reflecting on #TEDxYouth@Dwight

It was short on planning and time to execute, but TEDxYouthDay@Dwight went off about as well as could be expected. It was a short day of five talks, but the five talks were so full of passion and inspiration that I’d put them up against any of the TEDx Talks that I’ve seen in the last couple of years. I’m incredibly grateful to our speakers for making up for the “looseness” of the day with their powerful messages.

Would I do it differently next time? Absolutely — and I plan on renewing the expired TEDxDwight license that I never got the chance to take advantage of a growing passion around TED Talks at my school. But the day was also a lesson in what not to do.

I should have known from time spent organizing TEDxNYED that it takes a team of people and a lot of time. When I pitched the idea to faculty about TEDxYouthDay during our orientation, there was definitely some interest but the idea kind of died on the vine — as most schools years do, this one definitely got away from me. I would have let the opportunity pass if it hadn’t been for meeting a parent at last month’s parent-teacher conferences that kickstarted the event and secured our two outside speakers.

Rachel Chapple spoke about her work with Real Stories Gallery, a not-for-profit online visual arts HIV prevention campaign. An AV situation led to us “restarting” her talk, but did nothing to take away from her powerful message. 

Dwight eleventh grader Sukrit Puri gave a very impassioned talk on world governance, and very eloquently and entertainingly explained why democracy might not be the best path. 

Chris Rainier encouraged the crowd to never lose a sense of adventure with his photos from travels across the world and his absolutely thrilling and world-record-setting skydive over the Himalayas.

Marc Ian Barasch told us about the Green World Campaign and how it all starts with one seed — and also how it’s not just about planting trees anymore.

Twelfth grader Daniel Maren batted clean-up (metaphorically — he was the fifth speaker) and left everyone with the sense that it really is possible to be the change when he brought together ballroom dancing, education, and a plan to save orphans around the world.

It was an amazing day and, though I’ll always wish that some organizational and audio-visual things went smoother than they did, it was a very successful, if modest, affair. I’m so thankful to everyone that pitched in on very short notice and made sure that things went as smoothly as possible — from the AV and network setup to Livestreaming to making sure that we had juice for the kids who came. It wouldn’t have been possible without their help. (And next year, I know better than to think I can host an event and also provide technical assistance…)

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