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I’m sure that you’ve noticed that I refer to the Social List a lot. It’s both a thread to weave together the student community, and also a glimpse into student life for those of us who stand outside the window looking in. For the second year, I thought I’d capture and annotate all the messages that circulated on a day. (This is easy for me to do, as I receive the messages in digest form.) On March 30, the digest arrived in four email portions, with many messages dedicated to a smaller group of topics. Please find below the topics of discussion, with the briefest of explanations of the message content.
Social List Digest Table of Contents:
Join us, volunteer and help the community! – Fletcher Cares: Fletcher Cares is a student group that supports both the Fletcher community and groups in the local area.
Dean Stavridis, Ben Affleck, and Bill Gates: Dean Stavridis testified before Congress alongside Ben Affleck and Bill Gates. A surprising group!
Future Opportunities & Challenges for Evaluation in the UN – April 1, 12:30-1:30pm: Notices of events can be posted on two different lists, one of which is the Social List.
Editing Skills Workshop, Wednesday: Once a year, the Director of the Writing Center holds an editing skills workshop for those who work on the various Fletcher journals and any other community member who might want to sharpen their editing skills.
Continuing the “Food for thought…” Conversation – Wednesday: Previous to this post, a student had raised a question linked to attitudes about race. Other students created a forum for discussion of the issue.
EVENT THIS WEDNESDAY: Navigating Social Identities in the Workplace: Another event.
Grant Writing Workshop: Monday: And more writing help, offered by the Humanitarian Action Society
Dandiya Raas/Garba this Friday at Tufts!: Indian snacks, Bollywood music, and dancing.
New Date for Slow Food Brew Off: I’m not even sure what this was, but food and brew were involved.
Shared taxi from Logan around 1AM?: Transportation shares — a popular Social List topic.
Giveaway: Korean spicy noodles: Too many packets of spicy noodles? The Social List can help.
Technology and Inclusive Innovation: The IBM Story in Africa: Yet another event.
MONDAY: #RealTalk: All the things about post-Fletcher life you are afraid to ask: Students helping each other as they apprehensively approach the future.
Bringing back an old Fletcher tradition: the thesis-ku: More about this topic soon. This was the top topic on the day’s Social List digest.
Selling: Printer & Corkboard: Random combination, but just about anything can find a home.
Applications DUE TONIGHT to lead the Fletcher International Migration Group (IMG)!: One generation of Student Group leaders finding the next generation.
A few more female hosts needed for Open House!: Yes, the Admissions Office uses the Social List to connect with students, including when overnight hosts are needed for visitors.
SEEKING: Drums for Cricket World Cup semi finals: This message led to conversations about the drums, cricket, and the World Cup results.
SEEKING: Sewing Kit: Not all needs are as unusual as World Cup drums.
First Years: Don’t Fret: One of my favorite annual themes, in which second-year students reassure first-years that everything (exams, internship search, etc., etc.) will work out.
BFA – Research Associate Apr 1st deadline: Students often hear about, and share, job notices from friends, former employers, or other networks.
SEEKING: Secret dog training talent: After this, it will be secret no longer.
Have you worked in luxury retail?: The message does not reveal the mystery behind this question.
SUMMER SUBLET: Housing is a hot topic throughout the spring.
In total, 82 messages were sent to the Social List between 4:00 on March 29 and 3:59 on March 30, when the digest was compiled. I haven’t listed all the topics that occurred more than once, but you get the idea. The Social List is where events are posted, random questions appear, and things/jobs/housing/support are offered/requested, creating conversation and connections between and among students.
Tagged with: Social List
Though you wouldn’t guess it from the number of times we scheduled and rescheduled, one of my favorite things to do around here is to grab my trusty co-pilot, Kristen, and head out to the Hall of Flags to chat with students for the blog. For those who haven’t visited, the Hall of Flags is the main gathering spot at Fletcher, and the best place to catch up with folks. And that’s what we did last Tuesday. Because we’re so close to the end of the semester, we asked everyone about a highlight of their year.
As soon as we walked into the HoF, we saw Terry and Stephanie, both of whom were included in the post about last year’s HoF visit. This time, Stephanie was selling tickets to “Americana Night” and Terry was keeping her company.
