23 Nov 2015

From TED App to TEDx Attendee

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By Kari Strickland on November 23, 2015

I was fortunate enough to attend the TEDxSMU event this fall in the Dallas City Performing Hall. For years I’ve dreamed of attending a TEDx event, and was thrilled to fulfill that dream through a scholarship opportunity.

My interest in TEDx began by listening to recorded talks on the TED app while serving in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. The town I was stationed in had no Internet access, but once a week I took the bus into town and downloaded as many talks as I could. I listed to these talks throughout the week and on long bus rides to the capital. They served as a way to keep me connected to what was going on in the US as well as a way to inspire me to action in my own work.

What I hadn’t anticipated when I arrived at TEDxSMU was the energy that came from watching the talks live. When I watched videos I was compelled by the speakers’ arguments, but at the event I got swept up in the passion, not only of the speaker, but of the hundreds of people around me who were motivated by a similar passion.

One of the great things about going to a TEDx conference in Dallas was the ability to learn about the amazing work being done in the community. One of the most entertaining speeches of the day was by Alice Laussade who talked about the inspiration behind Meat Fight. This is a huge event that raised $100,000 dollars last year for MS research and has hosted some of the finest chefs in the state as judges (as well as Nick Offerman), but I never knew about it until I heard her talk. Coming from a non-profit background, hearing her speak about the importance of making volunteering fun was something I identified with. She was full of amazing ideas about how to enhance the impact of non-profit fundraising by making it approachable to people, something which I can share with my co-workers who are still in this space.

The other speech that stood out to me that day was by Seth Fairchild. Seth, a member of the Choctaw Nation, spoke on the importance of preserving cultural memories by preserving the stories of the tribe’s elders. He led with a powerful message, “every time an elder dies, a library burns with them”. Passing on history, therefore, is about looking forward. It’s not simply about preserving things that have passed, but giving back to the future by educating kids about their cultural heritage. This talk hit home with me as I thought about my own grandfather working to preserve his story in a book that he recently wrote for our family.

Overall, the experience was incredibly moving and provided lots of inspiration for things I want to learn more about, as well as changes I can make in my daily life. Hearing from these speakers, getting the chance to meet them as well as other participants through the daylong event was an experience that I’ll remember positively for years to come.

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