TEDx features local speakers

A group of Mount Allison University student volunteers held the university’s second annual TEDx event last weekend.

The event was themed ‘Thinking Outside the Box’, and featured five speakers from within the Mt. A community as well as from surrounding areas, including Moncton and Halifax. Among the speakers was Mt. A alumnus and entrepreneur Rivers Corbett, physics professor Dr. Catherine Lovekin, and fourth-year student and Rhodes Scholar Kylie de Chastelain. The event also featured a performance from In- Flight Safety, a Halifax-based group that formed at Mt. A.

Ron Byrne, Mt. A’s vice-president international and student affairs, moderated the event.

With five speakers, the event featured two fewer speakers than the 2013 event, but the event managed to attract a larger audience: Over eighty tickets were sold of the hundred available, while roughly sixty tickets were sold last year.

Jeehan Jawed, vice-president of Mt. A’s TEDx committee and speaker co-ordinator founded the group with Phil LeBeouf as a Leadership Mount Allison project. They developed a committee to work on getting a license with TED, organizing logistics and preparing speakers, and received close cooperation from the alumni office.

“It was a lot of trial and error,” said Jawed.

Jawed, a second-year Mt. A student, said she was interested in bringing a TED event to Sackville because “it is [a] completely different experience being able to watch these speakers and physically be there listening to their words.” All TEDx talks are made publicly available online. Jawed added that “getting to go up to [the speakers] afterwards to ask them questions” enhances the experience.

Justin Ryan of the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton Area spoke on the importance of unconventional thinking, tying it into his experiences of helping immigrants settle in the area.

“Convention is how we operate and how we get through most of the time; it’s just not how we should get through all the time,” he said.

Kylie de Chastelain gave the first address, her second TED talk. This time, de Chastelain shared her experience from a recent summer course taken through Trent University that took her to the Northwest Territories. Like Ryan, de Chastelain used the theme of thinking outside the box to positively reflect on the cross-cultural experience of studying in Trent. “The cultures are just so different; it’s so important to have the chance to talk to people here about it.”

“We are just hoping to get bigger and better every year and have nationally recognized speakers come in,” Jawed told The Argosy. She said that attendance was up from the previous year, and that the group has been approached by students who would like to join the organizing committee. Though the speakers are not supposed to be paid under TED guidelines, Jawed noted besides hopes for expansion that the group is hoping for more funding in the future to pay technicians and other helpers who have been providing free services.

TED began as a conference nearly thirty years ago. TEDx events are independently organized by local committees but must adhere to some guidelines provided by TED.

Second-year student Franziska Glen attended Saturday’s event. “I had pretty high expectations this year, some of the speakers I think I could relate to their topics more than others.”

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