Take a look at this photo. What do you see?
Let me ask a better question. What DON'T you see?
The obvious answer here is that you don't see buildings, streets, cars, animals or people. You also don't see smiling volunteers with shovels who have just pretended to save the world through volunteering.
You are looking at a dry river bed in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, which covers 300km of land, making it the largest reserve in Jordan.
Hard to imagine, by looking at this lonely dry river bed, Dana Biosphere Reserve hosts a wide array of flora and fauna. Over 800 plant species thrive within the reserve, three of which are unique to Dana. 449 different animals have been recorded, including threatened species such as the sand cat, Syrian wolf and spiny-tailed lizard.
And because everyone likes to rely upon photos of happy volunteers doing great work, we don't want to be left out. So here you go. This is a photo of one of our happy volunteers doing great work in Feynan. No...really. It's one of our volunteers on the program caught doing his work. Welcome to the GeoVisions' Conversation Partner at an Eco-Lodge program in Jordan.
Before you read further, this is where we put in the fine print. You can't go as a group and maybe you can go as a couple. That depends on a lot of factors. You can take your laptop and your mobile phone. But it will be a rare occurance if they work.
We hope so. We need to keep a full rotation of GeoVisions' tutors at the Feynan Ecolodge. The hotel staff and local Bedouin community are relying upon GeoVisions to bring volunteers (and only 1 or 2 at a time) to the Ecolodge to tutor the hotel staff in English and to tutor the local Budouin youth in English as well.
Constructed in 2005, the Feynan Ecolodge lies at the western edge of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. The ecolodge is owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and is the first of its kind in Jordan.
On this GeoVisions program the volunteer you see above has an unparalleled opportunity to experience Jodan's wilderness, teach its native people English, which they have requested to learn, explore its ancient history side by side with the locals, with a minimal impact on the environment.
Fly to Jordan and get picked up by our staff. We will drive you to Amman where you will stay at a hotel. During your 2 or 3 days in Amman you will have a tour and receive a formal orientation about Jordan, the Middle East and your volunteer project at Feynan Ecolodge. Oh...more fine print. You won't fly to Feynan. You won't go by luxurious motor coach. This is your ride to the desert and Feynan Ecolodge--your GeoVisions volunteer project for 1, 2 or 3 months. And the photo below is the prize at the end of this road.
Do you see it? Right there on the far left side of this incredible photo. The Ecolodge. Your home and your volunteer project.
Hailed as one of the top fifty ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, the solar powered Feynan Ecolodge offers the most developed eco-experience in Jordan; an experience made possible by a unique partnership between EcoHotels and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, a Jordanian NGO devoted to the protection of the Kingdom’s finest natural landscapes.
What will you do at Feynan on GeoVisions' Conversation Partner program? Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to share your language with the staff of Feynan Ecolodge on a daily basis. Your primary reason for being there is to provide English conversation. The staff likes to have six, 2-hour sessions each week of English instruction.
GeoVisions’ Conversation Partners going out to Feynan go to a location without Internet or cell service. The primary reason for going is to teach English to the local artisans, the staff of the ecolodge and to volunteer in the local Bedouin school. If these people learn English, the drivers can earn more tips to take care of their families, the room cleaners can be promoted to other positions...even the front desk. Guides can have English conversations with guests and earn more tips. The artisan women can converse in English, explain their crafts, and earn a better living. The work these volunteer tutors do improves the lives of hundreds of people, forever.
Not only do these volunteers give their time and their money, they give up their iPhones and laptops for 1 to 3 months and volunteer to disconnect from the world for the privilege to connect to these local people for no other reason but to improve life and strengthen families in Feynan.
Enjoy this great 4 minute video shot by the staff at Feynan.
I'm not sure where I found the Blog, A Little Adrift by Shannon O'Donnell. I'm glad I did. I highly recommend her travel Blog. She started traveling in 2008 on an around the world trip. Now she travels at her own pace and documents everything that happens on the road.
Shannon wrote a post about Feynan Ecolodge located in Jordan's Dana Biosphere Reserve. I was thrilled to see the post because GeoVisions has an incredible Conversation Partner program at the Feynan Ecolodge. We supply them with English tutors for the staff. And by staff I mean front desk workers, maids, restaurant workers and even the guides.
As the post points out, we need English tutors to live at the Ecolodge to help staff with their conversational English. And if you're looking for a place to recharge the batteries, look no further than Feynan.
If you any interest in Jordan, conversational English, ecolodges or finding a place to just "be" and have time to disconnect from the Internet, Feynan is a great place. I hope you'll read Shannon's post about her experience at Feynan. She posted some great photos too!
This is a great time to revisit Pico Iyer's NY Times piece last December entitled "The Joy of Quiet." Iyer writes, "Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”
If you read Shannon's post about her experience at Feynan and then take a look at Iyer's article, and if you have any desire at all to travel to Jordan, contact us. We can put you up at Feynan Ecolodge and make sure your room and your meals are covered. We only as 20 hours a week of your time to help all of the staff there speak conversational English. And as you see in these articles, you'll gain much more than you give.
