The Blog

Roots, Shoots, and Dreams

We are young and perhaps 'crazy' at times.

When I was in kindergarten, I was an introverted little girl who had secret dreams. I vividly recall that in the bright classroom with a view of the outside world, the little pony toys and Barbie dolls were at my service. I cuddled them closely, and imagined us in another world, where we were all equals. Why should we ride horses? Do they not feel pain? I would never want anyone to ride on me and whip me! Though I did not know what the word 'animal rights' meant at the time, I continued to fantasize at times, unwittingly blending my passion of conservation and creative writing together as I continue to do more consciously now. At the age of five, for instance, I wrote a little poem which ended with 'That's the water crying' after observing how the water ended up in the sink and did not return. I enquired with my mother if the water I washed my hands with would be reused through a certain device, so that another happy family could wash their hands and clothes, with a great degree of certainty that the answer would be a 'yes'.

But hang on... let the ideas soar! Why not?

Fantasies those ideas might have been, but I confess that a majority of them are in fact fulfilled. However, the likelihood of turning irrational naivety to rational reality may not be that great, since experience is always demanded.

One of the ways to turn our lack of experience into feasible ideas is to have personal role models. They do not have to be the greatest, most infallible philosopher or moral guide ever, and in fact, they might be like us: another child in the past who dared to dream, to defy conventions of the academia and society at large.

Another one of us 'dreamers'...

Dr. Jane Goodall is a role model for many. Needless to say, the British primatologist, whose groundbreaking research broke new ground in the field of animal behaviorism, has inspired us in myriad ways.

Derived from a girlhood dream, the ambition to study the behavior of this particular species led Dame Goodall to be one of the foremost inspirational figures in schools and local communities across the globe. Remember that the cultural context of her achievements was a less open-minded European country, where females were not expected to study science, let alone say travel to Africa to observe chimpanzees. As a young girl, Jane Goodall took worms to her bed as her guests of thenight to share the warmth and coziness of her company. This was certainly not something a girl would normally do. Nevertheless, Dr. Goodall's dream guided her to be such a powerful scientist, whose career was furthered by the introduction of her Institute's umbrella program, Roots & Shoots (R&S).

The seeds of awareness are planted!

Roots & Shoots members focus on a variety of global issues by taking initiative and action in our own communities. The scope of influence increases over time. Take my school's Roots & Shoots group I founded in 2011 as an example. We started among a group of twelve friends before the group was officially registered, brainstorming issues we wanted to focus on and recycling together. As the new Enrichment Activity round started, we welcomed thirty members to start the Organic Grow Project and later, the No Shark Fin Soup Campaign. Soon, we outreached to another conservation group in New Jersey, USA, to do co-advocacy projects including pledging against hydraulic fracturing. Later, we extended the group to our Elementary School to bridge the gap between the Elementary and Upper Schools, so that not only can younger students engage in global issues using their creativity, they also get to meet elder students in a classroom setting.

We, like many other Roots & Shoots groups around the globe, also pay attention to appearing at all kinds of public events, fundraising and planting the seeds of awareness in other people's heads through bake sales, pledge signing activities, organic food fairs, and so forth.

I personally believe that youth conservation demands much media attention and hope that this post can inspire you to further your actions in environmental protection.