Terry (MALD ’15): The highlight of my year is Fletcher Follies, which hasn’t actually happened yet. Last year’s Follies was my favorite event of my whole Fletcher experience so far. It’s fun making videos and also seeing how creative people are in terms of their execution of the videos. And it’s a highlight from a social perspective. It brings together students, staff, and faculty in a collegial way leading up to finals. Everyone is very stressed out by that time in the semester, but it’s a fun way for all the students to come together in one room.
Stephanie (MALD ’15): I’m looking forward to Follies as well, but I’m more excited about the Follies videos I’m making. I’m doing four — a Harry Potter themed one, and a “30 Rock” parody called “160 Pack,” and we also did a “Shining” themed one.
Stephanie probably listed all four, but I appear to have missed one.
Marie (MALD ’15): The highlight of my year is my class with Prof. Khan, Historian’s Art. It’s a phenomenal class. It goes through great moments in history like World War I and the Cuban Missile Crisis. It assumes we know about the events and Prof. Khan focuses on the time leading up to them and who the key players are.
Ravi (MIB graduate and IBGC Research Fellow): My highlight was a perfect week when, on Monday, Bloomberg wrote about Mark Zuckerberg’s speech in Barcelona and, in the same paragraph, referenced our Digital Evolution Index, saying that the global investment community agrees with our research findings. Then, the week ended on Friday with Bill Gates tweeting out the article that Bhaskar (Chakravorti), Rusty (Tunnard), and I wrote in the Harvard Business Review to his 20 million followers, and it got retweeted nearly 5000 times. It was the most perfect week with the best bookends that one could hope for.
Stephen (MA ’15) (camera shy): Last week we did a class trip down to the Naval War College. We got to see a lot of speakers and visit downtown Newport. We had a talk on North Korea, Taiwan defense, and Chinese anti-access.
Next we chatted with Morgan, who like Stephanie, was selling tickets — in this case to the Diplomat’s Ball. Check, cash, or Venmo.
Morgan (MALD ’15):
We had a sending off party for one of our friends who recently got a wonderful job opportunity in Washington, DC. The energy in the room was incredibly supportive, nurturing and all those good things. It was a wonderful experience, full of love and light and appreciation for each other.
Mary (MALD graduate and current Assistant Director of Student Affairs, who as part of her job responsibilities, attends the social events on campus): Africana Night was a highlight. It has struggled over the years, including once when it was snowed out. This year’s was the best Africana Night I had ever seen. It was very high energy and the acts were high quality.
Sid (MIB ’15): For spring break, I went with Fletcher friends, seven of us, to the Bahamas. We went diving and the instructor asked us where we were from, and we were all from different countries, including Korea, Thailand, India, Japan, U.S., and Nepal. He was really surprised and asked how we came together.
When we finished talking to Sid, all system broke down. We spotted Meg, a PhD student, and went to chat with her. Then Ben, another PhD student, came along and we pulled him over. And then we interrupted both of them when Prof. Burgess came along.
Prof. Burgess (Director of the LLM Program): One of my high points was being able to have coffee, along with all the other LLM students, with Judge Joyce Aluoch, (F08) the Vice President of the International Criminal Court. She joined our group to provide both an overview of the activities of the ICC and to chat informally about current issues facing the court and questions of international law generally. It’s a special aspect of Fletcher that opportunities like this exist, so that students like our LLM students have an opportunity to meet and interact with very experienced and senior international lawyers.
Them: We’re mentor and mentee.
Us: Which way does it go? Who’s mentor and who’s mentee?
Meg: Our PhD cohort is the best ever. Last September, eight of us started. We have a diverse group. We just jelled very quickly during Orientation and then we accepted the four internals (who had completed the MALD) into our coven. We all get along really well, and we fight like brothers and sisters. We adopted Ben into our cohort.
Ben: I’m jealous. Having the large number of external admits last year has broadened the community in an exciting way.
Brionne (MALD ’15): I’m leaving for Washington, DC tomorrow, but today I’m presenting at the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee about equity inclusion for Fletcher students. I completed classes in January, and starting next week I’ll be working at USAID as a presidential appointee. I’ll be serving as a Congressional Liaison Officer, supporting Agency priorities on Africa and democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, meaning I’ll be pushing for incentives that President Obama spearheaded, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Throughout this semester, while waiting for a security clearance, I’ve been embraced by the community and supported as I navigate my transition into the professional world. The administration has been especially supportive as I completed my capstone. I’ve continued to build on my relationships with students and also continued to work on ongoing student efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in line with the Fletcher Strategic Plan.
