TEDxUW: A Recap of the Day

In case you missed TEDxUW this year, here’s a recap of the events that took place throughout the day!


8:30 AM: Registration & Breakfast



The day started off with registration and breakfast. At the registration desk we were given cute Waterloo lanyards to wear through the event and breakfast consisted of a variety of pastries, fruit, yogurt and coffee/teas.


9:20 AM – 9:45 AM: Doors Open & Opening Remarks



The event kicked off with a few opening remarks by the host, Arda Ocal, who was very lively and funny, which added a lot more humour to the event.


10:00 AM: First Session

Warriors in Words: Zainab

Warriors in Words was a beautiful poem performed by Zainab. The spoken word piece was a personal piece about how her stories are a part of her identity.


Tanner Phillip: Cryptocurrency vs. Regular Currency

The first speaker of the day was Tanner Phillip, he gave an informative speech about cryptocurrency and why it might be better than regular currency. Cryptocurrency is basically a new financial system that uses Bitcoins and is all digital. In his talk, he spoke about how there isn’t much trust in regular currency with the current banking systems and how cryptocurrency is more secure for your money.


Bruce Taylor: Empowering Grassroots Organizations

Bruce spoke about the greatness of charity but also the greatness of educating and training others in order to sustain the charitable deeds given. In his talk, he mentioned the safe water project and how the charity was becoming distorted after the workers left. He also spoke about the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Let’s invest our charity donations to build a shared and durable prosperity.” –Bruce Taylor


Jennifer Lynes: Taking Environmental Messaging to the Next Level

Jennifer spoke about things everyone should consider to sustain our environment. In her talk, she mentioned 5 things we need to get right for change: 1) Information does not always translate into action, we cannot rely on information as the sole means of moving forward, 2) Abandon scare tactics, 3) Acknowledge that not everyone will be an environmentalist, 4) Harness powers of social change, and 5) Design cool products for the environment.


Daniel Hirdes: Bridging Law Enforcement and Mental Health

Daniel spoke about police response calls to issues regarding mental health and how it is a problem. He mentioned how there should be more support and understanding of the mental health community and how police officers need more resources to support individuals with mental illnesses. “If we expect our Officers to function as Social Workers, Addiction Counsellors, Geriatric Consultants and Mental Health Specialists in addition to their role as Law-Enforcement Officers, we need to at least equip them with the proper tools to do the job.” –Daniel Hirdes


11:20 AM: Lunch Break


During the lunch break, a variety of foods were served to cater to whatever special diet people had. I had the vegetarian option which was stir fried tofu, veggies and rice. There was also some networking going on with some of the sponsors such as Deloitte and Velocity, and musical performances by the Little Berlin band and the AcaBellas.


12:45 PM: 2nd Session

University of Waterloo Water Boys

To kick of the second session, a lovely performance was given by Waterloo’s very own Water Boys. They are an extremely talented a capella group that’s made up of only men.


David Swart: The Curious Intersection of Mapping and Art

The first speaker of the second session was David Swart, he gave a quite humorous speech on cartography, which he called the mathematics for flattening the globe. He essentially spoke about how cartography is much like a combination of math, art and maps. He also gave many examples of his own artwork.


Maysoon Zayid: I Got 99 Problems… Palsy is Just One

This talk was shown as video. In the video, Maysoon spoke about her medical condition, palsy, which refers to various types of paralysis with symptoms such as weakness and shaking. This talk was very empowering as she spoke about how she overcomes the stigma against her condition in society.


Truman Tang: The Dangers of Social Validation

Truman spoke about the importance of the consideration of other’s opinions. In his talk, he mentioned how much society now easily trusts a stranger’s opinion (e.g., Rotten Tomatoes, Rate MD etc.). As we are now living in the age of information, technology is allowing us to make better decisions faster.


Katie Parkes: Tech & Ethics for the Future of Film

Katie spoke about the dangers in regards to Photoshop and how people are becoming more and more skilled in it. She mentioned examples of manipulated images of actors after their passing, fake videos and audio. It makes us question what we should really trust in the media, as most things nowadays are edited.


2:15 PM: Break


The break consisted of a variety of different snacks being served, from cakes to fruits as well as teas served by David’s Tea.  


3:00 PM: 3rd Session

Afro Fusion Dance Club

The third and final session had an exciting start, as the Afro Fusion Dance Club put on a fun and energetic dance performance. They hyped up the crowd, and in a sense woke everyone up from being sleepy after lunch.


GJ Won: How to Battle Blindness

The first speaker of the third session, GJ, spoke about our vision and eyes, and the scientific facts behind it. He gave a small biology lesson on the eyes and spoke about an eye disease called glaucoma. From this talk, I learned not to take my vision for granted.


Elora Hardy: Magical Houses, Made of Bamboo

This talk was shown as a video. Elora spoke about her life as an architect and how she builds beautiful houses and buildings using bamboo. She mentioned how bamboo is a sustainable piece of building equipment as it is earthquake resistant.


Amir Abdelgawad: Challenging the Health Care System

Amir spoke about wait times and other issues in the Canadian health care system. In his talk, he mentioned overcrowded and understaffed hospital settings, as well as a possible solution. His pitch for a solution would be a computerized chip to take samples and diagnose to reduce wait times.


Hamid Tizhoosh: A Call for Educational Reform

The final speaker, Hamid, spoke about issues and problems regarding the current education system in Canada. In his talk, he mentioned how suicide, depression and anxiety is related to the education system and how that needs to change. He spoke about the negative consequences of rankings and how it can lead to extreme stress when students are constantly comparing themselves to others. Education should be focused on nurturing intelligence instead of competition.  

4:20 PM: Final Remarks & Networking


Arda and the co-chairs, Melissa Lee and Taruna Kaur-Singh led the audience through the final remarks to end the talks. After the final remarks, the crowd headed out of the theatre for a networking session with the TEDxUW sponsors to end the event. Water bottles and cookies were given out to every attendee as a souvenir to keep.