a cake for it, too.

I also had to get creative about my study time.  Mondays, when I had four classes, even working at my reorganized desk was a struggle.  So I got off campus.  Davis Square is a lovely 20-minute walk from Fletcher and it has great coffee shops, perfect for getting my class readings done after my long Monday schedule.  There is also Mugar Café in the Fletcher building, which became my go-to place to study between classes.  It’s also close to everything, which was excellent for taking study breaks to head to on-campus events.  My favorite event was the Puppy Kissing booth that Ginn Library hosted for Valentine’s day.  (Nothing is better for productivity than spending time with a puppy.  Fact.)

All in all, managing my seven classes is just as much about my study time as it is about my non-study time.  I love all my classes, and though I’ll happily not take so many in future semesters, I don’t regret the packed schedule in the slightest.

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This is Spring Break week — one of the quietest work weeks of the year.  Though we know that plenty of our students are on or near campus, they’re not hanging out in the Hall of Flags.  Of the students who are traveling, a bunch are on student-organized treks.

There’s the team looking chilly in Russia:

And the business-attired group in Mexico:

And the travelers in Israel/Palestine:

It’s only relatively recently that student-organized treks have proliferated.  Guidelines were just adopted to ensure the safety of all participants.  Given the popularity of these three trips and the Japan trek over winter break, I imagine that more adventures are yet to come!

 

To close out this week of discussing and releasing decisions, I’m going to turn to the real heart of Fletcher — our students, staff, and faculty.  In this third post drawn from a student-compiled feature, meet the community!

Yiyi (first-year MALD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m currently studying negotiation skills, development economics, and how to analyze regional and internal conflicts at Fletcher, while taking Arabic language classes at Tufts.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I taught English in rural Yunnan, China for two years.  I was also actively involved in teachers’ training, and education projects that brought educational resources and activities to campus.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province on the east coast of China.  I completed my high school and college degrees in Minnesota, U.S.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I really loved the national parks in Maine when I visited.

Who are your favorite writers?
Chinese writer Lu Xun; Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being a teacher.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Compared to my fellow classmates, I had very limited exposure to international diplomacy, regional politics, and international law.  It’s both a challenge and an opportunity.  My learning curve has quite a good slope. 🙂

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I love engaging in stimulating conversations with my classmates, and to be able to see the same problem from different perspectives.

Cindy (second-year MALD, and Admissions Graduate Intern!)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am concentrating in International Security Studies and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.  In particular, I am interested in U.S.-Russia relations and U.S. policy towards Russia and Eurasia.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked as a 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher in rural eastern North Carolina through Teach For America.  I taught for three years alongside my husband, who is also an alumnus of Teach For America.

Where are you from?
I was born in New York, but moved down to Spring Hill, Florida when I was still a baby.  I grew up in Spring Hill, which is north of Tampa, and I definitely love orange juice and the Florida Gators!

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
When I was traveling to Russia for the first time, I had the opportunity to visit Yasnaya Polyana which is the museum-estate of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.  It was surreal to be walking around the estate, especially after having just read War and Peace.

Who are your favorite writers?
My favorite writers are actually children’s novelists, which stems from my time as an elementary school teacher.  I loved Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, and Shel Silverstein as a kid and enjoyed reading from their books to my students.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My husband Brian has been my greatest source of inspiration.  We have been together and have been best friends for the past seven years.  He motivates me to step out of my comfort zone, supports me when I am lacking confidence, and pushes me to achieve my goals.  Having him as a partner has positively changed my perspective on life, and I will always be grateful for him!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Becoming a Teach For America alumna is my greatest professional achievement.  A personal achievement was when I completed a half-marathon.  (I ran the whole time and didn’t stop!)

Which living person do you most admire?
I know this question asks for a “person,” but I would have to say both of my parents.  They have worked so hard their entire lives to raise five (yes, five) determined, successful, and incredible women.  Their sacrifices for my sisters and me have no bounds, and they are the reason I am pursuing my career goals at Fletcher.  Now that all my siblings and I are finally out of the house, I hope they can get the rest and relaxation they finally deserve!

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
The biggest challenge I have faced during my time at Fletcher has been prioritizing what is important to me.  There are countless guest speakers, book talks, information sessions, club meetings, and library workshops that all tend to overlap.  But then you have to focus on what you came to Fletcher for and make sure you complete your readings, meet with your professors, attend group meetings, and submit assignments.  Finding a balance between what is important to me and what is necessary is a struggle, but I am grateful for the abundance of opportunities at Fletcher.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Some of my most favorite moments at Fletcher have been performing at the Fletcher winter and spring recitals.  It always feels wonderful and gratifying to work hard on a song with a group of friends and see your work pay off during the performance.  It is also beautiful to see the variety of talent that Fletcher has in its faculty, staff, and student body.

