First-year alumni: François juggles research and academia

First-year alumni: François juggles research and academia

An update today from 2021 MALD graduate François, who has had a busy first post-Fletcher year in various locations in the Northeastern US:

Francois VenneUpon graduating the Fletcher School in 2021, I felt a great deal of gratitude and confidence. Not only had Fletcher gifted me two delightful, formative years as a part of a dynamic international community, but it had set the stage for my work and accomplishments in the months that followed.

Transatlantic Leadership Fellow. Having taken a variety of courses on the transatlantic relationship and conflict resolution in Europe, such as with former U.S. Ambassador John Shattuck and the Karamanlis Chair of Hellenic and European Studies, Constantine Arvanitopoulos, my interest in the region was piqued. Thanks to the Fletcher Registrar’s office which advertised the opportunity, I applied – and was accepted – to a fellowship program with the D.C.-based think-tank Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). As a transatlantic fellow, I had the opportunity to work with leading experts and current and former public servants to perform in-depth research on a topic of my choice. I also published shorter articles for CEPA’s flagship publication Europe’s Edge on topics ranging from the French presidential elections ( to leveraging U.S. financial power to counter China in Europe ( Ultimately, I published a detailed report in January 2022 entitled “China in Hungary: Real Threat or False Alarm?” investigating the impact and implications of China’s presence in Eastern Europe. Topping it all off, I was granted the opportunity to present my findings to the U.S. State Department.

Teacher. As my fellowship came to a close, my internationally-oriented work was just beginning. Taking a brief pause from research and written analysis, in 2022, I began teaching French at a private high school in Western New York. I am a dual French-U.S. citizen and fluent French language speaker, and Fletcher helped me to recognize the importance of learning other languages in order to better dialogue with others, understand different cultures, and resolve conflict. Teaching 70+ students the French language at all levels and sharing with them my passion for the francophone world reminded me just how urgent, valuable, and needed language skills are in a world that increasingly revolves around English alone. The multilingual environment offered at Fletcher was a blessing and rekindled my drive to develop and teach language skills. Knowing a second language cannot be taken for granted and teaching it to others – not just learning it myself – was a gift.

Published Author. During my time teaching, I continued to write and, following much editing and expert feedback, published my first academic article (“Return of the Amateurs? Comparing Grassroots and Professional Approaches to International Relief (