A Supportive Network: The I.E.P. Cohort

Of the many things that have been going on recently, there’s one from two weekends ago that I’m still happy about — our cohort retreat. Sometime toward the end of the fall semester, a couple of students came up with the idea that we should all try to get away before the spring semester began to take a step back, reflect on how we’d used our time in the first half of the year here, and develop a community even stronger than the one we already have. So we spent a weekend in Petersham, at the Harvard forest, split between three wonderfully quiet community living houses and peppered with a whole lot of laughter. As great as it was to be involved in planning the retreat and thinking about all the things we could do together to build a stronger cohort, it was also just really nice to be around everyone, staying up late and playing games and chatting, and particularly listening to personal reflections at the end of the retreat. Being away allowed us the time and space to speak with people we might otherwise rarely run into, to play games and talk about our lives with people we otherwise might only see in class, and to appreciate how blessed we are to have such an incredible cohort.

The summer before grad school began, I spent hours worrying about whether this was the right decision. I worried that I wouldn’t fit in — that there  would be too many crazy smart, hardworking, passionate people who I might not connect to. But those fears have long since disappeared, because there are so many things to love about our the people we surround ourselves with every day — the classmate who took this great picture, the phenomenal planning committee who thought of all the little details and then some more, friends who listen to worries about classes and the job hunt, others who help you dress up for the masquerade ball (another blog post about that coming soon!), thoughtful colleagues who always have snacks ready in three-hour classes, supremely talented and brilliant friends who surprise you with their insights. All of the above, and great conversations and laughter.


Kim Fernandes is a Master’s candidate in the International Education Policy program. Having taught previously in Mumbai, Kim hopes to return to India after graduation to support government and low-income private schools.