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TEDxGrinnell 2015

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxGrinnell, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxGrinnell event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.tedxgrinnell.com

On February 21st, 58 lucky Grinnell students, 16 Grinnell faculty members, and 13 community members scored tickets to go to the first TEDxGrinnell.  It was held in the Roberts Theater from 1-5pm. Students who did not win a ticket had the opportunity to attend a live screening of the event. It featured seven alumni speaking about a range of topics:

            Wadzi Motsi ’12 – Do Something that Scares You

            Emma Kelty-Stephen ’04 – What Do Children Need?

            Lester Alemán ’07 – Accepting Diversity

            Josh Tepfer ’97 ­– Why Would a Kid Falsely Confess to a Crime?

            April Dobbins ’99 – Home is Where the Heart of the Story is

            Zander Cannon ’95 – How to be an Unprofessional Artist

            Tarell “Ahmed” Rodgers ’93 – A Look In the Mirror

TEDxGrinnell also featured four TED talks from previous TED conferences:

            Derek Sivers  – How to Start a Movement

            Jamila Lyiscott – 3 Ways to Speak English

            Chimimanda – The Danger of a Single Story

            Brené Brown – Listening to Shame

In light of recent events that have occurred on campus, Lester Alemán’s talk was especially relevant. He shared his experiences in middle and high school in Los Angeles, where no one in the classroom looked like him. It was not until he was selected as a Posse scholar that he was able to participate in a learning community of people with similar backgrounds. After eight empowering months of discussion and preparation with his Posse, he was excited to come to Grinnell. Upon arriving to Grinnell, however, he was once again confronted with a lack of diversity in the student body.

Lester also discussed statistics about diversity of the Future 500 CEO (9 African Americans, 10 Asian Americans, 10 Hispanics, 24 women), within Congress, and in higher educational institutions. White people clearly dominate in all categories. It is important to not only accept, but value diversity in our communities, starting here at Grinnell.

A very powerful and inspiring talk was Chimimanda’s The Danger of a Single Story. She describes the influence that British stories had on her as a young girl growing up in Nigeria. The power of stories is the danger of only understanding one side about a group. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

She also states that “Show people as one thing and one thing only over and over again, and that is what they become.” This is the consequence of a single story; it emphasizes how different people are and robs people of their dignity. By engaging with all the stories of a person, place, or issue, the danger of a single story can be avoided. It is important that we all expand our horizons and do not fall into the trap of the single story.

If you were unable to watch the TEDxGrinnell, videos of the talks will be posted on TEDxGrinnell’s Youtube account shortly. The TED talks from previous years are already posted on Youtube and I highly encourage everyone to watch them!

For more information: http://www.tedxgrinnell.com

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