Some Cheering News

Fellow Friends of the Foundation,

In the wake of so much bloodshed and cultural turmoil here and abroad in recent weeks, I wanted to share with you some cheering news for a change. I just this morning received an email from Farhan Javed ’18 (’of Currier House and Tulsa, Oklahoma) who is studying at the Central Bank of Armenia this summer thanks to the FDR Global Fellowship based at Adams House. The spirit Farhan evinces — a desire to both learn and teach, both to accept and be accepted, and most of all, to explore unexpected intellectual paths and ligatures — is EXACTLY what we have been trying to do with this program. We are so proud to have him as Adams’ (and Harvard’s) face to the world. Please read his email. I think you’ll find it a refreshing tonic to your day.

All best, Michael

Hi Michael,

These past two months working at the Central Bank here in Armenia have really opened me up to a new world. I’ve had the opportunity to travel up and down the country, from the industrial cities to the forested mountain towns and rural villages. I can sincerely attest to the hospitality of the people here.  Wherever I’ve gone, strangers have invited me into their homes, insisted on feeding me, and have constantly pried and questioned if I am ever in need of anything. Armenia is, by global standards, a poor country with institutions and systems that don’t always function as they’re supposed to. But the people honestly have very rich hearts and that has made all the excursions rewarding.

One of the big challenges I thought I would face was observing Ramadan during the summer in this rather homogeneous conservative Christian nation. Most people here had never met a Muslim before, and despite strained relations with their Muslim majority neighbors like Azerbaijan and Turkey, I never once felt threatened or discriminated against. People were full of curiosity and I loved answering their questions. During my free time, I visited a lot (emphasis on “a lot”) of churches and monasteries. The sheer quantity of churches would put the Bible Belt to shame. It was an amazing feeling to be a fasting Muslim sitting in a church, listening to choir music, and realizing that we all have a mutual desire for some sort of transcendence. These instances changed the way I internally approached the labels of Christian and Muslim. It didn’t make me want to blur the lines, but rather increased my respect for the fact that we could choose to have those lines and that those labels gave us all meaning. It was also a great plus to find restaurants run by Arab-Armenian (members of the diaspora that had returned after living for a few generations in places like Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria) because they served halal food with the familiar zesty spiciness that I was familiar with from my own background.

Another cool realization I had was all the linguistic connections I began to make. The vast majority of Armenians only speak Armenian and Russian (a vestige of their Soviet legacy). I had the fortunate opportunity to be able to take Armenian classes at the bank and as I progressed I noticed some very definitive cognates and similarities between Armenian and my own native Urdu (the national language of Pakistan), which I realized was due to both regions having been under heavy Persian influence for significant periods of history. Discoveries liked that increased my sense of the interconnected-ness of our world.

The work at the bank itself has been fantastic. It’s been an amazing learning process working with the most brilliant economists and econometricians that Armenia has to offer. I have had the chance to go to several conferences where we had finance chairs and economists from the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, and various universities across the world deliver presentations on the most cutting edge developments on economic policy and econometric modeling. My work over the summer has led to the development of a working paper where I analyze how indirect effects of oil price shocks outweigh the direct farhaneffects for Armenia. This actually has far reaching implications because it means that central banks ought to view a good chunk of oil-importing small open economies (which the majority of developing nations are) as oil-exporters when it comes to combating fluctuations if they have strong trade linkages to oil-exporters. This sort of insight can change the way governments from these countries pursue trade policies and respond to adverse shocks around the world to better safeguard against global crises, benefiting the lives of their citizens.

All in all, if I could go back, I wouldn’t do it any other way. My final presentation is on the 25th, after which I’ll be mostly concluded with my work here. Currently doing my best to relish these last few days!

I’ve attached a picture of me on horseback riding outside the town of Ijevan

I look forward to catching up in the Fall!

Sincerely,
Farhan Javed

(And of course, if this spurs you to want to create other experiences like this for future students, please email me at michael.weishan@fdrfoundation.org as we TRULY need your financial support to continue this program. M)

 




2016 FDR Global Fellows Announced

We are absolutely delighted to name this year’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Global Fellows:

jessJessica Min ’18 of Quincy House and Melbourne, Australia will be traveling to Paris to undertake an internship with the United Nations Environment Program, examining sustainable consumption and production patterns in China and India. Drawing upon her interest in politics in the Asia-Pacific, she will be working on developing regional EU-Asia policy to promote international trade. She will also help set up a conference for trade negotiations between EU countries and China in August, in which she will assist in welcoming a Chinese delegation in Europe.

A sophomore concentrating in economics, Jessica is a news writer for the Harvard Crimson on gender and sexuality issues on campus, the food/in-kind director of the largest undergraduate-run shelter, Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, and a unit test grader for Professor Greg Mankiw’s “Ec 10: Introduction to Economics” course. She also serves on the student advisory board of Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, providing advice on increasing student interest in China. As someone who hopes to pursue a career in international development, Jess is passionate about examining the nexus of poverty, climate change and migration to develop practical solutions to improve living standards in the Asia-Pacific. Given the historical agreement between US and China to jointly reduce carbon emissions, Jess is both inspired and interested in finding collaborative approaches to minimize global warming’s impact on livelihoods.

In addition to being an FDR Global Fellow, Jess has been named the 2016 Lillian Goldman Scholar.

