Photo Courtesy Of: Minnesota Historical Society

Even though Martin Luther King Day was a few days ago, I wanted to share a post I was thinking about writing throughout the day but didn’t get to with all the excitement of roommates coming home and Fletcher reunions and bday parties to attend.

I grew up in a family that values contribution to society. My parents met and married in Washington, DC during the late 1960s in the heat and excitement of the civil rights movement. Both of them were working on the hill and studying or teaching politics at the time. I was fortunate to grow-up hearing many stories about the thrill of living in DC during that period in time. I’m sure my own interests and work with International Center on Nonviolent Conflict have been heavily influenced by these values, and the experiences they afforded me throughout my upbringing. And I think it is because of their passion for these issues that each MLK day my father would dust off the record player, dig through the few crates of his remaining record collection, and pull out the one or two records he had with Martin Luther King speeches and interviews. I still remember the cover of the album and the sound of MLK’s voice scratchy from the record player, booming through our house on a cold wintry MLK day.

And so before going for a run, scanning the course catalogs to map out potential class combinations for my last semester, picking up housemates at the airport, and catching up over “family dinner’ and drinks, with the urging of my sister, I made a point to honor this great tradition, plugging my Mac into the living room speakers, pulling up some speeches on YouTube (oh, how the times have changed…) and playing several of Dr. King’s speeches and interviews to reflect on his thoughtful words, his character, his insights, and the importance of his work in the lives that we are able to live today.

I encourage you to all turn off your distractions at some point this week and do the same.

I Have a Dream

“I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” Part 1, Part 2, and Full Text

Dr. King “In His Own Words” with NBC News


Fab Annie

I wanted to dedicate this day to my dear friend Annie. Today she is getting her new birthday as her stem cell transplant, aka Jerome, is transfered into her exuberant body through the miracles of modern science.

I’m thinking of her especially, today, put on my purple Girls Rock DC shirt in her honor, but each day I read her Care Pages Blog or status updates, I am moved by her amazing courage and spirit. She is just one of those phenomenal women you may be so lucky to find and friend in your life.

Annie and met in undergrad at GWU and soon thereafter fell for each other, most notably through our Biological Anthropology class (awesome) and our crews became one, stoopin it up in front of the student center and generating all kinds of (somewhat tame) raucous adventures across the GWU campus. Post-school days we worked to form a Women’s Group to bring together awesome women from different corners and pockets of DC for fun, learning, discussion, adventures, and more fun. Annie is one of those connectors and we managed to bring together some pretty phenomenal women who I continue to appreciate and cross paths with even since I’ve left DC. We also had some stellar non-stop chatter lunch dates at Java Green when we both worked in non-profits in downtown DC.

In addition to being a kick-ass chick, working her tiny buttocks off to improve the world (e.g. helping to found Grrls Rock DC), bringing her raging dance floor skills and incredible energy and spirit wherever she goes, Annie is one of the best friends one could hope for. She is one solid stone in many peoples lives and it shows when you get together with her and/or meet any of her other friends. Let’s just say the love pours!

So, a toast and cheers to Annie! I know she’s gonna rock this day just like she does every other day, but today I also hope she can feel the kind of love and support from friends (and family) that she has given so much to over the years.

Rage it like a Grannie Annie!


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.


You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.


But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


By: Jenny Joseph

Just me and my mustache

It’s mid-October. Baseball and midterms season. Welcome to grad-school: Take 2!

So here I am, in the library on a Thurs. night, hungry, unsure how it is already mid-October, feeling the gruel of being in the midst the ~2 weeks of midterms, wishing for warmer weather, and anxious for this weekend. This Saturday we have a double header in the Fletcher School community with the first cultural night of the year, Africana Night, followed by the school’s “official unofficial” band, Los Fletcheros’ first gig of the year!!!

But what’s really gotten me (distracted and) excited this evening is an email from the folks over at MOVEMBER. What is Movember you ask? Mustache growing + Month of November = Raising money towards and awareness of Men’s Health! Every year students at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy organize a group to grow mustaches (at school) and raise money (online) for this sweet cause. The results are filled with fun and “making fun” while addressing this important issue.

Check out the Movember site here, and consider participating in the mustache-growing extravaganza next month, or donating to a fellow chap/friend/Fletcher student who does!

Stay tuned for profiles of some of Fletcher’s Movember participants!

When I was nine years old my family lived in Bangkok, Thailand for three months. It wasn’t until recently I realized the wit and fearlessness my parents must have had  in taking my sister and I, ages 9 and 13, out of school and in tow for our first trip abroad.  We  spent Christmas with my aunt and uncle in San Francsico before boarding the plane in January, Tokyo then Bangkok, 1992.

I’ve been thinking about those three months a lot lately. My sister could tell the story better and she does. I chime in but mostly to confirm the images I still have in my head. I knew one day I’d be back and here, eighteen years and a world of reasons later, sitting in 52A with grateful goodbye tears streaming that I find myself like you might one point amongst an infinite number along a full circle.

