Dr. Wade Davis presented The Lost Amazon at a school meeting, the first of a two-part Academy Event that included meeting with students during class periods. He offered his lecture “Light at the Edge of the World” to the entire Deerfield community in the evening of April 6, 2009.
Like his impressive lifelong journeys to all seven continents of the world and his particularly long stays in the Amazon and the Andes, Dr. Davis’ presentation was “awe-inspiring and an opening of different perspectives,” according to Yujin Nam ’11.
Dean of Studies Peter Warsaw, who arranged the Academy Event, described Dr. Davis as “a man who has cultivated the talents he needed and found a way to use them as skills, eventually creating an interesting journey for himself.”
Dr. Davis began his speech with the statement, “We are all brothers and sisters, literally,” due to the interconnected genes of the entire human race. Dr. Davis told about “the different ways of being” and the myriad cultures that exist in the world.
From this idea about the world’s diversity stemmed Dr. Davis’ main argument regarding the significance of culture: “Human beings are the cause of cultural destruction, which means humans can also be the facilitators of cultural survival. In a single generation, a cultural tribe has collapsed. The foundation of other ways of life is melting.”
In a much broader sense, Dr. Davis attempted to relate to the audience the bountiful capabilities of men. “In the end, it comes down to this: What does it mean to be human and be alive? You have to be true to your inner heart and change what you want to do.”
According to Mr. Warsaw, the entire planning process for the academy event took almost one year, through much communication between Mr. Warsaw and Dr. Davis. Mr. Warsaw, explaining his choice, said, “Dr. Davis’ concern for not only the environment, but also for culture was very appealing. He is one that can help answer some of the most essential, yet most cryptic questions of life: Who are we, exactly? Who am I in the process of becoming? I thought for the Deerfield student body that it’d be helpful to have models and be awakened by possible paths that one might take in the near future.”
Dr. Davis considers himself as “more of an anthropologist.” Although he has a degree in ethnobotany from Harvard University, he is most interested in human social relationships and their history and culture than with the “botany” component of his degree.
Having written for the National Geographic, published twelve books, produced ten films, lived within fifteen indigenous cultures, and made six thousand botanical collections, it is no surprise that he is often referred to as the “Indiana Jones of the 21st century.” Dr. Davis is currently working on a four-hour series of films for the National Geographic and will be shot in regions all over the world, from Mongolia to Colombia.