Dr. Ghassan Ramadan Jaradi

My experience with a very generous man, Luc Hofmann

* Ghassan Ramadan Jaradi
In September 1973, I was registered to prepare a PhD of ornithology in Saint Jerome University (Aix-Marseille III University) at the Laboratory of Ecology under the supervision of Professor Jean Giudicelli and under the direction of the ornithologist Jacques Blondel, Maitre de Research at CNRS Montpellier at that time. As far as I remember, the university was temporary closed due to a strike. Jean Giudicelli and Jacques Blondel took the initiative and asked me to benefit from my wasted time by the strike to go and see Dr. Luc Hoffmann at the Tour du Valat in order to get his permission to have access to his library and Centre of Research in Camargue for my training {stage) on bird observation, identification and studies. Many questions came to my mind: who is Luc Hoffmann? why they didn’t talk to him on my behalf? why I should go to face a possible rejection to my request by myself? Will a man like Luc Hoffmann be willing to receive a man like me without any title? However, I had no other alternative than to go and see Dr. Hoffmann. I phoned him on a number they gave it me for an appointment. The first surprise was that he replied to my call in person. I asked him for an appointment in my capacity as a candidate doctoral student in ornithology, and the second surprise was that he gave me an appointment in the same day provided I arrive before 4.00 PM, as he will leave the station to travel to Switzerland with his private plane. Being edgy, I ran to the train station of Marseille but unfortunately I missed the train with destination to Arles (nearest station to Camargue), when the time separating me from the appointment was 3 hours.

Luc Hoffmann at our Rare Bird Club trip in Hokkaido (Japan) hosted by BirdLife's honorary president HIH Princess Takamado in 2007
Luc Hoffmann at our Rare Bird Club trip in Hokkaido (Japan) hosted by BirdLife’s honorary president HIH Princess Takamado in 2007

I then decided to hire a “Mobilette motorcycle” with a maximum speed of about 60 km/h to traverse about 120 km to Camargue through Arles. Using the national routes, I arrived on time and Dr. Hoffman was outside his office surrounded by his staff and friends telling him “Au Revoir” and wishing him a good and safe trip. I rushed to him and introduced myself with an excuse for my arrival at the last minute. He immediately told me in front of his staff, “You are most welcome in our biological station. Mr. Jaradi, please be free to come here at any time to conduct your studies and you will have also support from ornithologists of the center. He mentioned to me Dr. Paul Isenmann, an expert in marine birds who accompanied me in the following days to explore the Camargue; and he pointed his finger at a small house and told me that this will be my accommodation during my stay for studies, and returned with me to his library to tell me that all my references are here and I can have access to them at any time, and then he left with a welcoming smile.

The Director General of the MAVA Foundation Mrs. Lynda Mansson , planting a Cedar Tree for honoring Dr. Luc Hoffmann, at West Bekaa Country Club in Hima Kherbet Kanafar
The Director General of the MAVA Foundation Mrs. Lynda Mansson , planting a cedar tree for honoring Dr. Luc Hoffmann, at West Bekaa Country Club in Hima Kherbet Kanafar, October 5, 2016

I was really shocked by the generosity of this man. He made the fear disappearing from my heart, reduced the adrenaline in my blood and ensured to me the best atmosphere for research. His generosity derives from his love to the wildlife at a time in which the term of biodiversity was not commonly recognized. Yes I was surprised because I found in him the handedness and magnanimity of a man who feels happy in helping people to help wildlife and protect ecosystems.
I owe you too much Luc for paving the way of my first steps in ornithology. Words can’t express how saddened I am to hear that you were called away. Please be sure you are in my thoughts and prayers, especially that I never forgot your kind gesture since 43 years till today.

* Professor Dr. in Ornithology

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