I watched my first TED Talk in high school. Unfortunately I don't remember which one it was, but I was hooked. Once I got to college, I started watching more and more TED Talks on a plethora of topics and issues. Whenever I had 20 minutes or so, I would pull up the TED app on my iPad and watch a talk or two. To my delight, there was a TEDx program already at The Ohio State University and during the autumn of my second year at Ohio State my own TED journey began when I started working on the TEDxOhioStateUniversity team.
As the academic year progressed, I felt more and more that I had found my home at OSU. At a university of 60,000 one can has to find his or her niche to not feel like just a number, and I had. TEDxOhioStateUniversity had become what I could call home away from home.
I was chosen to be the license-holder and Curator for TEDxOhioStateUniversity for the following year. In order to be the license-holder I attended TEDActive 2014 in Whistler, British Colombia, Canada. I had an amalgamation of feelings, but excitement and gratitude were most profound.
TEDActive 2014 was amazing. Although 20-hour days for an entire week may seem exhausting, the collective energy of the conference was absolutely contagious. I would wake up around 7 AM to get ready. The day's activities started at 8 AM and there were talks, workshops, breaks, and activities around Whistler until about 7 PM. Then there would be dinner, reception, and evening activities sanctioned by TED until 11 PM or so. Afterwards all the attendees would make their own plans and the night would finally end between 2 AM and 3 AM. Each day was filled with so much energy and activity (and food, so much food) that by the end of the conference I had felt like I had been there for a whole month. The feeling of community there was incredible. That feeling and that community did not disappear after the actual conference was over. Due to the internet, the TED community is very global and very real. During that week I learned so much, met so many people from all over the world, made so many friends, and had the best week of my life. I am so grateful that I can say I know people in nearly every timezone in the world, and even more grateful for the friends I have made because of this conference. I made truly profound and surprisingly global friendships that I have still to this day. Words cannot do justice to the immense feeling of gratitude I have for these friendships.
TEDxOhioStateUniversity 2014: Time and Change
On February 8th, 2014, a year's worth of work had culminated into a day filled with ideas worth spreading.With nine talks, five performances (the last of which was a mini-rave with glowsticks), and 750 tickets sold, this was our biggest event yet. While conducting the technical aspects of the show from backstage, I was exhilarated to see everything finally coming together. There were many long days and sleepless nights in the process of putting together this event, but it was so worth it.
TEDxOhioStateUniversity 2015: The Human Narrative
Being the Curator of TEDxOhioStateUniversity was a very taxing process. Having to manage all aspects of the operation allowed me to grow so much. I learned how to manage and delegate instead of doing everything on my own; I learned how to trust and rely on my team to support me; I learned so many skills that one cannot in the classroom setting. I would spend 30+ hours per week on one aspect or another of TEDx, but the sleepless days and nights were well worth it when everything coalesced on Saturday February 14th, 2015. It was a cornerstone experience in my college career, and thankfully I had a great team that made it happen.
The audience loved all 13 speakers and four performers, which was a delight and a relief as deciding who to put our stage was a long and exhausting process. With 1,500 tickets, the event was a hit. The stage looked fantastic, we were able to be secure financially, and with the help of Ohio State alumnus Chris Pan, we were able to give all of our attendees a MyIntent bracelet–part of an amazing project Chris started after leaving Facebook.
Eight months of toil had concluded with an amazing day filled with stories that captured the essence of what it meant to be a human being.
Due to my participation in Ohio State's inaugural Second Year Transformational Experience Fellowship in the previous year and my ever-supportive parents' generosity, I was able to gather enough funds to make a trip to TEDActive again. I had the best week of my life at TEDActive in 2014, and to have the opportunity to have the best week again was amazing. I was able to see so many friends from every corner of the world I hadn't seen in a year, and I was able to make so many new friends. And again many of these friendships have become deep and genuine relationships, for which I am very grateful. Being a TEDActive veteran, I felt very comfortable with everything more and since I already knew a good portion of the attendees from the prior year, I felt like I could open myself up even more. This year, there were definitely more people my age, which was exciting in it's own way. The craft beer tasting night was terrific as well; you can't really find craft beer from Alberta and Austria in Ohio. The entire week was what I would imagine ecstasy to feel like; the energy at this conference is to that level. Every. Single. Day.
TED-Ed at East High School
TED-Ed is a program that was started by TED a couple years ago, and its aim is to educate younger people and allow them to spread their ideas to peers with TED-like presentations. TED-Ed has educational videos and curricula based around that, and also an aspect called TED-Ed clubs. In partnership with the Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection, we at TEDxOhioStateUniversity started a club at East High School, an underprivileged high school in Columbus. Over the course of a semester, a few of my peers and I mentored students and helped them create their own TED Talks. At the end of the semester, we rented out an auditorium on Ohio State's campus, invited friends, families, and peers, and put together an event in which these (often voiceless) students could share their ideas worth spreading.
TEDxOhioStateUniversity 2016: Reconstructing Reality
Instead of leading TEDxOhioStateUniversity again I chose to hand the reins to another team member's very capable hands, and take on a relatively less intense role on the executive board as the Director of Finance and Development. This not only allowed others to grow and gain experiences like I had while being in charge, but it also allowed me to pursue a fellowship during my senior year with the Columbus Partnership—a key player in the economic growth of Columbus.
Being in charge of growing the organization's breadth and depth, as well as collecting finances, was not any easier or less stressful than in the past, but I felt much more comfortable with the task as I had had quite a bit of experience from the previous year. But again, the dedication and teamwork of our team allowed us to have an event that was bigger than any event in the past. Our production was better, our audience was larger, our talks felt more refined. Every aspect of the event felt successful. It was indeed a great way to finish my four years at Ohio State.
I cannot wait to see how TEDxOhioStateUniveristy grows and flourishes in the upcoming years.