By then, an hour had passed and it was time for Kristen and me to return to our day-to-day work. We only managed one blog trip to the Hall of Flags in 2014-15, but we’ll be back, hopefully more than once, next year.
Tagged with: Hall of Flags
Today is April 20: Enrollment decisions (as well as decisions on whether to take a spot on the waitlist) are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT (UTC-4).
Today is also Patriots’ Day, a public holiday in Massachusetts, and the Admissions Office (as well as the rest of Tufts University) is closed.
Patriots’ Day means the Boston Marathon! Thirteen Fletcher students are participating as members of the Tufts Marathon Team. Cheer for Stephanie Brown, Tim Grant, Natalie Lam, Kelly Liu, Conner Maher, Tim Magner, Chris Maroshegyi, Alex Nisetich, Gustavo Perez Ara, Tim Roberts, Alex Taylor, Peter Varnum, and Mollie Zapata! To join TMT, runners pledge to raise funds for nutrition and fitness programs. If you’re also inclined to support programs of that type, it is still possible to support one or more of the runners!
The runners have been training hard, even during our epic winter.
Tagged with: Boston Marathon
With Commencement only about five weeks away, we’ll be reading only a few more posts from graduating bloggers Diane and Liam. Today, Liam provides his “Annotated Curriculum,” in which he lays out his academic path through Fletcher. (You might also want to read Mirza’s Annotated Curriculum from last spring.) It’s worth noting here that Liam’s Fletcher experience is not typical for the majority of students, but it does represent that of a significant subset — officers who are sponsored by their branch of the U.S. military. Their coursework looks much the same as that of any other student, but they rarely pursue a summer internship and they don’t need to find a post-Fletcher job. Finally, Fletcher students must fulfill a Capstone Requirement, for which many students write a traditional academic thesis. It’s not uncommon for the terms Capstone and thesis to be used interchangeably.
Liam, MALD 2015, United States
U.S. Army Infantry Officer; deployments to Iraq (2007-2008) and Afghanistan (2010, 2012)
U.S. Army Security Force Assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan
Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Return to the Army with a broader understanding of global affairs and the role the Army can play in them; selection as an Infantry Battalion Commander
- Role of Force
- International Organizations
- Processes of International Negotiation
- The Globalization of Politics and Culture for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan
My first semester helped me lay the foundation for my coursework at Fletcher. I met with my academic advisor, Prof. Shultz, very early in the semester, which set me on the right path for my course load, as he helped lay out a logical course progression. Role of Force and Processes of International Negotiation were both mandatory courses in my Fields of Study — setting the stage for all my follow-on classes, and I wanted to knock out my ILO requirement early on with International Organizations. I rounded the semester out with one regionally focused course, which balanced perfectly. I found the semester to be an excellent mix of papers and final exams, which kept me from having a frantic end of the semester.
- Policy and Strategy in War
- Analytical Frameworks
- Modern Terrorism and Counterterrorism
- Peace Operations
Following what I had learned in the fall, I focused heavily on Security Studies this semester, although Peace Operations also counted towards my coursework in the INCR Field of Study. I fulfilled my quantitative requirement with Analytical Frameworks, which taught me a lot of valuable skills. Again, this semester was a good mix of papers and finals that enabled me to budget my time throughout the spring. At this point I also started working with Professor Shultz on my capstone ideas so I could spend time over the summer doing research.
Army ROTC, MIT
The Army required that I be “gainfully employed” over the summer, so I spent my days helping out at MIT’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program. The cadets were all gone at training for the summer, so I worked on information-sharing platforms for the unit to use in the fall, but also found myself with plenty of time to do baseline research on U.S. National Security Strategy, as well as where the Army fits in a changing environment, to help frame the “big picture” for my capstone. I also had a fair amount of time over the summer to work on my Spanish skills on my own, as well as publish several military-related blog posts.
