My last semester at Fletcher

All things must end, and ending my time at Fletcher is something I am looking forward to, yet I know I will miss my time here (but not the week before midterms or finals- that I am glad to leave behind). My mind is divided between thinking about my last semester classes, activities and thesis and the all important job search and career that is coming next. It will be a very busy time- I am still a senior editor at the Fletcher Security Review and Professor Sung-yoon Lee has asked me to be his Research Assistant for the semester.

Here is my class schedule:

1: Korean 120b- Finally I am taking a Korean language class. It is at Harvard college, so it is mostly undergraduates. The atmosphere is great, casual but worthwhile. The only downside is that it is everyday at 9am.

2: The Political Economy of China with Professor Tony Saich (Harvard Kennedy School)- Good class so far, but it has only met twice. It will be a good complement to other classes that have looked at China’s external actions. It is all about China’s domestic development. Interesting thing, the professor is British and he went to university in China during the Cultural Revolution. This means that he had to (along with the other foreign students) go work in the field and in Chinese factories and do manual labor once a week to make sure that he had correct ideological development.

3: The Classics of International Relations with Professor Daniel Drezner- Prof. Drezner is entertaining, to say the least, if you doubt me then follow his twitter feed. He is also demanding. This class is going to take a lot of my time. Each week we read a classic, or in Thucydides case over two weeks (which I am trying to finish now) and then we talk about it. If you don’t read the whole thing and the Prof. can tell, you fail. It is basically a book club, very good so far- it has taught me a lot about theory and the intricacies of Thucydides. Also, I learned why it has endured- as Prof. Drezner notes. “because it is Awesome.”

4: The Strategic Dimensions of the Rise of China with Prof. Toshi Yoshihara- My HKS class is all about China domestically, but this one is all about Chinese and American security policy. The beginning of the class has been about setting up a foundation in IR theory to use as a framework to think about the questions related to China’s rise. The prof. is even-handed and a great lecturer.

5: North Korea State and Society with Prof. Sung-yoon Lee- I am just auditing this class, so it means I can come and learn without worrying about assignments or a grade. Because of the schedule and last weeks snowstorm, I have only had one class. Prof. Lee is my advisor and has just hired me as a Research Assistant, so I wanted to have one more chance to learn from him- it promises to be interesting.

Other than classes, there are two upcoming events in February to look forward to. First is the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) that will be examining  Asia’s Blueprint for Growth: Building an Inclusive Future over four days with students from all over the world. During the last week of February I will be heading down to D.C. with Fletcher for a career trip- trying to find a job or at least get a better idea of what is available.

About Leon Whyte

I'm a recent graduate of the Fletcher school of Law and Diplomacy. My interests include Pacific Asia and Security. I am looking for related opportunities.
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