Middle East

Imagine Volunteering at Feynan EcoLodge
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

landscape jordan

A massive landscape awaits you

Calling all stressed out, blackburied, overdigitized, social network-a-holics…I’ve found the perfect career break for you!

Imagine a place you can go to simply have silence; perfect, peaceful silence. Imagine if there was absolutely no way for you to plug in…literally – there are no outlets. Imagine being surrounded by the soft glow of candlelight every night. Imagine seeing the milky way before you go to bed each night. Imagine interacting with some of the most generous and hospitable people the world has to offer. Imagine if you could help them; teach them; provide them a more secure future. Imagine hiking, mountain biking, and seeing remnants of ancient civilizations in your free time. Imagine eating scrumptious vegetarian meals prepared by a cooking staff. Imagine reading books by the fireside every night and interacting with travelers from around the world. Imagine how great this would look as part of your career break or sabbatical. But most importantly, imagine how good you’d feel if this was your life for a month.

It’s a Fenyan cleanse for your over-worked and stressed mind, body, and soul.


Lighting the candles for the evening...a nightly event

Feynan Ecolodge lies in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the largest reserve in Jordan covering over 300km of land. Dana is an area of tremendous variety in terms of wildlife, geology and landscape. It is the only reserve in Jordan that encompasses the four different bio-geographical zones of the country: Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian and Sudanian. The lodge itself is tucked away in a valley surrounded by brown and orange mountains on all sides. You can’t simply drive there, you can get as far as the reception center at a very small village in the desert and then a local Bedouin guide will bring you the rest of the way on a rough dirt road to the remote location.

You will immediately notice all of the Bedouin tents on your drive to the to the lodge. You’ll also drive by camels, goats, children waving frantically, a small mosque, and a large white school. This is a functioning Bedouin community you are entering and they were here long before the Ecolodge showed up. By volunteering here, this Bedouin community becomes your community.


Photo Friday: The Treasury, Petra
Friday, January 21st, 2011

The Treasury - Petra

This Photo Friday of The Treasury in Petra is from Sherry Ott, who is volunteering in Jordan this month with GeoVisions.

Even though I’m in Jordan volunteering, the country is small and planning getaways to sight-see is quite simple. When you have the opportunity to travel, you have those moments…the moments where the dream becomes a reality. I’ve seen images of the Treasury in Petra many times, but I felt like I had to pinch myself when I was really standing in front of the massive ancient structure. It feels unreal.

At moments like this I like to sit down in a little secluded space, cross my legs and take it all in; let the reality sweep over me. The reality of Petra rushed through me like a tidal wave everywhere I looked. Massive, colorful, and…real.

What are some of your dream to reality moments?

In addition to her Volunteer Chronicles on Briefcase to Backpck, Sherry gets more in depth on her personal blog, OttsWorld. Check out updates from this week:

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Volunteer Chronicles: Settling In
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Fuheis Jordan

My host family home in the distance

I’ve volunteered numerous times, and not once have the experiences turned out to be what I was originally expecting! This isn’t due to false advertising; it’s due to my own expectations based on my own culture. The only thing the remains consistent in my volunteering experiences is that it never is as rigid, scheduled, and organized as I originally think they will be. My experience so far in Jordan with Conversation Corps certainly fits that statement.

It’s funny how we read volunteering brochures and paint the images in our mind of what we think it will be like based on our own culture.; after all, that’s all we know. Then we get there and realize that the experience is not exactly like what we thought it would be. Typically it’s less structured, and operates at a much slower pace than what we had imagined. In fact, volunteering constantly reminds me that my own American culture is rather uptight, impatient, and rigid.

The website about Conversation Corps talks about how in exchange for room and board you help your family with conversational English for 2 hrs a day, 5 days a week. When I see the words ‘help with conversation’, I immediately conjure up images of teaching, lesson plans, and organized learning process with a strategy and vision as to where you start and where you want to end up. To be prepared for this before I left the US I tried to put together a little strategy for how I would teach my family.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go