Megan (PhD candidate)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am a PhD candidate in Development Economics and Econometric Impact Evaluation (self-designed field).

What did you do before Fletcher?
Prior to coming to Fletcher I worked for four years in grassroots development in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer and working for a small local non-profit.  I did my MALD in 2010-2012 and then worked as an economist for three years at the World Bank, where I designed and implemented several randomized control trial evaluations on public health and access to justice programs in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Boston, MA in Roslindale and Dorchester.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
There is a beach within a national park on the Dominican-Haitian Border called Bahia de las Aguilas.  It is a pristine beach formed where a desert meets the Caribbean.  The water is turquoise and the white sand feels like it goes on forever.

Who are your favorite writers?
I mostly read non-fiction, so I don’t have a favorite author, but I love reading about the history of civil disobedience and organizing efforts in the U.S., and also more recently about psychology.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My parents for sure.  Both are social justice activists, my dad in the labor movement as a union organizer and my mother working on a host of social issues in Boston, from public childcare to immigrant and refugee services, all while finding their way to raise a family in the city.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Listening, day in and day out.  I am privileged to be working and researching in international development.  With that privilege comes a deep responsibility to listen and then use the tools I have to make those voices heard.  I do this through large quantitative surveys designed with input from people working on the policies I evaluate.

The other thing I am most proud of is that I really try to bring my values of social justice into all the work I do, whether that is through representing PhD students in the PhD committee here at Fletcher and working for better stipends, or organizing short-term consultants for improved labor conditions at the World Bank.  If we don’t live the values we promote internationally in our own lives, what are we doing?

Which living person do you most admire?
Ecuadorian moms and dads making it happen every day for their families while living in poverty, victims who are brave enough to come forward in Colombia and start to build peace, Haitian entrepreneurs still hopeful despite so much hardship, Dominican families that give meals away even when they don’t have much.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Getting by financially, juggling working and being a student.  The other big challenge has been figuring out what I want to do when I grow up, which I have decided may just be a question that I will always carry with me.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Throughout my time at Fletcher my favorite moments have been sitting in class feeling fully inspired by my female economist professors.  As a MALD student, dancing in Fiesta Latina and playing Fletcher Fútbol were also unforgettable moments with the awesome Fletcher community.

Tom Dannenbaum (Assistant Professor of International Law)

What do you teach at Fletcher?
International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Justice.  I’m currently deciding on the subject for my third course, which will be offered for the first time next year.

What did you do before Fletcher?
Immediately prior to Fletcher, I taught at University College London.

Where are you from?
London, UK.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
As a lawyer, I feel compelled to point out that this question poses grave interpretive difficulties.  In the absence of an overlap between my favorite place and the most unique place I’ve been or visited, it’s tempting to think the question has no answer.  That can’t be what the drafter intended.  There are, of course, ways other than overlapping in which “favorite” and “most unique” could interact in their modification of “place.”  However, the structure of the sentence doesn’t privilege one over the others and they each militate in different directions.

What, then, is the essence of the question?  Read in the context of the project overall, and informed by the nature of the other questions, it seems to be to understand something about me through my relationship to place. Since the “most unique” category says more about the place and the “favorite” category says more about me, I expect that the latter is the dominant request.

For reasons to do with the personal emotions they evoke, my favorite places are the Marin Headlands overlooking San Francisco and the Pacific, Delft in the Netherlands, and Clissold Park in London.

A collateral side effect of this answer is that it should give you an idea of what it’s like to sit through one of my classes.

Who are your favorite writers?
Tim O’Brien, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jhumpa Lahiri, Harold Pinter

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My partner, Keya.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Parenting.  So far (he’s only two).

Which living person do you most admire?
If you were to go over answers to this kind of question from a few years ago, I’d wager that Aung San Suu Kyi would have been among the most popular.  Admiring an individual, rather than admiring an individual’s realization of a specific virtue in a particular context, sets one up for disappointment.

I see friends, family, colleagues, and students exhibit virtues I admire all the time.  Among those that most inspire my admiration are compassion, curiosity, integrity, and resilience.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
The perennial challenge is re-examining an idea or an argument that didn’t work.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
It’s a fantastic feeling when students have grasped a complex idea and are debating its merits from a position of mutual respect.  I’ve been fortunate to have several moments like that in my classes.

Leroy Lefleur (Associate Director of Library Services)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I am the associate director of library services at Fletcher.  In that role I help to provide oversight for reference and instruction services, collection development (selecting and purchasing materials), and access services (circulation and document delivery).  I regularly meet with students and faculty to assist with research projects and teach a variety of workshops on research strategies and library resources.  I also serve on a number of Tufts library-wide committees.

