good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen:
today i would like to begin with a story. there was once a physical therapist who traveled all the way from america to africa to do a census about mountain gorillas. these gorillas are a main attraction to tourists from all over the world; this put them severely under threat of poaching and being put into the zoo. she went there out of curiosity, but what she saw strengthened her determination to devote her whole life to fighting for those beautiful creatures. she witnessed a scene, a scene taking us to a place we never imaged we've ever been, where in the very depth of the african rainforest, surrounded by trees, flowers and butterflies, the mother gorillas cuddled their babies.
yes, that's a memorable scene in one of my favorite movies, called gorillas in the mist, based on a true story of mrs. diana fossey, who spent most of her lifetime in rwanda to protect the ecoenvironment there until the very end of her life.
to me, the movie not only presents an unforgettable scene but also acts as a timeless reminder that we should not develop the tourist industry at the cost of our eco-environment.
today, we live in a world of prosperity but still threatened by so many new problems. on the one hand, tourism, as one of the most promising industries in the 21st century, provides people with the great opportunity to see everything there is to see and to go any place there is to go. it has become a lifestyle for some people, and has turned out to be the driving force in gdp growth. it has the magic to turn a backward town into a wonderland of prosperity. but on the other hand, many problems can occur - natural scenes aren't natural anymore. deforestation to heat lodges are devastating nepal. oil spills from tourist boats are polluting antarctica. tribal people are forsaking their native music and dress to listen to u2 on walkman and wear nike and reeboks.
all these appalling facts have brought us to the realization that we can no longer stand by and do nothing, because the very thought of it has been eroding our resources. encouragingly, the explosive growth of global travel has put tourism again in the spotlight, which is why the united nations has made XX the year of ecotourism, for the first time to bring to the world's attention the benefits of tourism, but also its capacity to destroy our ecoenvironment.
now every year, many local ecoenvironmental protection organizations are receiving donations - big notes, small notes or even coins - from housewives, plumbers, ambulance drivers, salesmen, teachers, children and invalids. some of them cannot afford to send the money but they do. these are the ones who drive the cabs, who nurse in hospitals, who are suffering from ecological damage in their neighborhood. why? because they care. because they still want their mother nature back. because they know it still belongs to them.
this kind of feeling that i have, ladies and gentlemen, is when it feels like it, smells like it, and looks like it , it's all coming from a scene to be remembered, a scene to recall and to cherish.
the other night, as i saw the moon linger over the land and before it was sent into the invisible, my mind was filled with songs. i found myself humming softly, not to the music, but to something else, someplace else, a place remembered, a place untouched, a field of grass where no one seemed to have been except the deer.
and all those unforgettable scenes strengthened the feeling that it's time for us to do something, for our own and our coming generation.
once again, i have come to think of mrs. diana fossey because it is with her spirit, passion, courage and strong sense of our ecoenvironment that we are taking our next step into the world.
and no matter who we are, what we do and where we go, in our minds, there's always a scene to remember, a scene worth our effort to protect it and fight for it.
thank you very much.
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