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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Story Telling Part Four: Reflection on Impact of Experience

Anthony Bloome, Peace Corps Information Communications and Technology Specialist, interviews Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen about the essential components of story telling, speaking in classrooms, using different medias in story telling, and reflection on the impact of the volunteer experience.

Anthony Bloome
Jody, that's terrific. So we started off with the importance of storytelling and some of the aspects that you suggested in terms of effective storytelling, and then broadened it in terms of across the three goals, and then the use of traditional and new media the volunteers are using, but then it ended up back at the storyteller him-or herself, the importance of encapsulating that experience, and it sounds like at whatever point in that service, it sounds like it's something that storytelling and thinking about storytelling is something that volunteers probably do all the time in the field. But, being able to share that with their families or communities back home, but it coming back to being a resource they can draw upon after their experience for years to come. So…
Jody Olsen
And let me pick up on that 'years to come' for a moment. I've been back forty years, and I must confess that for probably the first ten of those years back, I did not focus very much on my Peace Corps experience. I was raising a family, going to school, having jobs, all those things that take our time. And it was only about ten years later, for me. I'm slow. I began to think about and understand better what that Peace Corps experience, what that was happening to me, and, you know, in part because I was changing careers at that point, and my kids were to a certain point that, you know, I could start talking about what all that, what that Tunisian stuff was hanging all over the wall. And with that, I began to feel the stories, and it was telling those stories to my kids that began that process for me of discovering what happened to me as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Not what happened to me in terms of activities that went on, but how did I change? And why did I come back so differently than when I went in? But in finding an answer to that question, and how that had impacted me for the then ten-year sense, I did go back to individual stories. How did I handle the difficulty of learning the names of the students? Because I couldn't pronounce them very well; I was never good with other languages. Right, how did I manage that? How did I manage a certain failure of really working with those names? How did I manage certain successes that I had? But I had to deal with circumstances that I had never thought about in the U.S. I mean, one particular example was talking to a woman who had just given birth to twins in a very rough-looking maternity hospital. And one twin was at the bottom of the bed, and she was nursing the other twin, and I said, "Why is the twin at the bottom of the bed?" And she said, "We only have resources and energy for one." And I looked at her, and trying to understand what was all of the language behind the language; what was all of the culture; what was all of the history; what was all of the poverty that was behind that sentence that she said to me at that moment. Well, it was ten years before I could work with that, go back and really work with that and understand what that particular impact, the impact of that moment, was on my life at a level that I had not really, sort of, brought forth and worked with. So, we have stories about the experience and, Tony, as you say, 'throughout our lives,' it is throughout our lives. And, I think for each of us to be respectful of that opportunity whenever those stories come and wherever that opportunity might be. And it might be grandchildren when the stories start being expressed. That's okay because we change over time; how we see our experience changes over time, and how others then understand our experience changes over time.
Anthony Bloome
Well, Jody, I want to thank you for joining us today for our Tech podcast series. We've certainly been able to use this new media to capture your story about effective storytelling and look forward to any comments or suggestions from many of our listeners out there, and please share your stories with us. So, thank you, Jody.
Jody Olsen
Well, thank you very much. I enjoyed it.