Jane Goodall-Tara Golshan
Those We Meet Can Change Us
During a trip to Kenya a couple of years ago I read Yann Martell’s Life of Pi. I was struck by one of the lines, which reads: “It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterward.”
That is exactly how I would sum up my eight years working with Jane. She has changed me at the deepest level. Having studied marketing and business, I was working in the “cut-throat” business sector before joining the Institute. Profit, P&L’s, bottom lines, and a certain degree of ruthlessness were all part of my everyday experience. You had to be that way in order to succeed.
Feeling unfulfilled in that environment and knowing that something was missing in my life, I decided to move into the non-profit sector. I have never looked back. My interview with Jane was at Heathrow airport. Where else? Once I met her, I was hooked. There was no turning back.
I have been privileged to spend a lot of time with Jane and have travelled with her on many occasions. She has an inner peacefulness that seems to emanate from her very soul. She is wise, dedicated, and resilient; and she has a tremendous vision and understanding of the world around her.
She has taught me to have more compassion for my fellow man and to appreciate the environment around me. Much more importantly, she has led me to change individually, personally, starting with the simple things--as in her motto, “Everyone can make a difference every day . . . no matter how small.”
For my part, I recycle a lot more, use solar panels, turn off the IT and the taps and assist in the local community whenever I can. I am kinder to my neighbors. I also do a lot more public speaking in schools. The hope that comes from young people, their shining eyes that Jane describes so well, is enough to get me out of bed every morning with excitement and anticipation for the day ahead. Jane has taught me about the importance of the next generation and the planet that I would want my child to inherit.
People around me find it rather odd when I say I love my job. I guess we who work with Jane are the lucky few. It is hard to write examples of my specific experiences of her in a few paragraphs. There are so many. But the one that will always stay with me was when my mother died. Lost in grief and not functioning very well, I received a letter from Jane on tour in the US, reminding me of all that was important in my world and to pick myself up and carry on. I took the advice and continued on life’s journey. After all, the key message she brings to people across the world is one of hope.
Tara Golshan, Executive Director for Education at the Jane Goodall Institute-US, manages the Roots & Shoots program.