Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Youth Leadership Gathering 2017, Windsor Castle, Reflections by Kate Melville-Rea, Roots & Shoots UAE representative

I received the privilege to stay at Windsor Castle for a week, and meet with Roots & Shoots leaders from across the world.

The week taught me three important practices that I hope to use as I tackle new projects and disputes in the future. These are: the importance of collaboration over confrontation, humor’s ability to retain support and membership, and the art of using technology to foster compassion. Anecdotes from Jane’s own experiences of working with fellow people and organizations showed the importance of the first. She shared how publically criticizing someone or something will usually burn more bridges than it builds. If we properly understand the beliefs and motives of people, we should be able to find more effective and peaceful solutions. Jane also said, “if you get too serious, you lose people”, highlighting the importance of having fun and using humor. We saw this in action when she used Mr. H and Cow as conduits to talk about solemn topics in a playful and relatable manner. (Her playfulness also shone when she poured water on our heads). Like how two stuffed animals can foster human compassion towards animals, so can virtual reality. Seeing the footage of the Gombe National Park though a 3D headset revealed to me how technology can be used to reimagine ways to foster compassion for animals, and create a desire for conservation without the need to move and imprison actual live animals.

All in all, the week was incredible and I feel so privileged to have been able to meet so many passionate people, and receive care (whether through delicious meals, housekeeping, or monetary donations) from so many others. With this privilege comes responsibility, and I look forward to doing my best to live daily with the ethos shared by Roots & Shoots.

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