It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to attend TEDxTeen 2016, which took place in London on the 16th of January.
The theme of the event, which featured several inspirational and empowering talks and performances, was Untapped. This referred to all the potential that young people have to make a positive difference in the world. All the talks and performances were by young people and sometimes even teenagers, which emphasised the fact that the creativity that young people possess is extremely powerful and even one inexperienced teenager can change the lives of millions across the globe with the right idea and mindset.
A good example of this would be Ciara Judge, who gave a talk on how she was able to help people through simply her intellectual curiosity and determination. Her experiment investigating the effect of nitrogen fixing bacteria on the yield of cereal crops has helped to combat world hunger and she managed to perform it without even leaving her own home! I think it’s important to recognise how simply she was able to conduct the experiment and in my opinion the most important part of the process was her taking the initiative to investigate her hypothesis, which she could’ve easily disregarded at the time. As an A Level student myself, I can also appreciate the time that she put into the experiment alongside the public exams that she was having to take. Ciara described the hardships of the experiment that she had to go through, including having to take readings every six hours for her preliminary experiments, which involved staying up till 12am and waking up at 6am daily. Despite having had inconclusive results in this preliminary experiment, she stuck by her hypothesis with the logic that even if the hypothesis was proved to be incorrect, she still would have shown that nitrogen fixing bacteria do not have a particularly positive effect on crop yield of cereal crops and so nobody in the future would have to spend time investigating it. To reiterate it was Ciara’s determination, positive mindset and intellectual curiosity in this experiment that made her’s my favourite talk of the day..
Many of the performers also brought original ideas to their art which helped me to remember exactly how many talented people I was surrounded by during the day. I’m not only referring to those who were on stage during the evening but all those sat in the audience around me. There were young people from all sorts of NGOs and businesses that all must have had their own stories to tell. For this reason, TEDxTeen had set up an area where guests had the chance to audition to be a speaker on TEDxTeen for next year, during breaks between sessions. The 3 breaks during the day also gave me a chance to explore everything around the event. There had been stalls set up where you could try out new apps by Adobe, speak with a mentor for career and goals advice or even build your own tablet computer! The organisers had really made sure that everyone would stay engaged with the event and more importantly the theme of the event. What also really struck me was the range of speakers at the event, from a hijabi H&M model to a dumpster diver. All of them were doing their bit to not only change the world themselves but also to make others reflect on their mindsets and to challenge them to step out of their comfort zones.
One message that many of the speakers attempted to deliver was that the only way to truly find happiness is to help others. They motivated us to make time for things that we want to get done and highlighted how easy it is to make time for something when you don’t give yourself an option to not make time for it. Lastly, they highlighted the importance of finding your own talent and skill. Along with a good work ethic, this is essentially a key to success, especially for when helping others. I think what I have taken away most from the event is that simplicity is key, good intentions and determination lead to innovation and working with something that you’re passionate about to help others will have the greatest impact. Try it for yourself!