February 12, 2013

Dancing with the chimps

One if the reasons I love my life in Paris is that you gain access to events you would not usually attend unless you live in a big metropole.

Two months ago we watched Placido Domingo receive a nomination as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. The next day, I actually was introduced to him personally since we happend to be having lunch at the table next to him. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Tonight we had a chance to meet Dr Jane Goodall, a British primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace. She had been invited by the kids' school to stand question and answer about her life's work. Along with Diane Fossey (the gorilla lady), Jane Goodall (the chimpanzee lady) is also known as one of Leakey's angels. The archaeologist Louis Leakey sent them to study primates in their natural environments in the 60's when very little was known about these primates.

After having watched her biography in the version of a two-hour film called "Jane's journey", it was up to us to stretch her mind with our questions. I fear we did not live up to her (or ours for that matter) standards as an International institution since we filled most of the scheduled time with dancing and music recitals rather than taking advantage of her endless source of knowledge on studying chimps while living in Gombe Stream National Park of Tanzania.

Heading into her eighties she seemed full of energy and certainly transmitted her passion for her cause called "Roots and Shoots".

I feel as if we were too busy in making it a memorable evening by charging it with as many activities as possible rather than just listening to what she had to say. Students were so eager to "entertain" her with their performance art that when it finally came to its excruciating end, Ms Goodall said, "Right. Well, that was very weird." She invited us to challenge her with our questions and I can't say we did.

It seems a real pity to have missed such a unique opportunity. Next time maybe a little more preparation and organization could make an extraordinary visit turn into a distinguished event.

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