- Internal Conflicts and War
- Gender, Culture, and Conflict
- Foundations of International Cybersecurity
- Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies
This semester proved to be very challenging, as I had five group presentations with group papers due, but then had no finals. Needless to say, the second half of the semester was a blur. It was a very Security Studies heavy semester, but the gender course with Prof. Mazurana and Prof. Stites really stood out for me, and helped me understand an aspect of conflict that I’d never put much thought towards during my time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lastly, I used the Internal Conflicts class as the incubator for my thesis and was able to finish the majority of the Iraq portion of it.
- The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise
- Introduction to Economic Theory
- The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs
- Capstone Independent Study
I made the mistake of putting off my economics requirement until my final semester, so I had to use a class credit for it during the spring. I decided to go with an Independent Study with Professor Shultz to finish my thesis and ensure I had the time necessary to put effort towards it. I was a history major as an undergraduate, so Prof. Khan’s new class really interested me. Last, with U.S. National Security Strategy “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific, I wanted to get at least one course in that region into my coursework.
Tagged with: Liam
Though my post is belated, I want to ensure recognition of Katerina Voutsina, who this winter was awarded an Overseas Press Club Foundation Scholar Award. First, let’s let Katerina describe her path to Fletcher’s MALD program, which she concluded at the end of last semester.
I came to Fletcher in January 2013 with the desire to delve deeper into European Union Affairs and economics. Since 2010 and until my first day in the Hall of Flags, I was reporting on the social impact of the European financial crisis in Greece for the political newspaper TA NEA in Athens. As a multimedia reporter and digital native, I learned to tell true stories with video, audio and interactives. In 2011, I joined a three-person investigative team at the newspaper. Our stories reached millions of readers on the newspaper’s print and online editions, and showed me the impact of quality journalism in my own country. However, the complexity of the crisis — both economically and politically — reaffirmed my desire to return to graduate school.
My Fletcher journey was an intellectually stimulating experience: a mixture of challenges and joys. Over the past two years, I have tailored my MALD degree to acquiring the analytical skills needed to understand policymaking in the EU, as well as the history and inherent politics of its institutions and neighbors. My coursework in Macroeconomics, EU Political Economy, EU-US Relations, Islam and Politics, Religion and Conflict, Forced Migration, International Human Rights Law, and Analytic Frameworks in Public Policy have equipped me to identify impactful — but complex — stories, analyze the main players and explain the consequences to the reader. I am grateful for my professors, whose passion for their field of work and mentorship encouraged me to work harder and delve deeper into the subjects of study; and I am thankful for the inspiring Fletcher friends I made here. I am excited to be joining the Brussels bureau of The Wall Street Journal in May. I believe that journalism is a form of public service and I look forward to writing on topics that would serve that purpose in the future.
And now the press release describing the award:
NEW YORK CITY, February 20, 2015: Katerina Voutsina, a graduate student at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, was awarded an Overseas Press Club (OPC) Foundation Scholar Award at the Foundation’s 2015 Annual Scholar Awards Luncheon held at the Yale Club in New York City. Acclaimed foreign correspondent, author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger was the keynote speaker. Voutsina was among 15 aspiring foreign correspondents selected by a panel of leading journalists from a pool of 175 applicants from 50 different colleges and universities. She is the first Tufts student in 25 years to win an OPC Foundation award.
Voutsina won the Standard & Poor’s Award for Economic and Business Reporting as well as an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Wall Street Journal bureau in Brussels. In her winning essay she questioned whether Jean-Claude Junker is the right choice to lead the European Commission. Voutsina received the award from Natalie Evertson, S&P Capital IQ.
The award winners were also honored with a reception at Reuters the night before the luncheon, hosted by Reuters’ editor-in-chief Stephen Adler. On Saturday they received risk management and situational awareness training from Global Journalist Security at The Associated Press headquarters in New York City. They also met privately with editors from BuzzFeed and The New York Times in a special breakfast held the morning of the awards presentation.
The OPC Foundation is the nation’s largest and most visible scholarship program encouraging aspiring journalists to pursue careers as foreign correspondents. Media organizations at the luncheon included AP, Bloomberg, CBS News, GlobalPost/GroundTruth Project, IBT Media, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal.
Tagged with: Cool stuff!
