Alumus Dean Jacobs is living his dream of traveling the world

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Janet Rodriguez, Staff Writer

“We may wear different clothes, speak a different language, have a different skin color and eat different food, but we are more alike than you think,” said WSC alumnus Dean Jacobs last week, during a visit to his alma mater.

This is the most important life lesson Jacobs has taken away after traveling to 54 different countries in the past 13 years.

After watching his life flash before his eyes while driving to Seattle in his Ford Bronco, Jacobs realized it was time to reevaluate his life.

He’s a Wayne State College biology graduate who wasn’t fulfilling his dream to travel the world. Instead, he found himself walking through cow doo-doo around the United States as a national dairy specialist. Although there was nothing wrong with this job, it wasn’t allowing him to see the rest of the word.

This is when his first adventure began. In 2001, he sold his house and used the money to carry out his dream. He limited himself to only $10 to $15 a day, allowing his trip to last two years throughout 28 different countries.

Since then, Jacobs has been on several different trips around the world, staying true to himself and his dreams.

He has been as high as 18,167 feet, the base camp of Mt. Everest, to as low as 410 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea.

As if ferry boats, trains, bicycles, pickups, buses and mopeds don’t sound fun enough, Jacobs also rode camels, ponies and donkeys. Aside from these animals, Jacobs also had the privilege to live along the volcanoes in Rwanda for seven and a half months, interacting with mountain gorillas.

Similar to the Seven Wonders of the World, Jacobs has his seven wonders of humanity, his seven lessons he has learned upon his world travels.

His first lesson comes from the pyramids of Giza, Egypt. This is where he mainly experienced generosity.

“People who have nothing want to give me everything,” Jacobs said. “They considered me a guest in their country.”

Lesson number two comes from Victoria Falls, Zambia, a mile-long water fall in southern Africa.

“Never let fear stop you,” Jacobs said.

He sure didn’t. He flew over the river, then went rafting in it, despite his inability to swim. This is where he experienced gratitude. No matter how many times Jacobs flew off that raft into the river with crocodiles, the other members on board were always there to pull him back in.

During his stay in Ethiopia, he visited the stone churches, where he ended up with connections to refugee camps and was able to fly with some of those refugees back to their home. He encountered dignity when these passengers sang and danced on their landing.

His fourth lesson comes from his mountain gorilla friends in Rwanda. One little gorilla followed him around, looking at his reflection through the Nikon lens, showing curiosity.

Jacobs went through two weeks of silence during his stay in Taj Mahal, India.

“Own who you are, without having to prove yourself to anyone,” Jacobs said.

This is where humility comes in. He met people of high power who remained simple and humble, along with refugees to whom he taught English.

The marble mountain in Vietnam gave Jacobs a sense of respect. He stood in front of a Buddha shrine inside the marble mountain, with the sunshine coming in graciously over the shrine through a hole on the top.

He watched a dandelion seed slowly make its way through the sunlight, landing on the palm of his hand as he held it out in the light.

This was one of those situations that he took as a sign that he was doing exactly what he should be doing. He was right where he needed to be.

Jacobs spent days on the Trans-Siberian railroad in Russia. During this journey, he didn’t talk very much with the others due to the language barrier, yet he experienced kindness.

The serious-looking man on-board was the one who covered him at night when his blanket fell off.

“Never judge a book by its cover,” Jacobs said.

The “babushka” (grandma) aboard spent the trip knitting him socks for the cold weather.

“Russia cold,” the babushka said.