I don’t remember the first TED Talk I ever watched, mostly because I was fascinated with my dad’s fascination during my first ever TED Talk. Instead of looking at the screen, I would notice how his eyes would go wide at every interesting point made, every audience reaction. Each time the presenter mentioned something profound, he would instantly perk up and say, “Did you hear that?” I usually responded with a very convincing “yes,” but he would rewind the video anyway, this time pointing at the person’s face in rhythm with his words to make sure I understood. And under the façade of paying intense attention, I would chuckle under my breath at how passionate he was about the science rolling off the speaker’s tongue.

As I floated through middle school and entered high school, TED Talks began being used more and more as a teaching supplement. From Hugh Herr’s experience with bionic legs, to Amy Cuddy’s perspective on the effects of body language on confidence, and even further still to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce,” I was exposed to a variety of tastes based on the nature of the class as well as my teacher’s interests.

My all-time favorite talk in the entire world is “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator,” presented by popular long-form blogger Tim Urban. I find myself going back to this one time and time again, not just for the humor and the energy of the speaker, but to re-learn the life lessons he lays out for his audience. His message and his values resonate with me for different reasons every time I return to his video, and he really embodies the vision and purpose of TED.

All this time, when in need of a nice fix of current events or some sound advice from an unsung genius, I would go to ted.com. But TED came straight to UD.

The University of Delaware hosted its second annual TEDx conference. This year’s theme was “Adventure,” and the featured speakers included a healthy mix of UD faculty as well as students. It was so enthralling, and frankly quite impressive, to be able to hear how each person interpreted and expressed their views on the theme, drawing from his or her own personal experiences. And the fact that I knew some of the presenters and was able to connect with their ideas meant the world to me.

There were a few viewing parties set up at various spots on campus, including Trabant and Louis Redding Hall. I was very fortunate to have been a part of this movement as a discussion leader in the Trabant Lounge. There were lots of great refreshments and opportunities to network, and at the end of the screening, I helped lead a group discussion that was reflective of the thoughts and questions that those who came to watch had about anything they heard.

My two favorite talks were by Dr. Steve Mortenson, one of my Communication professors, and by Nana Ohemaa Asante, an upperclassmen Honors student (whose work has appeared on this blog before!). Dr. Mortenson addressed one of our greatest personality flaws as humans, which is the need for us to be the heroes within our own stories, our own adventures. And when we cannot fulfill that need for ourselves, we choose someone in our lives to be the hero for us, which can lead to projections of our personal shadows onto others.

Nana presented an extremely emotional dialogue—an incredible combination of poetry and prose that emphasized how she wonders about the personal adventures of the people she passes by every day without a second glance. Equally thrilling and moving in her delivery, she repeated the clause that everybody has a special story “ready to be read, waiting to be read.”

I had the chance to meet both of these amazing people at the reception after the conference, and being able to speak with them one-on-one about their motivations and what prompted them to share a part of themselves with the world was so impactful.

It is indescribably inspiring for me to see students my age and the professors I look up to stand up proudly and share their stories on a stage that I grew up watching. It reinforced my dream to walk across that circle of red carpet with a mic hanging from my chin and a 15-minute timer at my feet.

One day soon, I hope to make it happen. Until then, I would love to continue my involvement with TEDxUniversityofDelaware in any way that I can, and I look forward to the empowerment that comes with it.

 

P.S. All the TED Talks that I referenced in this post are linked below. Please do watch them at your leisure, especially Mr. Urban’s—you will not regret it!

Tim Urban’s “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator”
Malcolm Gladwell’s “Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce”
Amy Cuddy’s “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are”
Hugh Herr’s “The New Bionics That Let Us Run, Climb, and Dance”

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