Friday, June 05, 2009

Jane Goodall in The Living Room!

Jane Goodall is one of those legendary people whom I've heard about, read about, but never imagined I'd spend an exclusive hour with, in intimate conversation. I swear I so love my job! *grin*

I came to work in green because today is World Environment Day. And what better way to commemorate this day than to chat with this world-renowned primatologist & conservationist?

In the summer of 1960, Jane left England for Tanzania, Africa, to study chimpanzees in the Gombe Reserve. At the time, it was unheard of for a woman to be living in the African forest. And she was then just 26! 

But her study became such a scientific milestone that Jane was admitted to Cambridge University in 1962 as a PhD candidate - one of the very few ever to be admitted without a college degree. Jane graduated with a doctorate degree in Ethology in 1965. 

In 2002, Jane was appointed a United Nations 'Messenger of Peace', and in 2004, a Dame of the British Empire, the equivalent of a knighthood.  

Yet, what struck me about Jane Goodall was how simple, soft-spoken and gentle she is. There's a Zen-ness about her. She's not one who trumpets her ideals atop a soapbox, but one who rolls up her sleeves and goes quietly to work. 

And travelling with her to 59 countries is her stuffed monkey, Mr H. [pictured] 

In preparation for this interview, I Googled her and came across many photos of him online. So I was thrilled to see him sitting at the waiting area outside the 938LIVE studio with Jane! 

After a quick 'hello' to her, I zoomed in on Mr H because to me, he's almost as famous as she is! *chuckle* He was given her by an inspirational blind magician, Gary Haun, 13 years ago. Since then, she's carried this stuffed monkey wherever she goes. Isn't he just so adorable?

Jane's stuffed monkey Mr H. sits facing me on the conty counter.

We had such an enlightening conversation with Jane! She took our questions calmly and answered with such wisdom & clarity that it upped my respect for her 100 notches. 

And when I had the opportunity, I scrambled over to have her to autograph my copy of her book, Reason For Hope. I had gone down to Borders the night before just to grab a copy!

"Follow your heart" ~ Jane Goodall wrote on my book. Simple. Succinct. Yet, when I think about how she, at age 11 (in the midst of World War II), had a dream to live with animals in the wild, and how she followed her own heart - despite naysayers - this piece of advice becomes nothing short of priceless. 

Because Jane followed her heart, she challenges & empowers me to follow mine. And follow my heart, I will. As Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry wrote in one of my all-time favourite books, The Little Prince:

“It is only with the heart
 that one can see rightly; 
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
To find out more about her, visit the Jane Goodall Institute website

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