Special to The Denisonian

College: where ideas are shared and students and professors are at a heightened state of inspiration and zest for the possibility of a better future.

Well, everyone knows that’s not always true. Every now and then there’s a needed nudge to discover our enthusiasm for life and gain a new perspective on both ourselves and the place we hold in the outside realm of society. 

This year’s TEDx primarily focused on these very themes. Hosted by Dr. Laurel Kennedy, the talks were led by passionate students and professors learning how to navigate and find their place in the world, question their place in society and also question the limitations society often places on us and our responsibility to respond to these limitations.

Jenny Kim ’16 spoke of home and how home is more than just a physical space, of home being the people you meet, of home being something you can always carry within you so you’re never really alone.

Omar Vargas ’16 spoke of identity being fluid and dynamic as he reflected on how he holds different identities at home and here at school, relying on the tensions between overcoming the boxed identity of a minority in America to be seen as a dynamic person.

Going in a similar vein, Emily Schultz ’16 spoke about the comfort social media sites provides by giving people a curtain to hide behind that is often used to replace the needs of physical interaction as opposed to being used as an enhancement to one’s social life.

She reflected on her experience with leaving technology behind and discovering a new adventure in her time in Oxford, studying abroad.

Yangsun Kim ’16 similarly reflected on an epic journey she took on the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, 800km long, this pilgrimage took her 35 days to complete.

Along the way, she said she learnt how to let go of her possessions and share the simple pleasures of life with those she met along the way, strangers on the same journey, with one soul. B

listers, injured knees and new friends were made along the way and changed her forever teaching us to embrace life and people with open arms.

Dr. Diana Mafe spoke on Hollywood’s lack of diversity in an age where nothing limits the scope of cinema but our imagination.

In an age where we can dream up aliens, monsters and entire universes, there is still outrage when a colored woman plays a lead role in a movie. Her call, is to us as an audience; if we demand representation, then the industry will simply have to give it to us.

Dr. Quentin Duroy gave a compelling talk on our responsibility to future generations in investing for alternative sources of energy.

To illuminate his point he said, “Our carbon footprint is so high that if the world ends in 2100, we are probably okay, but if we are to be more hopeful, we need to make an institutionalized effort on a global scale in order to restore the balance.”

Sam Heyman ‘14 appealed to all Denison students with his talk on gamefulness. “Giving advice is easier than taking your own”, he said. So, in order to stay motivated, we need to adopt a secret identity and gain some cognitive distance.

His four forms–resilience, physical, social, mental and emotional–alluded to the importance of getting your heart beaten, destressing by playing a game or meditating and maintaining the connections around us. Life doesn’t always make us feel powerful he said, we have to involve the people we care about.

Sarah Curtin ‘18 spoke about heartbreak and the importance of heartbreak in showing us how capable we are of withstanding anything. She reflected on her own experience with heartbreak, how utterly devastating it feels like in the moment, but in hindsight, it teaches you that you don’t need external validation from another person to be the amazing person you already are.

This proved to be a quality year for TEDx. The variety of speakers dealt with themes that were fundamentally human, vulnerable and exposed, which helped connect to a broad audience.

Kim remarked that, “I’ve followed Ted talks since high school, so participating as a graduating senior was a great opportunity for me.”

They spoke with relatability and made sure to help the audience realize things that at some point or another we needed to hear, to serve as a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles.

photo courtesy of TEDxDenisonU