JCJC students inspired to dream with the “Dean of Travel”

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2013-10-28 13:06:48

ELLISVILLE – Fremont, Neb. resident and the self-proclaimed, “Dean of Travel,” Dean Jacobs visited the Charles Pickering Honors Institute at Jones County Junior College with one goal in mind, “to remind students dreams are the birthright of all humanity. Dreams come true for ordinary guys like me,” Jacobs stated.
The world-wide traveler and biologist shared with the group of college students how his dream got lost when he entered the corporate world. As a Pzifer drug representative for ten years in Seattle, Wash., and San Diego, Calif., Jacobs said he was doing well financially, especially for a farm-boy from Nebraska who grew up without much. 
However, he explained, “The question plagued me, how much stuff do you really need to be happy?” Jacobs continued, “On my way back from the mountains, my truck lost control after being hit by another car and I tumbled down the mountain, hitting a snow bank.”
It was then he said he remembered all the things he wanted to do, like travel the world. That’s when his journey toward making his dream a reality, began. He shared with the JCJC college students, “I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done before that time. I called Pzifer, quit my job, I sold my house and I began my adventure.”
His first adventure spanned nearly two years, covering 28 countries. It led him to the jungles of Rwanda to live amongst the gorillas in the Dian Fossey project for seven months to climbing the Himalayan Mountains to see Mt. Everest. Jacobs challenged the JCJC students to find a way to live their dreams, and explore the world like he did, on a budget of $10 to $15 dollars a day.
“That small budget put me in contact with ordinary people,” he explained.  “What I’ve learned is, we are far more alike than different….People who have nothing, gave me everything. In Sudan, as I got on the bus, the driver told me someone already paid my fare. The driver explained to Jacobs, ‘You’re a guest in our country. It’s our responsibility to take care of you.’”
The photographer said he likes to capture “ordinary people,” the amazing animals and the natural wonders of the world. In all, Jacobs has traveled through more than 50 countries since 2001 and is the founder of the Travel for Life Foundation. He has also authored two books and has spoken to elementary kids and adults around the world.   
One of the lessons he discovered on his journeys happened shortly after embarking on his dream adventure. When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Jacobs recalled being in Cairns, Australia when he noticed a crowd of people going into a cathedral for a candle vigil.
“After hearing my accent, people came up to me and said they were sorry for what happened in the U.S.” Looking at the students, Jacobs emphasized, “We have friends in the world. It just doesn’t make the news. I know there are bad things out there but there are a million good things happening too. We just don’t hear about them.”

Uncertain if he should continue his travel plans to Indonesia, he learned another life-lesson. Rumors of sweeping terrorists acts throughout the region were expected. He said it drove millions of tourists out of the region. 

“People in Indonesia warned me to be careful, because of these rumors, which were hurting the ordinary people. I decided to ask them, ‘Should I be worried?’ I decided to follow my heart. My plans for a two week visit turned into two months.”
Jacobs just completed exploring the Mississippi River, after already discovering the Nile River on his initial adventure.  In October 2011, he spent six months traveling down the Amazon River, while also dedicating a good portion of his time and energy to helping the Achuar people and connecting American students with Achuar youth.  His plans include compiling a presentation on the three largest rivers in the world focusing on their similarities, differences, cultures along the rivers, and what we can learn from these rivers. As Jacobs shares his stories, he said he hopes to change his audiences’ perspective about the people and cultures in the world, while also helping them remember their dreams. Ultimately, his mission is the same for everyone he meets; “Which story do you want to write about your life? It’s your choice. If you can’t find anything good, you be the change.”

After his visit, JCJC Honors Institute students sent Jacobs their thoughts on his presentation. While the stack of letters reassured Jacobs he is meeting his goal, he was especially proud of one student’s comments.

“It seems that at the end of the day that the most amazing things Dean found in traveling the world were not the sights of tourism, but the little interactions with the common people. He is one of the few people who define success not in money, but in happiness and I respect him for this. In my opinion, the world could use a few more people like Dean Jacobs.”

When Jacobs is not traveling, he keeps busy as a contributing newspaper columnist, photojournalist, children’s book author, and keynote presenter across the country. For more information about Jacobs, click on the links: http://www.deanjacobs.org/ and http://www.deanjacobs.org/foundation.html.


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