Jane Goodall’s Adventure Story

The following blog post was written by Danielle Blackmore.

Jane Goodall is someone many of us recognize for her work with chimpanzees, but the significance of her work in the scientific community and for women is something people are less familiar with. However, after learning more about her and her work, I think that her accomplishments warrant a closer look not only for the gains she made for science, but also for the path she helped pave for other women scientists to come after her. So, in the following post I share the importance of Jane Goodall’s accomplishments in the hope that her work for science and for women can be better appreciated.

Jane grew up in England in the 1930’s, and at the age of 26 began observing chimpanzees in Tanzania. During this time, she took unconventional routes to conducting research that challenged previous scientific findings. Instead of numbering chimps for example, she gave them names and observed them to have unique and individual personalities. At the time it was believed that naming chimps would take away from the observer’s ability to be objective, but in Goodall’s case it added to her findings. Jane for instance, found there are more similarities that exist between chimps and humans than just in our genetic makeup- we have emotions, intelligence, and family and social relationships in common. She also made other findings that challenged longstanding beliefs at the time, such as the belief that only humans could construct tools and that chimps were vegetarians.

Before she initially took the trip to Tanzania to conduct this work, a lot of people doubted Goodall’s abilities because she didn’t complete her degree and lacked a formal science education. Furthermore, Jane Goodall conducted this work at a time when women were fighting for rights in the third wave of feminism, and encountered challenges deeper than scientific credibility.

In her current life, Jane Goodall travels around the world giving talks at college campuses and advocates for animal and human rights issues. She mentioned that since her time in science, the field has definitely changed, but that there are still a lot of misconceptions about women and science. For example, Goodall explained that in a trip to China, she met a young woman who was studying pandas but didn’t believe she could become a scientist due to her gender.

However, the girl told Goodall that after she read a book Jane wrote about her experiences in the field of primotology, it gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her dream of studying pandas.

Fun Facts about Jane:

☆ Her favorite books growing up were Tarzan and Dr. Dolittle (she said herself she knew she’d be a much better jungle companion for Tarzan than that other Jane).
☆ She is still alive and active today, speaking to groups of students, meeting with government officials to discuss conservation issues, sitting before television cameras for interviews, and meeting with donors to raise money for the Jane Goodall Institute- which is a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things.

Did you Know…

Jane Goodall is a vegetarian and advocates for others to take up a vegetarian diet for ethical, environmental, and health reasons.

She has an affinity for working with young people and is determined to use just about every minute she has working to save chimps and to empower people- young and old- to do what they can for a better world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A “***Flawless” Figure

The following was written by Becky Celestina, League Intern

3527cd41287ab9d66473e112dbd339c6e515ef38_1600x1200Though you may not know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie by name, you may know her by voice; Beyoncé, in her popular song “***Flawless,” sampled a talk on feminism that Adichie gave. The feminist principles that Adichie discusses as well as her influence as a writer makes her a woman worth talking about this Women’s History Month.

Adichie was born in Nigeria, and moved to the United States when she was 19. She is an acclaimed short story and novel writer and has won a variety of awards for her writing. She has also given two TED talks, one about the concept of the “single story” and one on the importance of being a feminist.

In Adichie’s TED talk on the dangers of a “single story,” she states that the idea of a “single story” flattens groups of people and values certain narratives over others. This concept of one story or one version of a story is a something we see all the time in movies, television shows, books, etc.

As a storyteller, Adichie defines this concept in relation to our predispositions about other people, specifically, saying that it, “[shows] people as one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” She says that:

“How they [stories] are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told are really dependent on power. Power is the ability to not just tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person”

Power dictates what stories we hear to the point that we expect people from other countries to fit the stories we hear about them. The reality, however, is that people cannot be compacted into such rigid and small boxes. Adichie calls for more diverse stories to be published as well as for more diverse voices to tell their stories. She says that the single story, “creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete.” We need to hear many stories to avoid these incomplete stereotypes.

I admit, I found out about Adichie from Beyoncé’s song — I was struck by what Adichie spoke about in the sample (which came from her talk on why everyone should be feminists) and after watching both of her TED talks in full, I knew Adichie had an interesting perspective on feminism, gender roles and the value of diverse storytellers.

As someone coming from a media background, I’m constantly looking at films and television shows with a critical lens and after watching Adichie’s talk on the single story I started to see how problematic the single story is in practice. I would see it in television shows that rely on stereotypes of specific groups of people and in movies that never show anyone other than cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied white people. I saw the single story in action.

