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In ancient Israel, among other places, farmers conserved the fertility of their soils by letting their fields lay fallow every seventh year. Even the Bible mandates that “you may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it.” Thus the concept of the Sabbath year was born.

Farsighted employers like International Rivers keep up the tradition of the sabbatical, even if in our case, the fallow period has been reduced to three month. After six years with International Rivers, I am currently enjoying my first sabbatical. I am replenishing my energies with reading, hiking, enjoying our beautiful backyard, and learning Chinese. Zhong guo du zhe hui you xing qu huo zhi zai zhe qi jian wo jiang he wo de zhong guo nu peng you jie hun. We will conclude my sabbatical by traveling across the United States by train.

I will be back in the office at the end of August. Let’s hope my sabbatical will bring a bountiful harvest to International Rivers’ policy program.

Peter Bosshard is the policy director of International Rivers. His blog appears at