On Wednesday, November 7, Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist, environmentalist, and humanitarian who became famous for her work observing chimpanzees in what is now Tanzania, made her tenth visit to the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB). Dr. Goodall visited with student members of WAB’s Roots & Shoots club, and then spoke with a large audience about her work and the importance of making a difference and caring for the world we live in. Make sure to check back later this afternoon for the question and answer session with Dr. Goodall.
Dr. Goodall started the afternoon at a small conference with elementary, middle, and high school Roots & Shoots students from WAB and Daystar Academy. The students introduced the projects they were working on, which ranged from a push to get one thousand people to pledge not to eat shark’s fin, to an animal shelter project, to a project to clean up WAB’s own Duck Lake.
Dr. Goodall’s talk, part of WAB’s Distinguished Speaker Series, was open to the public, and the Founder’s Theater was filled beyond capacity. Dr. Goodall spoke at length about her work in Tanzania and reminisced about the chimpanzees she observed and interacted with at Gombe Stream National Park in the 1960s. Dr. Goodall observed that chimpanzees exhibit many human-like behaviors, from begging for food to creating tools and exhibiting aggression, and demonstrated that chimps (and animals) are not just things, but beings with thoughts and personalities. She remarked that she had been fascinated by Africa since she was a little girl, and as a lover of Tarzan, lamented the fact that he married the wrong Jane.
Dr. Goodall then spoke about preservation and environmentalism. Roots & Shoots is the youth branch of the Jane Goodall Institute, and Roots & Shoots focuses on giving youth the tools they need to make a difference in the world. She stressed the importance of the work that students in Roots & Shoots do, and expressed her belief that despite the ruin that has come to many areas of our environment, she feels there is hope, and that today’s youth will be instrumental in repairing and resurrecting the environment and protecting endangered species.
Following a brief VIP reception, Dr. Goodall paid a visit to WAB’s Duck Lake, which used to be a polluted stream in the middle of campus, but was in 2007 cleaned and turned into a wetlands used for student research. She met with a team of students who have been investigating pollution in the water, and discussed with her what steps they should take to solve the pollution problem.
Dr. Goodall is a longtime friend of WAB; in 1994, WAB was the first school in China to have a chapter of Roots & Shoots. Roots & Shoots encourages positive change and local action through service projects and campaigns. Click here to watch Dr. Goodall’s entire speech.
Photos by Ellis Friedman