PowerShare is the real-time mobile solution that allows governments and voters to communicate, prioritize, and achieve the goals of their community. Conflict and partisanship increase when governments and their constituents do not communicate effectively. Elected officials increasingly demand accurate and timely information about what the majority of their constituents want to achieve. PowerShare offers a mobile and web-based solution: Voters submit concerns, PowerShare transforms concerns into goals, prioritizes goals based on the number of voters concerned, and representatives provide feedback on those priorities based on their expertise.
Samata is a community radio and podcast network that seeks to change prevalent attitudes towards gender norms and domestic violence. Voiced by survivors of gender-based violence and their allies, Samata’s programs will feature discussion groups, storytelling, and advice designed to empower women and their communities to think differently.
The team pitch sessions and award presentation are open to the public. If you’re in the area, plan to stop by and support the Fletcher teams! Good luck to PowerShare and Samata!
Tagged with: Business competitions
With most graduating students either just done with or still toiling over their Capstone Projects, and with incoming students inquiring about support for research, I thought I would share this notice from last month inviting students to apply for capstone research grants. I can’t guarantee that this exact opportunity will be available again next year, but students who plan carefully can find sources of support for their research.
The Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs at the Fletcher School announces research funding opportunities for Fletcher students. In accordance with its mission to sponsor research on the role of innovation and technological change, the Hitachi Center seeks to provide funding to advance student research in these fields.
The Center will fund student research projects for current capstones, or research that will be conducted over the summer of 2015 that leads to future capstones, on the role of technology in international affairs.
Research proposals that focus on the following areas will be given priority:
- Technology and economic development, in particular ICT4D
- Technology and agriculture, the environment, education, financial services, health, human security, democracy, security and terrorism
- Global technology industries
- “Next Generation” Infrastructure: Global trends in the evolution of social infrastructure (infrastructure that supports migration of data/information across platforms, and dependability)
Students must be enrolled in a degree program at The Fletcher School and plan to spend the summer of 2015 engaged in research for a graduate program capstone project, dissertation or the equivalent. Priority will be given to: 1) projects that are the most closely related to the Center’s areas of interest; and 2) are related to capstone research. In addition, grantees should be willing to write up a brief summary and do a poster presentation of their research by October 2015, to be shared with the Hitachi Center Board.
Students interesting in applying for this funding should provide:
- A research proposal of no more than three pages
- A timeline of the summer research plan
- A proposed budget (including any other expected or potential sources of funding)
- A letter of support from a faculty capstone project advisor
Tagged with: Hitachi Center
Recently, Paula Armstrong (a second-year MALD student) wrote to tell me about her recent involvement in community diversity-related issues. She said,”I’m part of a group of students who wrote a memo to Dean Stavridis last December about fostering diversity and inclusion at Fletcher. Since then, we have been planning a number of events to increase discussion of these issues, as well as of social justice more broadly.” Today, she’ll describe some of these events, which are open for prospective students who may be visiting the area.
Students come to Fletcher from a wide range of backgrounds and go off to work in all corners of the world after graduating. As a student body, it’s therefore important for us to think critically about diversity and inclusion. These topics shape both who we are and the environments we will find ourselves working in. Three student-planned events in March and April highlight these issues:
Film Screening – The House I Live In, Wednesday, March 4
o The House I Live In explores the global “war on drugs” and its destructive impact on black Americans. Approximately 20 Fletcher students attended the screening and participated in the discussion that followed. Facilitated by Seth Lippincott, second-year MALD, this discussion focused on the domestic implications and global impact of the “war on drugs,” as well as on how to engage in a dialogue with other students and professors to connect the issues of race and inequality in the United States to the Fletcher curriculum. Students also weighed in about the importance of discussing the negative consequences of certain U.S. public policies and linking this discussion back to international work post-Fletcher.
