On April 26th, 2014, the popular web series TEDx came to American University for the first time. Throughout the four sessions that were held in the Abramson Family Founders Room in the School of International Service, faculty, staff, and students shared their ideas on topics ranging from the rise of the makers to music and its power to transform conflict.
The event kicked off with Andrew Lih, an associate professor of journalism at AU, who discussed how Wikipedia, who “helped you get through term papers and high school,” is helping to bridge the knowledge gap. His talk, right from the get-go, kept the audience very engaged and set the bar very high for the following speakers.
Another noteworthy speaker, who opened up the second session of the day, was professor Scott Talan, professor of Public Communication at American University, who talked about online presence and marketability. The point that I took away from his discussion was that you need to make yourself marketable and desirable online because jobs will often find you rather than the other way around.
After lunch the discussion sessions picked up again. The highlight was Canadian exchange student Graham May, who gave a very passionate lecture about how the philanthropic efforts of celebrities in an attempt to better the world are actually hurting indigenous peoples’ way of life.
The live speakers were offset with videos by other TED speakers who discussed topics ranging from the jobs of the future and how machines will impact them and how the Internet can facilitate teaching and learning peace and even how to start a movement.
As part of the technical crew tasked with setting up, running, and breaking down the show, my TEDx experience began the night before with loading in all the equipment needed to make the show a reality. Under the direction of Ryan Anderson, we managed to get the space ready with time to spare.
The event, as a whole, went off with only a few minor technological hiccups. The speakers had unbelievable amounts of insight into their topics and supplemented them with fascinating personal accounts and engaging anecdotes. All in all, should AU host another TEDx event, I know I will be active in promoting on (and off) campus and hope to be part of the crew again. Everyone should come to a TEDx event at least once in their lifetime, and I am glad that this particular one was my first.