TEDx [email protected] School: Taking On the World

How do you define taking on the world?

This was the question posed to the audience by the impressive range of 25 talented speakers at the TedX [email protected] event on November 14th, 2012.

Adil Dhalla Tedx

Adil Dhalla is innovating how we learn about the world through "My City Lives", a local video platform.

Three hundred and fifty attendees from areas in Florida, Nova Scotia, India and all across Ontario and Canada were invited to consider how they wanted to take on the world as they listened to thought leaders and students from all walks of life describe their ideas, inspirations, and dreams.

Curator of TED, Chris Anderson, introduced the conference via video with his original concept of TED as an opportunity to bring together people from the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) worlds to share “ideas worth spreading”. This concept has since sparked independent TED events (denoted with an ‘x’)  all over the world, which are hosted in the spirit of communicating unique and thought-provoking beliefs, practices, and overall aspirations.

At The York School, organizers first had the idea in 2009 to host their own TEDx event and it has since grown to feature 9 IB Dipolma students at this year’s talk, including the The York School’s own Irie Gourde and Elisabeta Radulovici.  Mr. Gourde discussed the lack of predictability in our lives and that no matter how good or how skilled we are we can never fully plan, but that when we are pushed out of our comfort zone, ideas that have been dormant come to life. Alternatively, Ms. Radulovici challenged the audience to think more closely about the importance of sustainable development and getting involved in initiatives to ensure a healthier future.

Other engaging student speakers, such as Sabrina Alsaffar from Ashbury College, gave moving and inspirational spoken-word performances along with powerful statements that made it difficult to believe some of these students were only 16 or 17 years old. “As we age, knowledge becomes an enemy to realization and imagination,” stated Ms. Alsaffar, “But when there’s room for improvement, there’s room for positive change.”

Every speaker had an impressive experience or single idea to draw from that had the audience captivated, laughing and applauding throughout. Additional highlights from some of the presenters included:

  • Dr. David Jaffray, Head of Radiation Physics at Princess Margaret Hospital, suggested that complexity is not a barrier to innovation and that humans have the ability to manipulate complexity, to make it seem less complex. “Does keeping it simple require us to innovate?”
  • The York School alumni Adil Dhalla, who co-founded My City Lives, asked the audience, “Where do we start to make change? How are you positioned to succeed to build homes in Africa if you haven’t started where you live?” Furthermore, he wondered how we can provide for and preserve a sense of community, challenging the audience to start creating a safe neighborhood and an element of trust by making eye contact with someone and simply acknowledging they exist.
  • Hana Chaudhury, from I.E. Weldson Secondary School, spoke on the value of bravery, of being a risk taker as an active and daily choice that we make, and questioned how we can take on the world without bravery. “Before you can take on the world, you have to take on yourself,” she said. “Say hello to one person and see where it takes you.”
  • Illona Doughtery, co-founder of Apathy is Boring and a life long social entrepreneur, discussed the importance of getting involved in the community and voting to get individual voices and issues heard. “Nothing will change if we don’t engage in the system,” she added, suggesting writing a letter to an elected official as one way to get the issues young people care about noticed and addressed.
  • Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges of Canada, invited the audience to consider what the best recipe might be for creating a poor country. Among his suggestions were poor governance and macroeconomic policies, high death rates for women and children, the impediment of children’s cognitive development, untreated mental illnesses, and making sure no innovative ideas are translated into products and services. “200 million kids will never meet their full potential,” he noted. So what is the best recipe for helping poor countries overcome issues such as poverty? “Innovation. Innovation can take many forms and be utilized, and we must support and encourage innovation.”
  • Corey Vidal, Canadian digital media pioneer and founder of ApprenticeA Productions, one of the largest YouTube networks and production companies in Canada, shared his incredible story about how YouTube literally saved his life and how he struggled for many years to turn his dream into reality. His perseverance and perspective offered students a firsthand example of what it means to pursue a passion and turn it into a successful career.
  • Ewalina Jeyanesan, from Notre Dame Secondary School, elaborated on the strength of being an individual, posing the question, ‘How do you make your mark?’ With creativity and uniqueness, she recommended, adding that sense of self is not something that can be taken away. “Being authentic is what leaves a lasting remark,” she stated in her speech.

Additional TED talks from around the world were showcased through video, such as Susan Cain who spoke about the power of introverts and the need to find a balance between introverts and extroverts, that solitude is an important ingredient in creativity to encourage the freedom to let people be themselves and develop ideas. Bunker Roy, founder of the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India which aims to educate and empower its rural people, discussed the innovative practices and advancements through Barefoot College that have successfully elevated communities throughout India, advising, “You don’t have to look for solutions outside, look within.”

Powerful words to summarize a phenomenal day of learning and sharing, starting with the individual and discovering new ways to connect with the worldwide community. And so the question remains: what ideas, beliefs, aspirations and actions inspire you to take on the world?

Learn more about [email protected] at their official site: http://tedxibyork.com/.


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What ideas, beliefs, goals and actions inspire you? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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About Erin McLaughlin

Erin is the communications specialist for Our Kids Media and Comfort Life. Before joining the fun folks at Our Kids, she was a freelance writer, social media coordinator and editor. She has been fortunate to build on a lifelong dream of exploring by visiting parts of the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and China, and hopes to continue exploring the world always learning, evolving, and writing about it. She invites you check out the Our Kids community for key resources and great conversations!

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