On November 8, Dr. Jane Goodall graced BCIS with her presence once again as part of her most recent trip to China. Students, teachers, and staff members warmly welcomed the good doctor with enthusiastic applause to hear her speak about her amazing life story. Her visit provided much sunshine to all those that were able to see her. It is no exaggeration to mention everyone that heard her speak at these interactive discussion sessions remained in a state of disbelief and awe. Dr. Goodall was first greeted by the leaders of the school, who she presented with a Certificate of Achievement as a token of her appreciation for all the school has done for the Beijing office of the charitable organization she founded, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). She then met with various groups of students and staff members that held on to her every word throughout her talks and sought her views on many pertinent questions ranging from her expert knowledge of chimpanzees to how to deal with challenges. Although soft-spoken, she was able to completely captivate the audience with her natural commanding and motherly air, and reinforce her mission of “creating a world where we can live in harmony with nature.”
BCIS and Dr. Goodall share a special bond that dates back to 2006, when the school offered to provide office space for the Jane Goodall Institute China. This has served as the Beijing Headquarters for running JGI’s Roots & Shoots program. The space has been very valuable to the organization, allowing them to run activities from a convenient location in the center of Beijing. Boosted by this close relationship, BCIS has run its own Roots & Shoots group for several years now, sharing the common purpose of helping children and youth to be compassionate and inspired people that act for the good of all and for the sustainable development of the world. Therefore, it is both the organization and school’s desire to educate, motivate, and empower young people to provoke curiosity and encourage them to lead their own learning and action. As Dr. Goodall says, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual can make a difference.”
Staff from the JGI Beijing office working on the Roots & Shoots program reflected on some of the many benefits of the organization’s relationship with BCIS:
“Being based in BCIS has enabled us to develop close working relationships with BCIS teachers. We have often been invited into BCIS classrooms to assist with teaching about animal conservation and about basic knowledge of animal care. We have also learned ourselves from the BCIS teachers about teaching methods and this has helped develop our work in educating young people in China. In recent years, we have developed English language teaching materials for international schools, which are being very well received.”
“We are able to have an especially close relationship with the BCIS Roots & Shoots group. We enjoy watching the progress of the Roof Garden annually. This year, we ran a pilot activity with the BCIS Roots & Shoots group to see how “Community Mapping” could work in a local group. Community mapping is one of the four steps of the Roots & Shoots program in the United States, but has not been used much before in China. Using resources from our U.S. colleagues, we started to work with BCIS and the Roots & Shoots group members to see how mapping could support student-led activity for the environment, animals, and the community in the BCIS context. This activity has also been a great example of how we aim to develop young leaders, engaging a young intern from the United States to develop his own skills, while working with us. We have all learned together.”
Dr. Jane Goodall is most well-known as a scientist whose research into chimpanzees in Tanzania transformed the way people understand these creatures, as well as other animals and even humans. In addition, her work with young people and communities continues to inspire individual action to help others, including animals and our natural world. Today, her work revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, particularly chimpanzees, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment we all share. To solidify her message even further, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) was founded as a global nonprofit focused on inspiring individual action to improve the understanding, welfare, and conservation of great apes, as well as safeguard the planet we all share. Its mission is based on Dr.Goodall’s belief that the well-being of our world relies on people taking an active interest in all living things, and that each of us truly has the power to make a difference.
In addition to the JGI’s community-centered conservation throughout Africa’s Congo Basin, its Roots & Shoots program provides support to young people in more than 130 countries across the globe as they work to make positive change in their own communities. Roots & Shoots began in Beijing in 1994 and the JGI China office was officially established in 2000 to run the program. Since that time, there have been more than 1,000 active R&S school groups in China, encompassing primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Currently there are more than 700 active groups, including in many international schools in Beijing and around China. Roots & Shoots encourages and supports youth to engage in “service learning” in which they learn about issues to do with the environment, animals, and their community, as well as take action through community service to make a difference for the better. By participating in the program, young people learn through experience and education and develop as young leaders.
In addition to supporting Roots & Shoots groups, JGI China partners with both local and international organizations to address issues of environmental conservation, animal welfare, and community building through projects associated with the themes of environment, animals, and community. Current projects are:
School Garden project – Any school interested can request to take part and receive assistance in setting up an outdoor or indoor garden at school.
Clear Water Project – Teaching about the value of wetlands, biodiversity, mapping skills, etc.
Guardians of the Elephants - Elephant conservation and ivory awareness.
No Shark Fin - Knowledge about sharks and awareness of shark finning issues.
Migrant Children’s Environmental Education Project – Teach nature classes to children in migrant schools who often have a very poor science curriculum at school.
Dr. Goodall has stated, “We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place – or not to bother.” For those interested in learning how they can make a positive impact in the world, please visit www.jgichina.org/en.