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Growing with Roots & Shoots

April, 2006
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IMG_6344 Walking to the front of the room, my palms were sweating…

  I was about to give a speech in front of eighty people at a special fund-raiser for the Jane Goodall Institute in China. Standing next to me was a woman I truly admire: Dr. Jane Goodall, the founder of Root & Shoots.

  Giving the speech was the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done for Roots & Shoots. I felt very lucky to have been chosen for the honor.

  I first learned about Roots & Shoots after my mom and dad went to Beijing for job interviews at the International School of Beijing (ISB). While they were there, my mom met with Mrs. Wilson, the Roots & Shoots leader for the elementary school. When my parents got home, they told me about a project that the Roots & Shoots club was working on to save China’s moon bears from the terrible practice of bile extraction. When I heard about that I knew what I wanted to do for my third grade project, and I knew I would join Roots & Shoots when I got to Beijing.

  Once I moved to Beijing, I joined the club and started to learn more about this wonderful organization. Roots & Shoots was founded by Dr. Goodall in 1991 to help people, animals and the environment– basically, the planet.IMG_6436

  You already know about the moon bear project, so you’re probably wondering what we did for people and the environment. Every year we have a dinner or breakfast fund-raiser for one big charity. Last year, we had a dinner to raise money for the Magic Hospital. This hospital’s motto is “Laughter is the best medicine.” They have clowns come in and play with the very sick children to help them feel better. At our dinner, some of the clowns came and gave a performance. This year, we had a pancake breakfast to raise money for our school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. At both of these fund-raisers, I sold tickets and managed games that kids could play. We raised a large amount of money and donated it to the two organizations.

  We also care about making our school look nicer and improving the environment. I was in a group that planted flowers around the kindergarten playground and in front of the school. Every other day, we would go out and take care of our planters.

  International Peace Day on September 24th is an important time for all Roots & Shoots groups around the world. Last year, we got together with other schools in Beijing to celebrate, and each school gave special performances. Our school IMG_6349performed a poem and made a “peace pole.” The peace pole had “peace” written in many different languages on it.

   Then, in December 2005, Dr. Jane came back to Beijing for the Roots & Shoots Festival. There were many different opportunities to show Dr. Jane all of the Roots & Shoots projects here in Beijing. All of the groups from the Beijing area filed into an auditorium to listen to Dr. Jane. After we sang the Roots & Shoots song, Dr. Jane gave out achievement awards for our projects. I was also fortunate enough to be selected to attend the taping of Dr. Jane’s CCTV9 interview. I liked the way the audience participated in this show by asking and answering questions and making comments.

  Roots & Shoots and Jane Goodall have changed my life in many ways. For one thing, I have an enormous deal of respect for humans, plants and animals now. I realize that helping others is sometimes more important than helping yourself. I worry about how the next generation probably won’t have as many resources as we have now because they are being used up.

  Meeting Dr. Jane and understanding more about the important work she does has inspired me to always try to find a way to help others, and to “be a brave person” as she told me after my speech that day.

By Katie Osterlund

Katie is an 11 year old American girl studying at the International School of Beijing, as well as being a volunteer at Roots & Shoots.

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