TedX: Students Share Their Stories

Words: Mariam Abd El-Shafy

On Thursday, February 27, Centennial High School’s Young Democrats held a TedX Talk from 6:00pm until 9:00pm. There were eight speakers, Emily Kim, Farah Helal, Natalie Knight-Griffin, Calvin Lee, Brendan Hlibok, Hibah Khan, Adam Goldstein, Caio Goolsby, and two workshop hosts Peter Wilschke and David Aylaian. Each speaker had around 10 minutes to present their topic and share their story. During the 30-minute intermission, the audience enjoyed the provided food and engaged in the workshops.     

The club has been applying to Tedx for three years with hopes of being accepted. This year, the current presidents, seniors Lexi Fang and Sonia Saini, were in charge of planning the event.

The theme “The Essence of a Changing World” allowed students to talk about the problems they have faced and have overcome in today’s world. The goal of the event was to give selected students the opportunity to share their stories with peers who may be dealing with similar struggles.

Saini says, “a lot of the things they’re talking about are things that people need to hear but are kind of unspoken.”

  In senior Calvin Lee’s TedX Talk, he explained the hardship of wanting to pursue art in a society that does not accept it as an actual career. “I’m speaking on studying the visual arts, and how someone who grew up in this area- a strict academic environment- [goes] from there to…full-on [pursuing their dreams].”

Junior Brendan Hlibok was grateful for the opportunity to speak about growing up with two deaf parents, and gave thanks for the opportunity TedX has given him. “I’m glad that I’m able to share [my story] with everyone, because if it were just me trying to get my story out person by person it would not be as effective and impactful.”

Senior Emily Kim talked about what she called the “10-second skip.” She shared her personal experience as a young female in the workplace, and how she wished she could have applied the 10-second skip. “[The 10-second skip] enables us to skip what we feel uncomfortable viewing, but in real life we don’t have a 10-second skip. It’s about how, in the digital age, we have to face what we’re uncomfortable with,” Kim shared.

A member of the audience, Senior Reshma Jasmin, shared the impact of the talks after the show. “Being told the choices I would like to make aren’t dumb, which is not what I normally hear, is reasurring and it makes me feel comforted going into what I like.” 

Sophomore Vanisha Maram explained the variety of the TedX talks. “Some tugged on my heart strings, some made me worry…all of them were so well thought out.” 

After the show, the sponsor of the club and event, teacher Corry O’Brien, reflected on the impact of the event. “I don’t see the actual [speeches], I see the people afterwards and the smiles were huge, you could see the heart in their faces…and that’s beautiful, that connection, there’s nothing more meaningful than that.” 

After the event, the team gathered to share heartwarming words. “Watching them on stage literally brought tears to my eyes,” said Fang, “It takes strength to be that vulnerable in front of people you don’t really know and they rose to the challenge…they were amazing.”

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To view the TedX Talks on youtube, click here!

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