Panel Discussion – Navigating Social Identities in the Workplace, Wednesday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., Mugar 200
o Hosted by the Ralph Bunche Society for Diversity in International Affairs, Global Women, Fletcher LGBTQA, and the Office of Career Services
o At Fletcher, we know that who you are and where you come from do not affect your intellectual capabilities. We also understand, however, that conscious and unconscious biases, based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and other aspects of our social identity, in the U.S. and abroad, can have a profound impact on how we are viewed and treated. This presents both the challenge to manage the negative implications of these biases in our own careers, and the opportunity to be allies in the workforce for colleagues and clients who are targeted or marginalized. The goal of this panel is to offer a space for Fletcher students to have a dialogue about the opportunities and challenges that they have faced in their work environments, domestically and abroad, associated with their social identities. Come hear from other Fletcher students who have tackled issues regarding their social identity in the U.S. and abroad. Also learn more about two Fletcher alumni associations, Global Women and the Fletcher Alumni of Color Association, that offer support navigating your career upon graduation.
Workshop — The Art of Inclusive Leadership, Saturday, April 11, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Cabot 7th Floor
o Facilitated by Diane Goodman, Ed.D, Diversity and Social Justice Trainer and Consultant
o Join your fellow Fletcher students in a dynamic, interactive workshop to develop concrete communication, interpersonal, and cultural competence skills to be an inclusive leader. Students will have the opportunity to explore their leadership attributes, share their experiences, apply concepts to real world scenarios, and gain the skills and knowledge to lead diverse and inclusive programs in domestic and international contexts. Lunch will be provided.
Tagged with: Outside the classroom
As admitted applicants make their decision to enroll at Fletcher, they then turn their attention to arranging housing for September. Our blogger, Diane, lived in Blakeley Hall last year (2013-2014) and gathered some thoughts on living there from her fellow dorm-mates. I should note that the majority of our students live off-campus, in apartments in surrounding communities, but for some new students, a room in Blakeley is just right. Also, last summer (2014), the Blakeley kitchen was renovated, expanded, and improved, taking care of some of the issues that existed a year ago. Here are Diane’s reflections:
For many incoming students, particularly those new to Boston, the question of where to live can be quite daunting. In my first year at Fletcher, I chose to live in Blakeley Hall, a dormitory specifically for Fletcher students. Much like any housing situation, living in Blakeley has its advantages and disadvantages. Blakeley has space for around 80 students. Each student has a private bedroom within a suite that has a living room shared with one or two other students. There is one bathroom on each floor, shared between four or five people (two suites). The kitchen, common room, and laundry room are shared by everyone. There are seven separate towers, each with its own door, and they do not interconnect. So what does this mean for a student who chooses to live at Blakeley, and what kind of students decide to live there? I interviewed a few students who lived there with me last year to capture the different experiences they had.
1) Your favorite thing about living in Blakeley: My favorite things about living in Blakeley were the spontaneous moments of fun that were enabled by living with 80 other Fletcher students: participating in an impromptu cricket match or poker game; sharing a drink or meal with others on a Monday night, just because; and the always lively discussions on topics such as nuclear proliferation, Pakistani politics, or Tibet’s struggle for independence, which were a regular part of a dinner conversation.
2) Your least favorite aspect of living in Blakeley: Sharing a bathroom with four other people, sharing a fridge with 12, and having to go outside to get to the kitchen.
3) Your Blakeley memory: I will remember the kindness and generosity of my fellow Blakeley residents when they offered to share their home-cooked Indian meals, apple pies, and Thanksgiving feasts.
1) Your favorite thing: The three-minute commute to class.
2) Your least favorite aspect: The towers are not interconnected.
3) Your Blakeley memory: Unexpectedly getting amazing spiced tea from Elba on the way to class in the morning.
1) Your favorite thing: My favorite aspect of living at Blakeley was the community. I got to live and learn with 83 wonderful people. Whenever I needed a break from studying, I always went to the kitchen to have tea and talk. There were parties, barbecues, and Game of Thrones evenings. There were midnight birthday celebrations and snowball fights. Living at Blakeley helped me make many close friendships, and I am so grateful that I have those people in my life.
2) Your least favorite aspect: The shared kitchen. So many people in one kitchen: it got rather cozy at times. I got to try some amazing food, though!
3) Your Blakeley memory: My Blakeley memory is our “Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner” that was held the Sunday before the actual holiday. Thanksgiving is a big celebration in my family, and I wanted to share the tradition with my friends. With the help of many Blakeley residents, we made dinner for about 50 people — including two 20-lb turkeys, 15 lbs of mashed potatoes, 10 lbs of apple crisp, salad, stuffing, cornbread, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, brownies, and more. It was incredible to see how many people pitched in to help with the cooking and the decoration of the common room. It was a fun night, and it helped distract us from thoughts of our upcoming finals!