What did you do before Fletcher?
Before Fletcher I held similar roles at other universities.  I came directly to Fletcher from the libraries at the University of Rochester in New York, but prior to that I managed the library for the Schar School of Policy and Government and the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in the Washington, DC area.  I am also an alum from the Schar School.

Where are you from?
I am originally from the “mitten state,” AKA Michigan, but have lived and worked in Chicago, western New York, and Washington, DC over the years.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Indonesia — more specifically Java.  I traveled around Central Java a number of years ago, and found it to be geographically beautiful with a rich and complex history, amazing people, spectacular art and culture, and incredible food.

Who are your favorite writers?
That’s a long list, but here I’ll mention James Baldwin and Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
It may be trite to say, but my mother who just passed away last summer.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Parenting is such a difficult yet rewarding task that I’d put it high on my list of greatest achievements.

Which living person do you most admire?
The Dalai Lama

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time is always a challenge, but there are so many wonderful people at Fletcher that I wish I had the time to get to know better.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I really enjoy participating in the Annual Faculty and Staff Wait on You Dinner, so I think I’d go with that.  That said, I brought my kids to the Reunion weekend clambake last year and that was a lot of fun, too.

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Mariya is one of the busiest students I know, which makes me lucky that she continues to write for the Admissions Blog.  And not only is she busy, but she’s busy in varied international locations.  Today we’ll read about her fall and winter travels.

Hello readers, and belated Happy New Year!  My fall semester ended with reflections, and this semester, too, begins with reflections.  As I think about all the opportunities I have had at Fletcher, I cannot help but be grateful for so many unique experiences.  To give you a sense of the types of opportunities Fletcher students can pursue during their time here, I would like to highlight two international experiences that have broadened my academic horizons.

Presenting a paper in London

In November, I presented my paper titled “Religious Roots of American Democracy” at the “Democracy and Rule of Law” conference at the University of Westminster in London.  My paper explores the role of religion in the founding and shaping of American democracy and politics.  There were about 15 other scholars of different ages who traveled from all over the world (India, Turkey, Serbia, Italy, Canada, Poland, to name a few) to meet in this intellectual forum, share their research, and solicit feedback.  I was impressed by the diversity of topics presented at the conference.  A German scholar, for example, gave a presentation about heavy metal screaming as a form of cultural resistance and freedom of expression.  A practicing lawyer talked about the principle of legality in the EU’s economic crisis management as it related to Greece’s recession.  And a research fellow shared his paper on whether an Italian law was capable of guaranteeing the rights of beggars against the will of the majority.  I was the only American in the group and my presentation on religion in democracy drew numerous questions.

Although intended mainly for the scholars who would later refine their papers for journal publication by the Center for the Study of International Peace and Security, which hosted the conference, the event was open to the public.  In fact, I met a couple from France who approached me afterward to say they enjoyed my presentation and we engaged in a lengthy dialogue contrasting our countries’ religious freedom laws.  My time in London was very short — literally two full days — but it was nice to connect with my Fletcher scholarship donor, Kate Hedges, who kindly showed me pockets of the city a tour bus would have skipped.  I squeezed in a few touristy excursions before catching a flight back.

While my paper will not be published until April, check out my op-ed published in the Kennedy School Review about the role of religion in the public eye.

Learning Middle Eastern politics in Beirut

In January, after completing a half-credit “J-term” (January course) on lobbying at the Harvard Kennedy School, I flew to Lebanon for the weeklong Beirut Exchange Program.  Nadim Shehadi, director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, encouraged me to apply to this opportunity, given my regional interests in Middle Eastern politics.  A group of 12 professionals from around the world engaged with politicians, journalists, and civil society activists to get an in-depth picture of Lebanese politics.  With the upcoming election in May and the changed electoral law, politicians and Lebanese citizens alike wait with anticipation the unfolding future of their country.  It was fascinating to hear different perspectives on sectarian political representation, Palestinian and Syrian refugee crises, and Lebanon’s 2006 war as it relates to regional geopolitics.

The agenda was jam-packed with lectures, workshops, and a day trip to Tripoli, an hour north of the capital.  There was little time for tourism, but a group of us took advantage of our evenings to explore the downtown nightlife, admire the close proximity of mosques and churches, and indulge in delicious Lebanese cuisine.  I fell in love with the creamy hummus, fresh tabbouleh and perfectly seasoned moutabbal (also known as baba ganoush, an eggplant dip mixed with tahini).  And as always happens on all my international trips, I met a Fletcher alum in the program!  A middle-aged media commentator from Pakistan studied under the same capstone advisor as me: Professor Richard Shultz.

Both of these international experiences were incredible, and would not have been possible without generous support from the Fletcher Educational Enrichment Fund, the Graduate Travel Support Program of the Provost’s Office, the Dean’s Fund, and various campus institutes.  I feel incredibly grateful and blessed to be at a place like Fletcher where students are supported in the opportunities that knock their doors.

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