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October 26, 2004

Author, explorer Ghinsberg to tell story of survival in Amazon


photo of Yossi GhinsbergWhat began as a dream adventure for four backpackers quickly became dangerous and, ultimately, a life-changing experience.

Yossi Ghinsberg, an Israeli dreamer, eager explorer, and author of the book “Heart of the Amazon,” will tell his remarkable story of survival at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Robert Brown Theatre at Cowley College’s Arkansas City campus. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students and may be purchased at the Sid Regnier Bookstore at 207 W. Fifth Ave. in Arkansas City, or by calling (620) 441-5277.

Ghinsberg’s appearance is part of Heartland Arts at Cowley, a cultural arts series featuring speakers, dancers, musicians and other forms of entertainment throughout the academic year.

Dejon Ewing, chair of Cowley’s Humanities Department, was among five Cowley employees who heard Ghinsberg speak at a leadership conference in Anaheim, Calif., last year.

“I remember being absolutely riveted by his story,” Ewing said. “In telling his tale, he was honest. He told of some situations that happened in which he was later ashamed of his behavior. He was descriptive. The listeners were transported to the darkest parts of the humid, dripping and frightening forest. He was forthright. He told of some of the most incredible acts of despair and of courage that I have ever heard. His story about the deadly green spitting snake is one I will never forget. And finally, he was hopeful. He says that despite where he was born and reared, he is a citizen of the world. He implores people to respect one another, to take lessons from nature, and pull together as one.”

Ghinsberg was born and reared in Israel. He served three years in the Israeli navy on the Red Sea. There, he befriended the Bedouins of the Sinai Desert that greatly influenced him with their wholesome philosophy and nomadic lifestyle.

He graduated from Tel Aviv University with degrees in philosophy and business, followed by a comprehensive study of the “Kabala” in academic as well as authentic environments.

His book, “Heart of the Amazon,” is based on his harrowing adventures in South America. It first was published in 1986 and soon became an international bestseller.

In the midst of the uncharted Amazon, after losing his three companions, Ghinsberg was tested to the extreme through three harrowing weeks of sheer survival. He lived to tell the amazing story as well as how the ordeal profoundly affected his understanding of himself and his life purpose.

Sheree Utash, Cowley’s vice president of academic and student affairs who also heard Ghinsberg’s speech in California, also was impressed.

“Yossi has a spellbinding story to tell,” Utash said. “He delivers his message with such a passion and trepidation that you feel as though you are a part of the journey as he tells about his courageous and frightening experience in the Amazon jungle! You won’t want to miss this chance to be engaged by Yossi’s adventure!”

A master storyteller and inspirational speaker, Ghinsberg’s Laws of the Jungle challenge audiences on emotional as well as intellectual grounds. His talks inspire and motivate people and organizations to:

  • Never choose the path of a victim;
  • Always maintain responsibility;
  • Meet fears and obstacles from a place of strength and wisdom;
  • Ride on the waves of change, as it is futile to resist them;
  • Understand life as something that happens for you, not to you; and
  • Build a solid base of operation: positive emotions, gratitude and grace.

Ghinsberg believes adversity is a part of life, and that being a victim is a matter of choice.

“It’s not about what happens, it is about the way you perceive it,” he said.

“Generally, most of us believe the source of any problem is found outside of oneself,” Ghinsberg said. “This attitude inevitably results in grief. If the source of a problem is perceived as external, then one immediately employs blame, which generates hostility, aggression, fear, envy and other such negative emotions.”

Ghinsberg still sports an insatiable passion for adventure in the most remote corners of the planet, guided by only an atlas. Recent travels have taken him to the islands of Papua New Guinea and Madagascar and to the sub-continents of India and China.

His new book, “Glimpses,” is due for publication later this year.

Ghinsberg is married to Belinda, and he is the father of two daughters, Mia and Cayam. He divides his time between the rainforest of Australia and the East Coast of the United States.