#10 Josie Olsvig (WGH 84-85)

It has been an eventful life, but the highlight of it will always be my year as a Willy G girl.

It has been thirty-five years since I first arrived at William Goodenough House. It was a magical place situated in the heart of London; full of students from all over the globe, all interesting, well-schooled and hard-working with their own stories. It was enriching to learn about each person’s journey and what brought them to London. Some were interested in working in government or international relations, but others had different passions such as opera, music, military studies, economics or international law. Every day I looked forward to conversing with fellow members in the dining hall, the pub or at events organised by the College such as talks, special dinners or dances. Through all this interaction I forged close lifelong friendships.

We enjoyed a variety of memorable events during our year in London. I had come to Goodenough College skilled in organizing activities, and enjoyed planning events for everyone. I think one of the most memorable affairs we held was a Christmas dinner in the Great Hall. The hall became a festive setting decorated with Yuletide embellishments. Every seat was filled and spirits ran high. Wine helped lubricate the crowd as warmth and camaraderie was openly shared among the attendees. Even members of the staff joined in, and I have a comical picture of a member of the staff howling with laughter, with a Christmas wreath on his head and a glass of spirits in his hand.

One memorable outing was held in the winter season when a group of forty people visited a West End theatre to see Cats. It was a wonderful production with captivating costumes and music.

However, my fondest memories are of simple interactions over the supper table in the dining hall or enjoying a glass of wine in Freddie’s. People shared stories of their home towns, undergraduate experiences, travel adventures, sporting activities, hobbies, political views and global concerns. It gave me an expansive view of life and how our respective nations interacted, as well as the concerns of other countries.

After leaving London, I moved to the New York City area and completed a law degree. I went on to work as an assistant prosecuting attorney handling child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault cases. After a period of years, I became director of Lawyers for Children America in Washington, D.C. a non-profit organization that worked to address child abuse and neglect, and other child welfare issues perpetuated by poverty. Soon after the turn of the millennium, I returned to my home state of Ohio and became an administrator of a large urban child welfare organization.

Eventually, I retired and moved to Charleston, South Carolina where I have taken up the writing life. My first work, a children’s history book about Charleston, was released at the end of 2019. This will be followed by my debut historical fiction novel anticipated for September 2020.

Growing up Gullah in the Lowcountry is published by Palmetto Publishing Group