If you had about 10 minutes to stand up in front of a rapt audience, what would you share about your passion, purpose and perspective?
From saving sharks to being “crazy about peace,” experts from diverse industries and IB high school students came together for [email protected] on Nov. 18 to answer that question and help spark ideas and inspiration. Approximately 330 people participated in the ideas conference at The York School, and more than 8,000 tuned in on the livestream, including 5,600 from the States, over a 1,000 in Brazil and over 500 each in Germany, Mexico, Italy, the UK, India and Spain.
“Changing the world is the most fun, awesome process possible,” says Rob Stewart – the biologist, award-winning wildlife photographer and Sharkwater film-maker from Toronto – during his talk at [email protected] “In a world where you pick your future, pick that.”
“My passion was something useful—the computer,” says Mike Jutan, a 3D computer animation software engineer from London, Ont., who landed a job at Industrial Light & Magic (or ILM, George Lucas’ visual effects studio) a few months before he graduated when the recruiter remembered his enthusiasm and made a special note to email him. “Strive to be happy. It’s so easy to be jaded. If you can be enthusiastic, you will stand out.”
“Allow passion to drive you, not money,” says Julie Hartley, a writer, playwright and founding director of Centauri Summer Arts Camp, who was initially told that she would fail since artists can’t go into business.
“We need to do what we can, we need to use whatever talent, whatever passion we have, in order to better change our society, and then on a larger scale, humanity,” says spoken word poet Amal Ahmed Albaz, 17, the winner of the [email protected] student competition. “And yes, you can call me crazy for wanting to change the world through just a simple, passionate idea of mine, but I’d like to remind you that ‘the people, who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.’” (Click here to read Albaz’s poem and Q&A.)
‘One of the most amazing days of my life’
A committee of three teachers chose Albaz out of 11 IB students from private and public schools in Canada and from as faraway as the British International School in Shanghai. The International Baccalaureate or IB program is an advanced curriculum taught in more than 3,000 schools around the world. Because of the limited interaction between IB schools, York School alumni and teachers as well as volunteers with a passion for TED and education first had the idea in December 2009 to host their own TEDx event.
“I was delighted that, once again, senior IB students and adults can come together and mutually benefit from a day of inspiring and fascinating speakers, and a chance to interact with one another about the incredible flow of ideas,” says David Hamilton, principal at The York School’s Upper School in Toronto. “As one student stated, it was ‘one of the most amazing days of my life.’”
During the breaks, the audience was encouraged to meet the speakers. Kimchi Ho, a senior architectural designer in her 20s from Kitchener, Ont. who attended the event, considers her conversation with Hartley a highlight. “It was inspiring to see a young woman take a proactive lens to make her own opportunities,” says Ho, who wrote down “social media” as her passion on her name tag. “I have visions to be an entrepreneur (in digital marketing and community engagement) and this conversation spoke to this courageous leap in many ways. The pairing of students to diverse adults coming from various industries makes for a great curated day.
“The event was exceptionally inspiring. I am in awe of the sense of community engagement that can happen when people from diverse backgrounds and expertise come together to share ideas. There is nothing like it.”
Watch a video of one of the speakers, Truth Is…, performing her slam poetry at [email protected] (Check back on Dialogue Online for a Q&A with Truth Is… on her experience with bullies and how schools can promote diversity.)
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What do you think about the TEDx events? What is your passion, purpose and perspective? What is your advice for youth in achieving that goal? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.