There are so many events, images, and stories to tell from those three months. The smell of stepping off the plane and onto the tarmac, long walks through busy streets to the bus stop, to the  market, to the University pool, stretching of sheets to fit the beds, Beatles duets while washing dishes,  train rides through the country sides, slash and burning fields burning in the night, vendors meeting a hard bargain with (me) “the baby”, cockroach mortuaries on the laundry floor, learning Thai from “Mr. Dang” on a cassette  tape, incense sticks on spirit houses, intricate daily flower arrangements, making offerings to monks in morning, Buddhist temples,  rose apples, learning to love and learn through living, the meaning of graciousness and filial piety.

I remember before leaving Thailand our friends and Dad’s colleagues at the University held an elaborate farewell luncheon for our family.  There were so many to thank and bid farewell, toasts and speeches to give, gifts to give and receive and a banquet of food to devour. Dad said, my sister and I were to be prepared to speak, give our thanks and goodbyes. I remember the long table was set for several courses and crowded with different sized cups and glasses. The cashew chicken oozed thick and dark brown with purple peppers overflowing on the pink and white plates.

At thirteen, mature and confident speaking in front of a table full of faculty and family friends, Clare stood and dutifully delivered on Dad’s request when called on. Unprepared but unworried and knowing I was next, as everyone at the table turned their heads towards me like slow motion and I immediately burst into tears. Overwhelmed and unseasoned it was all I could do at the time to express the gratitude and emotion I felt for the people around the table, and the time that we had spent with them there.

I learned a lot during those three months. We met a lot of people, had a number of  formidable life experiences, and between all of the fun and funniness of forging through heat-shock and cross-cultural mishaps, our family had established ourselves and a way of life there. It was hard to leave.

I tell this story because it reminds me of Fletcher.  It reminds me of how I first became interested in  international affairs and the world beyond Falcon Heights, MN . It reminds me of the importance of experiential learning and teaching. It reminds me how quickly we bond with new communities and surroundings, and how many meaningful and memorable moments can take place in the blink of an eye, an era we will look back on and think of fondly, some of the times of our lives. And it reminds me how hard it can be to say goodbye to such experiences and accept the circles and transitions of life.

After a phenomenal first year at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, filled with an immeasurable number of fantastic moments, events, experiences, relationships, new knowledge and skills, even the lows stand out as highs in my 27 years of life. And the Fletcher community. It’s not hard to close the textbooks and shelve the note cards for a summer internship in Cambodia, but I find myself back to sitting at the banquet  table wishing I could find the words to express the magnitude of gratitude and emotion I feel towards my fellow Fletcherites and especially the graduating class of 2010 who ushered us into the magical mystery tour.

After spending eight month’s worth of beautiful days and long nights debating, challenging, laughing, learning and loving with a tight group of people in libraries and on dance floors at house parties in Medford, MA only to turn around and bid farewell to many whom you now consider really good friends for life, I find myself returning to one of my Dad’s “life-long learning” adages: life is like a convoy.

On the one hand it’s so obvious: people get on and off your convoy, some stay longer than others.  But the key is that your convoy keeps moving.  It  navigates the intricate seas of social relationships, chance, serendipity, and fate. And though I still find it difficult to leave and let such wonderful people, places and times go, I am reminded though your convoy docks at various ports along the way enabling people to get on and off along the way, it does not stop. We keep moving.

And so I remind myself that while I feel so much is forgotten when we forget to remember, as my convoys sails to Phnom Penh for the summer, it now carries the carvings of this past year’s people and passageways, as we leave pieces of us wherever we go.

Happy thanksgiving weekend everyone!

This year I am especially thankful for a spontaneous life, an amazing, fun, talented, and supportive family and community of friends, the privilege to join the vibrant Fletcher community and work towards a graduate degree in Law and Diplomacy, and last but not least, the most delicious, nutritious thanksgiving meal ever, falling just behind my mom’s annual spread.

Shout out to Baby Ace for partying like a rockstar on his first thanksgiving on earth with mom, dad, and the “R Street Hunnies Family Night Crew”!

Back in Boston the weather’s chilly and rainy, and starting to feel more like winter.  Thought I’d share some fall foliage and fun snapshots before the snow starts to stick.

The first few are from an annual fall festival called Honk!Fest – groups of “activist bands” – mostly horns, playing in the squares all weekend and marching from Davis Square through Somerville to Harvard Square in Cambridge on a gorgeous fall day in October.

Honkfest comes to Somerville

Honk!fest comes to Somerville!

Each year Honk!festers set the Davis neighborhood afire with their shiny, bold brass and the sounds of horns honking throughout the streets.  I spent one perfect fall day off the grad school grid to follow the Honk! festival, enjoying the May Day -esque celebration, watching parade of political puppetry and listening to the activist brass bands.