This Blog post is pulled with permission from Sherry Ott of Ottsworld and Meet Plan Go. Meet Plan Go is the leading career break movement in North America; encouraging and teaching others how to travel the world and have it be beneficial to your career. You can also "like" Meet Plan Go on Facebook. As of this post, they can smell that 3,000th fan.
Sherry participated on GeoVisions' Conversation Corps Jordan program in 2011. We can't begin to tell readers how moved we were when Sherry proclaimed in her Blog, "I don’t like to travel any more. This was the ultimate cultural exchange and in a weird way I have a hard time assigning it the term ‘travel’. I felt as if I lived there."
And so, of course, we were delighted to read Sherry's most recent Blog post, Top Career Break Destinations For 2012. Jordan was right up there at Number 1, and Sherry provided a link to the Conversation Corps Jordan page as a resource if you're planning on visiting Jordan in 2012. And, we're very pleased Jordan is the Number 1 destination of people considering a Career Break.
Here is the part of Sherry's "Top Destination" post about Jordan:
Don’t know where to go on your career break? We asked our event hosts for their top destination picks for 2012 and hopefully they will be added to your list.
From Sherry Ott of Ottsworld
Jordan should be on your career break travel itinerary not only because of the mind blowing ancient city of Petra, but more so because of the people. Jordan surprised me in many ways, but the most surprising thing was the generosity, kindness, and openness of the people. It was the first country in which I didn’t feel like a walking dollar bill, simply a tourist to sell to. Instead I felt like people really wanted to get to know ME, understand my culture, family, background, and thoughts on the world. It was an exchange in the true sense; normally all over a glass of tea.
The people are enough reason to go to Jordan, but if you need more, then consider the sites of Petra, the ancient ruins in the city of Amman, floating in the Dead Sea, and hiking in some of the most stunning landscape you’ll see in the world. The food is also a perk of travel in Jordan; falafel, hummus, flat bread, fresh vegetables, delicious coffee and tea cooked in ways you’ve never experienced will make your taste buds sore! Cost to travel there are relatively low and it’s simple to travel independently as the country is small, but has good infrastructure.
Put this gem of the Middle East on your career break list as it’s a chance to really see the Middle East that we hear so much about. It will provide you a chance to form your own opinions on the Middle East instead of the one we are fed on the news.
Resources to help you plan your travel to Jordan:
Conversation Corps Jordan
If you're interested in taking a Career Break, Meet Plan Go has a lot of resources, one called Basic Training. There is also a national event each year for people to gather to learn more about Career Breaks, and to start planning. There are also online classes you can take with them to learn how to make this happen for you, and how it can enhance your career.
If you're interested in the Conversation Corps, contact us and we will happily talk to you about the 19 different countries where you can be a member of the Corps.
If you have ever wanted to volunteer in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey, you can now apply for a scholarship to help out with your volunteer expenses.
America's Unofficial Ambassadors is offering scholarships to GeoVisions' volunteers in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey. Scholarships up to $5000 can be used to cover program fees and/or travel. Applications for the scholarship are being taken through August 31, 2011. The funds can be used for 2011 or 2012 program dates.
In Jordan, you can use this scholarship for:Conversation Corps-JordanConversation Partner-JordanMentoring in AqabaFeynan Ecolodge
In Lebanon, the scholarship can be used forConversation Corps-LebanonConversation Partner-Lebanon
In Turkey, the scholarship is available forConversation Corps-TurkeyConversation Partner-Turkey
You can read about the Mosaic Scholarship
and then there are links to the rules and regulations, and the application.
The underlying premise of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) is that private American citizens have to do more to improve America’s relationship with the Muslim World. Read more about AUA
By December of 2012, AUA plans to have 1000 Americans commit to at least 1 week of service in the Muslim World. We are very proud to be an approved organization of AUA, and our programs in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey rank high enough to qualify for the scholarship.
Contact us if you have questions. You should work your application
with GeoVisons along with the application for the scholarship.
We welcome any comments about the programs or the scholarship.
Filed under shameless self-promotion:
We need to staff 2 tutor positions at Feynan Eco Lodge in Jordan each month. Um, starting NOW.
Sign up for 4, 6 or 8 weeks. We don't even have the program page live on our website, but we will have soon. Until then, enjoy this 4 minute video in High Def and email us right away or apply now if you are interested anytime in 2011.
Set against the glorious desert landscape, Feynan is a 26-room Eco Lodge resting in the magnificent Wadi Feynan. Guests at this 26-room Eco Lodge can be found adventuring through the untouched outdoors, sipping mint tea with the native Bedouin, exploring local archaeological sites or simply unwinding in the serene courtyards and terraces of the candle-lit complex; safe in the knowledge that they are vacationing in a socially and environmentally-responsible way.
GeoVisions has been asked to supply 2 Conversation Partners at the lodge each month through 2011. There are only 2 spots per month, so you will want to contact us immediately if you have any interest in this highly unique project.
Hailed as one of the top fifty ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, the solar powered Feynan Eco Lodge offers the most developed eco-experience in Jordan. You can live there free and have all your meals free just for tutoring the lodge staff in English up to 20 hours each week. You will also tutor the Bedouin drivers and the guides, which means you will see sights and walk trails no one else has available to them.
Watch this high def, 4 minute video and apply now , or contact us right away. The complete program page will be available soon.