Georgetown Influences: Marianne Perez de Fransius (F’02)


From Conflict Avoider to Conflict Expert

Thinking about how I ended up as an expert in peace and conflict transformation, I realized that my time at Georgetown was pivotal. In the spring of my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Jerusalem and then worked at the Jerusalem Post over the summer. There was hope about the seemingly impending peace between Israelis and Palestinians. By the time I got back to campus in September 2000, the second intifada had started, and the news was flooded with images of bloodshed and destruction in places I’d been only a few weeks earlier. I was so overwhelmed that I literally had to stop watching or reading the news.

The following spring, I went abroad to Turkey and stayed there over the summer. We had a spring break trip to Syria and a lot of coursework on Islam and the Middle East. I was back on the Hilltop for just 2 weeks when September 11 happened. I remember the campus being eerily quiet as I walked down to Village A and seeing the smoke plumes coming off the Pentagon. The air traffic that all new arrivals notice ceased for several months. And when National Airport opened again, some of my fellow students panicked, fearing a plane was going to crash into Healey. The media was filled with a lot of Muslim bashing which directly contradicted my experience in the Middle East.

Hearing Georgetown’s twin mantras of “You are the leaders of tomorrow” and “Men and women of service to others,” yet seeing the deep crisis that not only the Georgetown community was going through, but the whole nation, pointed to a deep conflict for me. At the time, I didn’t know how to resolve it, so I decided to flee it. The climate of fear in DC and in New York (where I grew up) was palpable and I couldn’t escape it by turning off the news. To get away from it, I moved to Paris. After a couple years, I decided to get a masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, thinking that it could be something relevant to study.

I went into the masters program focusing on the role of the media in portraying peace and conflict and looking at big international conflicts. As a result of my work there, I was invited into the TRANSCEND network, a community of peace workers and researchers, and got the first article about Peace Journalism published in the elite journal called Journalism. This opened doors to offering trainings at the UN, to national lobbying organizations and to groups focused on the Middle East.

Fortunately I picked a program that taught a model for creating peace that is applicable at the meta, international level all the way down to the micro, intrapersonal level. Using this model, I’ve learned that instead of avoiding (or fleeing) conflicts, I can engage with them and even gain something fruitful from them. I’ve learned how to navigate dreaded conversations with ease, how to create win-win opportunities, how to monitor my media intake to stay informed without getting depressed, and so many other skills that are vital to living a balanced and meaningful life, both personally and as a world citizen of service to others. I hope you’ll join me for my upcoming webinar in which I’ll introduce you to this model.

Marianne founded Peace Is Sexy ( with a mission to redefine peace as sexy, possible, profitable and fun. Marianne has offered trainings at the UN, to national lobbying organizations and to ones that work on the conflict in the Middle East. Currently, she’s training Mozambican journalists in conflict analysis and peace journalism.


Notes on Evernote


I’m testing out a new method to organize the chaos that is my desk.  As you saw in a recent post, the ACS team is using Wunderlist to keep track of both our work and personal to-do’s via individual and shared lists.  The ease and simplicity of that platform is perfect for tracking tasks and even sub-tasks but doesn’t really help me with the million and one notepads, notebooks, and papers strewn across my desk.

Enter Evernote.  

What is Evernote? Evernote apps and web-based products allow you to easily collect and find everything that matters – notes, business cards, etc, are all accessible across all of your devices – phone, tablet, computer. There are free, premium, and business versions and multiple apps that make up the the Evernote family that we will discuss in this ongoing blog series.

Disclaimer: I’ve only been really using it for a week or two and I’m just starting to uncover all it has to offer, which, to be honest, can be kind of confusing and enlightening at the same time. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

evernote pen

1.  The Jot Script Evernote edition stylus.  I’m still getting used to it. At $  74.99 it’s pretty pricey but after some basic research it seemed to offer a smaller tip for writing that I thought would be useful.  My intention is to transition to taking notes in meetings using the stylus on my ipad. It takes a bit of getting used to though – I find that you have to write larger than you may normally and notes look a bit messier. NOTE:  And here is where I got confused.  You need to use a separate app for writing called Penultimate.  Once you take your notes you sync it to Evernote.  Still figuring that part out.

evernote moleskin

2.The Evernote notebooks by Moleskin. They enable you to easily take photos of your notes and upload them into your digital Evernote notebooks.  They come with stickers that enable you to tag your notes as well as 3 months worth of premium Evernote.  I’m still understanding whether the Evernote version is REALLY necessary/easier to photograph as opposed to other/regular notebooks.

3.  You can photograph business cards to keep track of your network.  Instead of having a million business cards sitting on your desk, photograph and file them in your Evernote account.  Seems like a great way to make business cards more actionable!  Bonus tip:  jot a few notes before you take a photo of it to remind yourself about your connection with that person.

4.  You can use Evernote to go paperless.  I’ve been taking notes either in my Evernote moleskin notebook or on a meeting’s particular agenda, photographing it and uploading into my Evernote digital notebook. So far so good.  Apparently your notebooks (even handwritten notes) are supposed to be searchable by keyword but I haven’t gotten quite that far yet.  I organize my digital notebooks by particular project areas to keep track of historic documents and notes meeting to meeting.

So far I’m probably just scratching the surface of what Evernote has to offer and I’ll keep you posted as I learn more. Have any Evernote tips?  We want to know!


Back to the Grind: Making Your Post-Vacation Transition Easier

It’s summer. And hopefully all of you will be able to get away for a bit to relax and rejuvenate. Bonus points if you’re able to REALLY check out and not be on email the entire time!  While you may be relaxed and rested, all good things must come to an end and the return to the office is inevitable.  Here are a few tips to help make the transition back to work at least a bit less painful!

1. Create a to-do list and leave it on your desk before you head out.
There’s nothing worse than forgetting what you were even working on before you left the office.  Make yourself some notes right before you head out the door so you can at least reorient yourself when you get back in to the office.

2.  To check email or not check email: That is the question.
Some people argue that just checking out of work totally is the only way to really get a break and rejuvenate. Others say that in today’s tech savvy world that’s not an option.  I go for the hybrid approach where I check email twice a day, delete anything that is irrelevant or junk and respond to any fires. Other than that I’ll get back to you when I return to the office.  If I go through things throughout my vacation I find I’m less overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox when I get back.

3. Don’t schedule meetings the morning you get back!
I’ve done it and it’s the worst. Who wants a 9 am meeting on a Monday much less a Monday after vacation? It may sound like a great idea when you’re heading out of the office on a Friday looking forward to 7 days and 2 tickets to paradise but, trust me, you’re not going to feel as motivated when you are sporting your tan at the water cooler instead of beach side.

4.  Have a day at home before you head back into the office.
A day to catch up on laundry, unpack, and get situated can help make the first day at work a bit less painful.

5. Schedule lunch.
Ease into your first day back by scheduling lunch with a colleague that you need to catch up with.  Combination of work + fun is ideal. Plus, you probably won’t have too much food in your fridge.

6. Work on your favorite projects first.
Which parts of your job do you love the most? What are your pet projects? Work on those to help get your head back in the game.

How do you manage your vacations and transition back into the office?  Any tips to share?  We want to hear! In the meantime, happy summer Hoyas!


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