Stick it to me baby: Health Care!

Stick it to me baby: Health Care!

Carrying the dead

Funky Brass-town

Funky Brass-town

Get it girl!

Kanye West Makes Appearance at HonkFest

Kanye West Makes Appearance at Honk!Fest

Just what the doctor ordered!

Just what the doctor ordered!

Only in Boston

Brazilian Style Drum Jam

Davis Square
Davis Square

Fall bright

Fall Bright 2

One Example of Brilliance at Tufts

“If I hear one more person talking about the importance of maintaining a balanced life while in graduate school I’m going to…”

Steaks Burgers Stop Chicken Fish

Balance: We seek it. We work hard now to experience and enjoy it later. We want to live balanced lives. We are enamored with the concept.  So where does one find this thing we call “balance”? Does it really exist?

Lately, the whole “balance” thing has become just one more thing to add to my “To Do” list. And there aint no getting to the bottom of any graduate student’s “To Do” list, so how do we ever get to lead balanced lives while in school?  The answer, my friends, lies in the concept of the free market.

Question: If each of us were our own individual free market, would we self-regulate? Answer: Yes.

If you were looking for “the free market”, would you ever find it?  Isn’t it right there in front of you? Or all around, wherever you go?  This is how I’ve come to see the concept of balance. Would you know where to go or what you were looking for if you wanted to find it? Would you believe it if you saw it?

Maybe we can only see it when we don’t have it; when it isn’t there.

It’s easy to identify an unfree market: government regulations, income taxes, farm subsidies, tariffs on tires, just like we know an unbalanced life when we’re living it: oh the pain and anguish, the stressed, bloodshot eyes, the fast food and coffee consumption, the “just say no to invites” policy.

However, despite the prevalence of unhealthy, unsustainable practices in graduate school, I’ve come to believe that when left to our own (hypothetically) destructive devices, we end up functioning like individual miniature free markets. We may be volatile, spiking up and occasionally crashing down, we are often “all over the place”, but nevertheless self-regulating in the end.

Take last week. In the midst of  juggling a major term paper, three short assignments, four study groups, 27 bajillion pages of reading, 44 bajillion so-called “extra curricular” activities (meet the deputy prime minister of Israel! Business and GREEN club meetings, field trips, band practice, workouts), where might the invisible hand of self-regulation and life balance lead you?

Maybe it will take you to check your twitter, fb, gmail accounts. We all have our vices. Last week I downloaded an entire Stevie Wonder album and that oh-so-awesome and under- or, over-played Mario song feat. Gucci off of Itunes!  Who knows, it could even lead you to leave the whole “To Do” behind for a women’s wine and cheese night, a million mandate mixer in Harvard Square, and a post-party Ihop adventure sipping OJ and eating chocolate-chip pancakes.

You never know where the invisible hand will lead you, but trust that after a 12-hour marathon library stint, a combination of one’s physical demands and mental capacity, the limits of the market kick in and that ever-mysterious, ubiquitous and constantly moving hand will pull you to self-regulate towards some semblance of sanity – and – that thing we call balance.

Oh, how we shall savior those moments!  Because after that, it’ll pull you right back to the stacks!


Minong, WI
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m alive and well and back on the map after spending a week of moving – from Buenos Aires back to DC to  Somerville, Massachusetts – with the “fox force four” a best of friends moving crew
You Haul Team

You Haul Team

Juliana, Melanie, Moi, Zoe

Juliana, Melanie, Moi, Zoe

into a beautiful new apartment in a cute neighborhood just two blocks from the heart of Davis Square!



New Bedroom

View into my new bedroom

The great migration was followed by 10 glorious days of hometown Minnesota

Born in the land 'o lakes

Born in the land 'o lakes

mostly up in the north woods at our family’s cabin Wisconsin where I spent some of my time getting a good dose of “hard labor therapy camp” working with the family cabin crew to build a new path from the cabin to a new dock location.

The A-frame

The A-frame

Marshland with petrified wood behind the cabin

Marshland with petrified wood behind the cabin

"The year of the path"

"The year of the path"

View from the foot of the path

View from the foot of the path

The week was filled with great food, running in the woods, jumping in the lake, soaking up some summer sun, and having an awesome time hanging-out and catching-up with each of my parents, my sister, cousins Ryan and Mel, and of course Abby, the center of attention.

Letting it all hang out

Abby letting it all hang loose


Endless energy abounds

Tomorrow is a big day for me as I start the Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.  I have been eagerly anticipating the start of this wonderful and challenging new adventure in my life and am very excited to meet my fellow incoming class!

Stay tuned for some final thoughts on my summer in Buenos Aires including “Why Buenos Aires is a Livable City”, como es la vida and why I already love Somerville, MA, and more about what I hope to accomplish over the next two years!

With love while settling in, Althea

Back on the map!

Back on the map!