This is a guest post from senior Everly Jazi.
We were sitting in DePauw’s auditorium—Lisa, Ms. Summit-Mann, my mother, and I—thinking that this was it. This was what we were all waiting for, and as an official-looking man in a suit walked up to the microphone, we held our breath in anticipation. “I want to welcome you all to the Jane Goodall Ubben Lecture we have put on tonight,” the man waited for the applause to die down, “I just wanted to warn you that we have some severe weather in the area, but it should be fine. The presentation will begin in thirty more minutes.”
So, we had to wait for another thirty minutes. But it was worth it because once the scientist that has defined our modern-day knowledge of biology and animal behavior walked on stage, nothing else mattered. There she was, Dr. Jane Goodall, fifty feet away, giving a speech that we were watching in person. Can you believe it? I remember watching a PBS special about this brilliant woman who worked with chimpanzees in Tanzania as a little girl. Now here we were.
Goodall started out with what Mr. Thomas would call a cultural connection, relating the rain outside to chimpanzees and how they, in a way, rain dance. She explained how she first came to love learning about animals when she witnessed a chicken laying an egg, and later while reading Dr. Doolittle and Tarzan. She gave a background into how a series of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities came together to lead her to the chimpanzees she is famous for studying. She talked about how chimpanzees are interesting to study because they are so much like us. Chimpanzees are capable of learning sign language and even reading numbers. Their emotions – altruism, sympathy, violence, anger – are similar to ours.
Having learned about all of these wonderful things about chimpanzees, Goodall decided to attend college at Cambridge University in order to get a Ph.D. More than twenty years later, at a 1986 conference, Goodall decided to become more involved in conservation of the Earth’s resources. She witnessed the youth of today becoming more and more depressed over the hopelessness of climate change.
Goodall soon stepped in with her “Roots for Shoots” program though, campaigning for a time when the natural world and humans will live in peace and harmony. A defining point was about the resilience of nature. A tree starts out small and grows stronger, she explained, pushing the rocks and dirt out of the way in order to get to the Sun. Climate change can be reversed with perseverance and adaptability because nature is this resilient. Most of all, right now is not too late.
By telling her stories around the world, Goodall has spread her message of conservation. She says that we need to become aware that every choice we make has an opportunity to make a difference. Goodall explains that what sets us apart from chimpanzees is the wisdom we have to think of other generations, to develop ideas, and to carry them on into the future.
“Nature can provide enough for human need, but nature cannot provide enough for human greed.” – Gandhi