On April 8th, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a presentation put on by the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada (and other fantastic sponsors) at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium. And, you guessed it, the speaker and person of honour was none other than Jane Goodall herself!
This was my second time listening to Dr. Goodall speak about her work around the world. I enjoyed it just as much as the first -and the third, fourth and fifth, however many I am able to buy tickets to. Because I am an animal lover and primatology nerd, Dr. Goodall is something of an icon for me. Which is a significant statement for someone who can count the people they would consider overall inspirations on one hand. With fingers to spare.
Dr. Goodall is a woman of slight stature; she was nearly hidden behind the podium. A stuffed Jersey cow and a chimp holding a banana were her only on-stage companions. Her voice floated softly out of the surrounding speakers as she rearranged her shawl. None of this diminishes her power in the least, when her mouth opens you hush up and listen.
Jane Goodall: Conservationist and Humanitarian
Newsflash, Dr. Goodall is big on saving the planet. Her entire professional existence has been devoted to educating humans about animals, specifically, acknowledging them as creatures to be respected and the importance of protecting their habitat. That is simplifying her work extremely.
However, Dr. Goodall is also a promotor of eradicating human poverty. Save the people, save the animals, save the planet. It’s pretty easy to connect those dots, right?
I want to paraphrase a comment that really stuck out to me: “People, looking at the global problems we face, feel hopeless to solve them. Except youth. They see a problem and tackle it. When I look at global affairs I myself feel sad. But there is hope and we can change things for the better.”
Sometimes watching the news makes me want to hide under a blanket with my cats and cry. Hopeless is how I feel 90% of the time when I take care to learn about what’s going on around the world. One hour of news provides an enormous dose of despair. But maybe if I can be the change I want to see it’ll catch on and hopefulness will become my 90%? I’m not saying this will happen overnight but I would love to see it over the long term. We need more idealism in this world.
At any rate, her comment is something for me to think about. It’s inspiring. And can even apply to my own professional life.
I work a day job I enjoy but am not 100% devoted to. As it takes up more and more of my time, I start to feel hopeless because I’m not in the place I thought I would be at this stage of my writing career. Heck, I’m not even where I thought I would be in my personal life.
All the negativity, even in my own meagre existence, gets heavy. I need to look at the smaller pictures that make up my life and start positively influencing the ones I want to have a stronger presence.
My first Jane Goodall book.
Jane Goodall: Scientist and Woman in the World
Another newsflash, Jane Goodall is a feminist and believer in women’s rights! Not only did she open the doors of science with her initial study of chimpanzees, she opened the doors for women in science.
No one at the time thought that the three women Dr. Leaky sent out to study apes, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas would accomplish anything. Now they’re household names.
One of my favourite parts of the evening was listening to Dr. Goodall speak about her mother. Her mother who fostered her curiosity from a young age; who even travelled to Africa as 23-year-old Dr. Goodall’s companion when no one else would. How much more supportive could any mother get?
Of course, this made me think about my mom. I sing my dad’s praises a lot because he’s never treated me any different than my brother as far as perceived girls and boys skills go. He’s never told me I can’t do something because I’m a girl. He’s never treated me like a dumb china doll.
Neither has my mom. Some part of me believed that because she’s a woman she shouldn’t inherently treat me like I’m a second class citizen or teach me such values. My entire life I’ve taken for granted that my mom is a “forward thinking” woman because that’s the right way to be.
I now know that that’s hardly the case around the world and I am eternally grateful.
My mom is the one who taught me how to play sports, how to laugh at life even when it’s kicking you down, and to never let anyone trod over you. Our big mouths have gotten us both in trouble but we’re not silent wallflowers when it’s imperative we speak our minds.
I own a gorilla, not a chimp.
Moreover, like Dr. Goodall, I’ve found in my mom one of my biggest supporters. And not just because she has to be. My mom is the only other person who’s heard my poetry. She’s read most of my stories –even the one I wrote, illustrated, and bound with staples at the age of 8. She’s read essays about Agrippa, Elizabeth I and the Faerie Queen, and short stories I’m sure didn’t interest her in the least. But I needed a second set of eyes, so she said to send it her way.
I may not be a woman of Dr. Goodall’s stature in the world but I don’t know that I would be the person I am with the dreams I’m striving towards if another woman had raised me.
My evening with Jane Goodall was eye opening and entertaining. I left feeling a renewed hope that maybe humans will see the error of their ways in time and having learned a few things about myself.