I. Extensive ReadingThis is an extract from a speech given by Severn Suzuki, a 13-year-old girl from Canada, on June 11, 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki, speaking for ECO, the Environmental Children’s Organisation. We are a group of four 12 and 13-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference—Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg, and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come 6000 miles to tell you adults that you must change your ways.
I am here to speak for all future generations to come. I am here to speak on behalf of all the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go.
I am afraid to go out in the sun now, because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air, because I don’t know what chemicals are in it. I used to go fishing in Vancouver, my home town, with my Dad, until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day – vanishing every day.
In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles, and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see. Did you have to worry about these things when you were my age?
Here you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organisers, reporters or politicians. But really, you are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. And all of you are someone’s child. I am only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil – borders and governments will never change that. I am only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal. In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I’m not afraid to tell the world how I feel.
I’m only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this Earth would be.
At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share – not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?
Do not forget why you are attending these conferences, you are doing this for your own children. You are deciding what kind of a world we will grow up in.
Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying, “Everything is going to be alright. It’s not the end of the world. We are doing the best we can.” But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities?
My dad always says, “You are what you do, not what you say.” Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown-ups say you love us. I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words. Thank you for listening.
I. Answer the following questions:
1. What kind of life does Suzuki want for herself and for all the children of the world?
2. What advice does Suzuki give to the adults?
3. “I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.” Why does the speaker say so?
4. My dad always says, “You are what you do, not what you say.”
a. Who said these words?
b. Who did the speaker say these words to? What do they mean?
5. What is Suzuki’s speech about?
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