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Origins of the Odyssey (an inside view)

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

- Goethe

A letter from Jeff Golden, Odyssey Founder

The Odyssey was first conceived in the desert wilderness of southern Utah in the spring of 1995. A friend, Warren Cornwall, and I were reflecting on the incredible perspective and knowledge we had gained in our lives as a result of our travels. As teachers (though Warren has since turned reporter on me), we started to wonder how we could bring those kinds of experiences into the lives of our students. Following that trip, we pulled numerous colleagues from around the US into the discussion. The idea of using the Internet came up, and we began to think about ways to use it to break students free from the limitations of their own environments.

Three years later, those reflections have resulted in an extensive program designed to allow youth all over the world to connect with diverse people and communities, particularly those trying to affect change. Our team of volunteers has agreed to give two years of their lives to bring these people, their perspectives and lives into the classroom.

A core component of the program is service work: In the eleven principle destination sites of the World Trek, the trekkers are working with local groups to perform service work. The work not only affords the trekkers the opportunity to provide unique insights into local communities, but it also offers the Odyssey and the teachers using the World Trek invaluable opportunities to teach and implement service learning activities in the classroom.

The World Trek began in August with the first stage, the Mexico Trek. Four trekkers spent over a month in Mexico City, learning about the country, working with Casa Alianza — an organization that serves homeless youth — and exploring Mexican history, culture, and contemporary issues through the people and places they visited. (To see what the Mexico segment looked like online, go to the Mexico Trek, now in the Odyssey archives).

We operate thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, foundation supporters, individual donors, and MANY volunteers. Thanks to all of them, and to you for your interest. The Odyssey World Trek will continue through the end of the year 2000. We invite you to join us and youth around the world as we travel the globe, learn about different communities and make many friends — and do what we can to make a difference in the world.

Jeff Golden
Odyssey Founder and President
10/98


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