 

headshot2Farhan Javed ’18 of Currier House and Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be traveling to Dilijan, Armenia this summer to intern at the Central Bank of Armenia to investigate methods of accelerating economic privatization as Armenia moves away from its Soviet centralized-planning past to a free market. During his 9-week program, Farhan will utilize statistical methods to research and propose methods of liberalization that will be aimed at reforming the nation’s current economic system to create an environment conducive to prosperity for the masses that continue to live in stagnation.

A sophomore concentrating in Economics, Farhan is passionate about macroeconomics, specifically its application to foster growth in developing countries. Immigrating to the United States at a young age and growing up as a Pakistani-American, Farhan has felt that he has feet planted in different parts of the world. This background has spurred his curiosity of understanding why there is such global disparity in wealth. Furthermore, Farhan is fascinated by history and culture. He believes that working in an environment such as Armenia, a place that may seem obscure to many, will deepen his understanding of pluralism. Farhan is currently active in the Harvard Pakistan Student Association, writes global affair analysis pieces for the Harvard International Review, works as a Business Associate in the Harvard Crimson, and serves on the board of the Veritas Financial Group. He plans to work in either consulting or finance after graduation and later transition to policy and international affairs.

ID_Photo__1Juliet Kim ’18 of Quincy House and the Bronx, New York, will be traveling to Trento, Italy this summer to participate in the Harvard Summer School program in Mind, Brain, and Behavior. During this eight-week program, she will take two courses on different methods used to study the minds and brains of humans and of other animals, and how the discovery of common structures, mechanisms, and/or behavior between the two can provide a window into the evolutionary pathway that has made us who we are today.

A sophomore concentrating in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, with a potential secondary in Mind, Brain, and Behavior, Juliet is very much interested in learning about the development of human consciousness, and in learning about how this is similar to/ differs from the consciousness of other species. Outside of classes, Juliet is a co-director of the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies, a co-Vice President of Harvard Team HBV (Hepatitis B Virus), a Peer Advising Fellow, and a tutor with the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment after school program. As a pre-medical student from a city with one of the nation’s highest rates of income inequality, she is passionate about supporting the underprivileged, and hopes to work in public health in addition to becoming a doctor.

The Foundation in particular wishes to thank the three anonymous donors who made this year’s award possible. Without them, we would not have been able to send any of these wonderful candidates, as our scholarship fund is empty.  If you, or someone you know, wishes to to aid this laudable program, please contact michael.weishan@fdrfoundation.org  For general information about the Global Fellowships click HERE. Award Criteria are to be found HERE.

Don’t Let the Music Stop

 

Many of you know that I spent 6 years with PBS, and there December was one constant wail: “This programming is made possible by viewers like you! Please support us!” (Which isn’t actually true, and they shouldn’t really be saying that anymore, as the programming is paid entirely by corporations these days, but that’s a whole other story.)  Ironically, all these years later, I find myself saying the same thing, except this time for the Foundation, where conversely it is entirely true: You my dear friends make everything happen, from providing scholarships, to paying the insurance, to creating educational programming, to building the website. Why, you even keep the music playing and the piano tuned!

So, won’t you perhaps think about helping us before the end of the year? We really need your support, as our coffers are at historically low levels.  Just click the donate button below, or send a check to:

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation
Adams House, Box 471
26 Plympton Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Thank you friends, and our best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!




Fall Fundraising Campaign

beyond tomorrow panel

The Beyond Tomorrow Saturday Conference Panel, with ethnobotanist Mark Ploitkin, opera singer Carla Dirlikov, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Ambassador Bruce Oreck

I must admit I am still a bit tired!

After a five months of preparation, and a three-day organizing marathon for the Beyond Tomorrow Conference this past weekend, we are now set to gear up for our next event on the 14th of November: Telling Our Story: The Power of Positive Narrative in US Politics and International Relations, which is poised to be just as important and informative.

This is all pretty amazing when you think that when we started 7 years ago we had nothing more than an empty room and a dream. Now today we’ve restored one of the most remarkable historical spaces at Harvard, we continue to expand our efforts to preserve and protect our historical collections, we maintain an active and effective scholarship program inspired by FDR, and we’re energetically working to create programming for students and alums that has real potential for making positive societal change.

But to continue all these great efforts, we REALLY need your help. Despite this amazing expansion of our mission, our circumstances remain the same. We’re still a tiny 501(c)3 charity that receives no funding from Harvard. And while it’s true we benefit mightily from our association with the University, sometimes that hurts us too, as people simply presume that because we’re located at Harvard, we’re somehow beneficiaries of Harvard largess and that we’re rolling in cash.

As the old country song goes: “That just ain’t so.” Everything we do, comes from people like you.

Maintaining all these activities is incredibly expensive, and once again our coffers are low.

So: would you consider helping us? One new method we’d like to encourage is a sustaining membership via credit card. Simply pick an amount, 20, 50 100 dollars and after you click the donation button, you’ll see an option to “make this recurring.” This type of sustaining support helps us manage our cash flow, allowing us to know what funds we can expend for our numerous programs. It’s really simple to do, and takes exactly one minute. Just click the button below and you’re off!




 

Of course, if you prefer to send a check, our mailing address is

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation
Adams House, Harvard College
26 Plympton Street, Box 471
Cambridge, MA 02138

I’ll be in touch soon with more details about our upcoming programming, as well as some wonderful historical tales I’ve been waiting to share. Thanks as always!