An article written by Kinari Adiarni
Presenting a TED Talk is an unspoken life achievement that many aspire to do. How great would it be to be able to meet someone for the first time and casually say “Oh by the way, I’ve presented a TED Talk before.” In my case, I never would have thought of doing such a thing, let alone be given the opportunity until this year. March 8 of 2016, Hwa Chong International School hosted their 3rd TEDx@Youth Event and ISS was one of the collaborators in hosting it. What started with an email of opportunity had let me to the thought, what would it be like to give a TED Talk?
TED is a nonprofit devoted in giving people a chance to share their inspiring stories through powerful talks. They cover various topics from the sciences to business and even on our daily lifestyles. TEDx however, are independently run events that happen throughout the world, giving ordinary people with extraordinary ideas a platform to speak on. I’ve watched nearly a hundred different TED Talks and none of them have failed to give me a new perspective about the world or even in my own daily life. Seeing as how extraordinary TED’s reputation is, I couldn’t help but be curious about the process behind the camera, thats what pushed me to volunteer as a speaker. Not only was it a great way to gain CAS points (which is of course very important in the IB DP), it was a process of improving vital skills that we would need not only at school, but also in the future. Organisational skills and discipline was important in the preparation stage but overall, commitment was what we needed from the beginning till the end. The process was definitely challenging but through it all we had to review our weaknesses and learn to become better.
Every year, HCIS provides a theme for each of their TEDx events and this year’s theme was “The Road To…”. From here we thought, what was the message that we wanted to send to our audience? Even more importantly, why should they even care about it? What differentiates a TED Talk from any other type of presentation or lecture is the empowerment and emotional bond of the speaker with their topic. I was able to pick something out of my life that could be personal to me and that I was fully passionate about to share with my audience. As Mr. Jungo would always say, “Good news is, you have a lot of options. Bad news is, you have a lot of options.” There were so many different ideas that struck me but in the end I chose a topic that was not only important and personal to me, it was a topic I’ve actually always tended to avoid.
Mental illness is still a controversial issue until this day, with the negative stigma attached to it, people who are diagnosed and have experienced it are too afraid to speak up or ask for help. This varies in extent from patients that are in a mental hospital to everyday people who struggle living with depression, ADHD, OCD and the list continues on. Living with anxiety has changed my life significantly. What started off as what I thought ‘being nervous about settling into high school’ became a part of my life that I wasn’t able to control. It had took me nearly 2 years until I’ve come to the conclusion that I needed to ask for help and that after observing how people tend to view and treat themselves, it wasn’t something only I was struggling in. This was what inspired me to choose this topic as I wanted to speak in behalf of those who were too afraid to and educate people about mental hygiene. From then on, the process of preparing the talk was a repeating cycle of structuring our presentations and practicing in front of Mr. Jungo who supervised and guided us, through giving us feedback and suggestions.
When it finally came to the day of the event, I had never felt so nervous in my life (anxiety clearly doesn’t help either). The auditorium was big and spacious and with both the students from Hwa Chong and the whole 11th grade from ISS inside, it definitely made it seem much more scarier. Thankfully, as the schedule was broken down into sections, my talk was placed near the end. There were a total of 12 student speakers, 3 speakers from ISS which included Hesper (Andrew), Rin (Wada) and I. Most of them were from Hwa Chong and a few others were from OFS, Global Indian, Anglo-Chinese Independent and Hillside World Academy. It was really great being able to meet new people and make new friends at these collaborated school events since we all come from very different backgrounds and cultures. Hearing all the speakers before me really gave me confidence and not to mention eye-opening perspectives on different topics and issues such as feminism and gender identity. We were also lucky enough to be surrounded by such supportive friends, peers and teachers who continued to comfort and encourage us throughout the day. From weeks, it turned to days and all of a sudden I was seconds away to being on stage. I felt as if my heart was going to drop but once I was standing in front of everyone and knew that I was talking about something I was so passionate about, I actually got comfortable and it went much better than any of my previous practices.
Whether you were presenting or a part of the audience, everyone seemed to have a great time and had a lot to say about it:
“It was an amazing experience to meet other young people that are passionate and insightful! I felt that this taught me not only about the world around us and other people’s culture and experience, but about myself and learning to have confidence and present my ideas efficiently.”
– Hesper Andrew, Grade 11 Student & TEDx Speaker
“It was a really fun experience to have, getting to know what people really thought of certain topics and the depth people would go to about what they are truly passionate about.”
– Duodan Chen, Grade 11 Student
“[What is your response on the different talks you heard?] A hit to what we know. Some of us don’t understand what many others of our kind are going through. We consider ourselves as the ideal state of mind, but actually, there are some who don’t have peace in their minds. They have wars, and blood, and tears, but they don’t go on telling others because they have to succumb to what seems normal in the world. Because they understand some people are too narrow minded to think this could possibly be a major issue. Sometimes, they think it’s a phase, but actually, there issues could be the chains that hold a child’s wings to the ground.”
– Sharaf Momen, Grade 11 Student
“Public speaking was never a strength of mine and at first I was very nervous to present in front of a large audience. Preparing for the speech took a lot of effort and time and I felt very anxious as the day of the event became closer and closer, especially because I was sharing my opinion and personal thought about a very controversial topic: gender identity. I worked hard to make a presentation that would open people’s minds and make them think about gender in a new way, as a spectrum instead of boxes. When presenting on the actual stage, I felt very confident and proud of myself and I enjoyed the experience very much. I am so thankful that I had such a wonderful opportunity to share my ideas about gender identity to students from various schools in Singapore and to the world. I would also like to thank my friends and Mr. Jungo for helping me prepare for the event, as I wouldn’t have made such a great achievement without their caring support.”
– Rin Wada, Grade 11 Student & TEDx Speaker
At the end of the day, I was able to experience an amazing opportunity that I’m glad I didn’t miss out on just because I was afraid. Not only did I learn new things throughout the process and listening to others, I was also able to understand myself better. I would definitely recommend to the next grade and those after to take part in this because it’ll be an experience you will never forget.