The single story takes away what makes someone’s culture so valuable and interesting. Adichie writes about her life as an African and as a feminist; she’s telling another story, her own story.

I wanted to include Adichie in a blog post for Women’s History Month because she’s encouraging people to tell their own stories and take control of their identity. Adichie writes honestly and candidly, not feeling hesitant because her stories don’t conform to what people say “African literature” should conform to.

I am passionate about Adichie’s call for the expansion of the single story because, looking at my own life and experience with stories, I realize if I did not actively seek out diverse stories, I would never hear them. These stories fill in cultural gaps and help me to see people as real living beings with important lives, even if I’ve never met them.

So whether you diversify your exposure to stories through TED talks or Beyoncé songs, realize that every new story you hear broadens your sense of your own world. Adichie wants people to tell their own stories, and I think she’s pretty “flawless” for that.

Why I Vote

The following is written by Paul Barudin, League Intern.

Possibly our first really important influence as to why we vote is our parents. From an early age they teach us about our life, how to live it, and how to shape it into what we will ultimately be living in. From learning to drive, to making food, to voting, our parents help us to define who we are, what we think and more importantly, why we think those things, even if we happen to disagree. Guy Barudin is my father as well as a managing director of Terrapin Partners, LLC and a portfolio manager at Terrapin Asset Management, LLC.

We keep in frequent touch and talk often. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind answering a few of my questions, especially with November 4th on the horizon, I thought I would try to get his insight as to his thoughts and perspectives about the vote.

Guy BarudinWhen was the most recent time you exercised you’re right to vote?
Personally, I voted in the last presidential election in 2012 and in a couple of local NJ elections since then. I didn’t vote in the 2014 primaries but expect to vote this November.

When you cast a vote, what does it feel like to you?
When I walk into a voting booth physically or mark an absentee ballot, I remember my parents and all the people I know who served in the armed forces. I think of all the challenges people have around the world simply trying to vote in countries wracked by war. I’m proud to be able to vote. I get a little emotional.

When you were registered to vote (for the first time) do you remember what it felt like?
Actually, I don’t remember – it was a long time ago – but it wasn’t long after the Vietnam War ended for the US and I had to fill out some draft papers at the same time. It was a little scary, but also felt like the first “grown up” thing I’d done.

Are you more likely to vote in certain kinds of elections (local, statewide, national, referendums)?
I’m definitely more likely to vote in a local election where there is an issue I find important, and for congress and senate elections. If I think that a competent person is running and they aren’t being challenged by a dummy, I’m less likely to vote.

Do you think it’s important for people to vote? Explain why.
The very nature of our towns, our counties, our states, and our country, relies on people being knowledgeable about facts and giving voice to their opinions in ways that effect leadership. This means taking time to go to meetings, to stay informed about current events. It means maybe even to serve on committees or hold office on everything ranging from local school and town groups all the way up to groups involved in national or international issues. It’s about taking an active role in our lives, not just sitting back and going along for the ride. Our votes are one way we participate in our public lives. In the US, we have the right to vote because of great things previous generations did. We should vote to have a voice in our own lives and to honor our history and the sacrifices made by Americans who came before us.

Do you see your vote impacting your community?
Yes – absolutely. School board elections and town council elections have direct effect on the quality of our streets and towns. State and county elections lead to the management of things as tangible as road improvement and park services, school curriculum, local taxes. To not vote is to put control of our lives into the hands of other people with whom we may or may not agree.

When voting season comes around, do you ask friends and family if they’re going to vote as well, or do you keep it to yourself?
I’m a nag – I remind people they should vote. I remind them they can request absentee or advance ballots if they aren’t sure they can get to the polls physically. Probably my friends and family think I’m annoying.

Vote!

Why vote?

The following is written by Paul Barudin, LWVNJ Intern

Why do I vote? It’s a funny thing actually. Considering that up until rather recently in my life I was very jaded about the idea of voting. Like most people I’m sure that the answer is multifaceted, but I’ll try to bring it down to its base parts.

I voted in the presidential election of 2012. I was a sophomore in college at the time, and had to send in my vote via absentee ballet. At the time, it was something of a chore, a nuisance, mostly because I was worried about more immediate issues like tests and socializing. Voting had never been a real part of my life up until then. Even when I had turned 18, I didn’t educate myself on when I could vote, who the candidates were, or even when the next election was.

