2010.02.20: Jody Olsen speaks on "Respect for Others as One Path Toward Peace," at the Friends of First Church of Christ, Scientist

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Special Report: Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen: 2010.02.20: Jody Olsen speaks on "Respect for Others as One Path Toward Peace," at the Friends of First Church of Christ, Scientist

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Jody Olsen speaks on "Respect for Others as One Path Toward Peace," at the Friends of First Church of Christ, Scientist

Jody Olsen speaks on  Respect for Others as One Path Toward Peace, at the Friends of First Church of Christ, Scientist

Olsen said Pew Foundation research shows that from Mali to Armenia, from the Dominican Republic to Bulgaria, foreign attitudes toward the United States significantly improve in cites and towns where Peace Corps volunteers have worked. "We as one person can make a difference," Olsen said. "And that difference might just affect one or two or three people, but that's OK. Over time that will multiply by continuing to work together, collectively. And those people we help may develop into community leaders that very profoundly change the lives of others." Olsen said Peace Corps volunteers often remain unaware, years later, of the long-term, positive repercussions of their work. However, Peace Corps volunteers themselves remain aware of the changes their experience has made in their own lives. "It changed my view of life on a major scale," Hoffman said. "I never looked at anything quite as I did before I went into the Peace Corps, and I think that's true for most people who've went into the Peace Corp. Their motto is, 'It's the toughest job you'll ever love,' and I think that's true, too." Jody Olsen, Deputy Director of the Peace Corps appointed by President George W. Bush, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia.

Jody Olsen speaks on "Respect for Others as One Path Toward Peace," at the Friends of First Church of Christ, Scientist

Former Peace Corps director speaking at Unity Church

Originally published February 20, 2010


By Ron Cassie
News-Post Staff

Forty-four years ago, Jody Olsen and her husband met Joey Hoffman and her husband, Teke Hoffman, at a Peace Corps training center in Providence, R.I. Both young couples were sent to Tunisia, and Jody and Joey have remained friends ever since.

Olsen, who has since traveled to 80-plus countries, recently stepped down as acting director of the Peace Corps after serving as deputy director for the past seven years. Hoffman, who lives in Middletown , taught in Washington and in Frederick County Public Schools for 22 years. This Sunday, she's invited her Peace Corps friend to speak at Frederick Unity Church as part of the 2010 Season for Nonviolence.

"Jody has had an incredible Peace Corps experience in various positions," Hoffman said. "She is a very humble and beautiful person, and I'm delighted she's willing to come and share her perspective on how to achieve peace and nonviolence through her work with the Peace Corps."

Olsen's topic, "Respect for Others as One Path Toward Peace," is sponsored by the Friends of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Frederick . A question-and-answer session will follow Olsen's 75-minute presentation.

Currently, Olsen is a visiting professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Appointed deputy director of the Peace Corps in 2001 by then-President George W. Bush, Olsen said she'll discuss how one person can help others in the face of overwhelming need.

"Research indicates that we can focus on one person's tragedy, easier than a mass tragedy," Olsen said. "A tragedy like Haiti overwhelms our ability to connect emotionally and commit ourselves, and actually reduces our individual ability to respond. I want to talk about how we find our way -- as one person -- find peace, and through that, relate to people and effect change."

Discerning the way one person can effect change in the face of overwhelming need, of course, is exactly the kind of work Olsen's done with the Peace Corps.

Learning how to respect, listen, watch and observe without judgment, Olsen said, is the key to finding a way to make a difference within a given country's cultural framework.

Hoffman said she thinks the mission of the Peace Corps, as a peace-building tool of the United States, is as relevant as ever, a belief backed-up by Pew Foundation studies.

Olsen said Pew Foundation research shows that from Mali to Armenia, from the Dominican Republic to Bulgaria, foreign attitudes toward the United States significantly improve in cites and towns where Peace Corps volunteers have worked.

"We as one person can make a difference," Olsen said. "And that difference might just affect one or two or three people, but that's OK. Over time that will multiply by continuing to work together, collectively. And those people we help may develop into community leaders that very profoundly change the lives of others."

Olsen said Peace Corps volunteers often remain unaware, years later, of the long-term, positive repercussions of their work.

However, Peace Corps volunteers themselves remain aware of the changes their experience has made in their own lives.

"It changed my view of life on a major scale," Hoffman said. "I never looked at anything quite as I did before I went into the Peace Corps, and I think that's true for most people who've went into the Peace Corp. Their motto is, 'It's the toughest job you'll ever love,' and I think that's true, too."

For information on Frederick 's Season for Peace and Nonviolence events, go to www.unityfrederick.org




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: February, 2010; RPCV Jody Olsen (Tunisia); Figures; Peace Corps Tunisia; Directory of Tunisia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Tunisia RPCVs; Staff; Maryland





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Story Source: Frederick News Post

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