1) Your favorite thing: It’s the perfect place to get to know your new classmates well and adjust to a new environment or country!
2) Your least favorite aspect: The space constraint.
3) Your Blakeley memory: Impromptu conversations over food in the common kitchen!
1) Your favorite thing: Being able to duck back home for a coffee break between classes.
2) Your least favorite aspect: Overcrowding in the kitchen.
3) Your Blakeley memory: Too many. Here’s a random one: epic essay-drafting all-nighter in the common room near exam period with Fedra, Clare, Cilu, Caleb, Juanita, and other sleep-deprived supporting characters.
1) Your favorite thing: Feeling of community — I made friends from all over the world. The kitchen was one of my favorite places (also one of the reasons that prompted me to move out) as I got to make new friends.
2) Your least favorite aspect: The kitchen and the laundry room were too far from my room, especially during winters.
3) Your Blakeley memory: FRIENDS!
1) Your favorite thing: My favorite thing about living in Blakeley was the chance to become good friends with people from all over the world. I think living in a dorm together inevitably builds a special sense of camaraderie among Blakeley residents that’s otherwise harder to come by in a graduate program.
2) Your least favorite aspect: My least favorite thing about living in Blakeley is having to share a kitchen with 80+ other people.
3) Your Blakeley memory: My favorite Blakeley memory is Thanksgiving 2013 — everyone cooked and ate together and there was truly a feeling of Blakeley being a second family for all of us.
Diane, Australia (that’s me):
1) Your favorite thing: Being able to take a nap between classes.
2) Your least favorite aspect: The kitchen, particularly if you don’t live in a tower that interconnects with it.
3) Your Blakeley memory: The snow day — everyone went to Fletcher Field and had a giant snowball fight, and then we came inside and made pancakes and hot chocolate.
So you can see, living in Blakeley can be lively, convenient, entertaining, and full of fun, but it also has its downsides, particularly if you like to cook a lot on your own. I am glad I got to experience an American dorm, and was able to live for a year on the Tufts campus, which is beautiful in all seasons.
Last week I came to a sudden realization that I had never written anything, or had a student write, about exams. Neither midterms nor finals. Seemed like a major oversight, since exams certainly have an impact on students’ graduate school experience. Aditi has plugged that gap by writing about the most recent round of midterms.
Spring break this semester was a much-needed pause from our busy Fletcher lives. Between midterms and various internship and job applications, all of us at Fletcher were pretty much at maxed-out levels of exhaustion!
Midterms are usually a combination of exams, presentations, and papers, depending on the classes you take. For instance, my Econometrics class had an in-class, closed-book traditional exam, while my Financial Inclusion class had a group presentation. I personally found midterms to be somewhat more stressful this semester than in the fall, since one of my classes is at the Friedman School, which follows a slightly different schedule than Fletcher. Although the advantage of the mismatched schedules was that my exams and papers were spread out over two weeks, the downside was that my “midterm week” lasted twice as long.
In addition to midterms, if you happen to be taking half-credit courses, then those classes are either beginning or ending (depending on which half of the semester they are scheduled for) while you’re trying to focus on exams. In my case, I am taking Advanced Evaluation and Learning, which takes place over the second half of the semester, so as we were studying for midterms and preparing for presentations, those of us in this class were also trying to keep our heads above water with all the assigned reading.
But of course, midterms come and go. The major stress during spring semester midterms is related to the internship and job hunt process, since everyone is trying to balance applications and interviews with their coursework, other activities, and campus jobs. It definitely began to feel like the universe had conspired to make sure all deadlines fell into the same two-week period.
In the middle of all my stress and exhaustion, a friend said something that both made me laugh and also gave me a lot of perspective, when I complained to her about how hard grad school is. “Yeah, it’s hard — but it’s hard in a really easy way. Exams, papers, and presentations…let’s compare that for a second to the issues we’re trying to learn about: Poverty, terrorism, malnutrition…. Give me grad school any day!”
So now you know why I’m complaining about midterms on this blog instead of by talking to my friends.
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