And I don’t think that I really understood the importance or impact of my vote until a few days later, when I was invited to a SU Republican and Democrat party to watch as the votes were tallied and the states were won.

As an unaffiliated voter, I wasn’t prepared for the partisanship of the party. Elephants and Donkey shaped cookies, banners of the respective candidates on the walls, my peers wearing t-shirts with candidate slogans emblazoned on their chests. It was all a little overwhelming to say the least. I’d never seen this many people get so riled up about something so far away, and yet so familiar. The buzz of energy in the air is thick, and with each state won, respective students from each side cheered and sighed. And looking at them made me realize that my opinion (that people, youth especially) were all tired/jaded by politics was wrong. I got to see a different part of my generation. And it was an eye opening experience.

I think the reason I vote, the main reason, is as a reminder to myself to have compassion. Yes, I vote for those who will move towards actions I care for, but it’s more than that. Voting is important, a civic duty. It is a physical way to show I care about things, my state, my country, and the world. Voting is a way I can show myself that I don’t just think a big game. That I commit to those thoughts, and that I follow through.

Voting: A Family Affair

The following blog post is written by Jasmine Boddie, LWVNJ intern.

Boddie FamilyIt was Election Day of 2012 at 6:00 am in the Boddie household. I was peacefully asleep when the sound of a knock on my door echoed throughout my room. All I heard next was my mother’s voice stating, “It’s time to go vote.” I sprang out of bed as fast as possible and flew downstairs ready to go. Already waiting was my father and older sister Brittany. Of course the youngest of the bunch, Cortnee was the last one ready. Finally, we were ready to go to the polls. The five of us plus our dog Fancie walked down the street toward the fire station, our polling place. We each placed our votes. However, Cortnee could not because she wasn’t of age yet. This was the first time I was able to vote since I had turned 18. Now in the year 2014 we are all eligible to vote.

My family and I were extremely excited about this election. So, my mother had an idea that we should all go to NYC to watch the voting results. We all bundled up tight and went to MSNBC studios to watch. We got to take pictures wearing all types of gear in red, white and blue. After, the election was decided the streets of NYC exploded with excitement. There were huge screens everywhere with the President’s picture on it. At around this time we were ready to head back home because we were frost bitten by then.

Voting in my family has always been a family affair. From a very young age my sisters and I were exposed to the world of politics. The news and political debates were constantly on television in our house. Many people in my community do not vote at all. They feel as though one vote won’t change anything or make a difference. However, if everyone has that mentality, that one vote that wasn’t cast turns into hundreds of votes.

I vote not only for myself but for the African American community as well. We weren’t always given the right to vote in our history. I tip my hat to those individuals that have come before me and fought for the privilege that many take for granted. I vote for the women that have passed on that were never given the opportunity to express their political views. I will make sure to keep my families voting traditions alive when I pass them on to my children. This way we will have instilled in generation after generation the importance of voting.

Why I Vote

The following is written by Liz Huang, LWVNJ intern.

Liz HuangGrowing up, I remember learning about the extensive history of voting in the United States in my classes, and watching the adults around me vote in the general and primary elections. However, one of my most vivid voting memories was the first time I actively contributed to the voting process. At the time, I was only a sophomore in high school.

In 2008, through a United States history class I was taking, my classmates and I became student volunteers for the local League of Women Voters of New Jersey in our town. I was almost 16 years old, and I went to senior classrooms with my peers to help senior high school students complete their Voter Registration forms. Our goal was to register as many seniors at our high school to vote for the 2008 Presidential Election that was just around the corner. It was a great experience being able to engage and contribute to the overall voting process, especially during a Presidential Election year.

When I turned 18 years old in the end of 2010, I had just missed Election Day by a few weeks. It was disappointing, but in the grand scheme of things, it was eye opening to realize that I would be able to cast my vote in all future elections beginning in 2011.

I vote because I want to assert what I believe in and make a difference. Voting allows me to express my personal opinion on issues that affect everyone: education, health services, environmental issues, etc.

I highly encourage every individual to exercise their right to vote! And as often as they can. There are plenty of nonpartisan resources available to engage and empower voters to make informed decisions. If you cannot vote in person on an Election Day, there is always the option to vote via a “Vote by Mail Application.” Every opinion- younger and older generations alike- matters. Go out there and let your voice be heard. Make a difference.