TEDxUNT inspires audience to re-imagine their community

TEDxUNT inspires audience to re-imagine their community

TEDxUNT inspires audience to re-imagine their community
September 13
21:50 2016

On Monday evening, TEDxUNT held their first organized event in the University Union. Seven students, alumni and community members discussed the topic of “(re)imagine.” They shared ideas of connection, understanding and making a positive change in the community.

The journey to this event all started a year ago in Katie Berlin’s apartment.

Berlin, a converged broadcast media graduate, felt inspired during an internship in Los Angeles last year when thinking about TED talks and integrating them with the University of North Texas community.

“I wanted to create a brand so TEDxUNT can exist through time,” she said, “I wanted to initiate dialogue and challenge people to think. It’s totally about education and dialogue.”

Kimendran Chetty at TEDx UNT (re)imagining. Vishal Malhotra - CLEAR

Kimendran Chetty at TEDx UNT (re)imagining. Vishal Malhotra | CLEAR

Through her vision and the shared vision of the TED brand, she was able to bring like minded people together to begin the process of establishing TEDxUNT. Their passion for education and change was what put together Monday night’s event.

“We’re not alone,” Berlin said. “There are people that want to connect to the world and make a difference.”

The TEDxUNT committee received idea submissions from UNT students, university alumni and Denton citizens about potential ideas for the talks. After extensive auditions and preparation, they found their speakers for the event.

The first speaker was counseling psychology Ph.D. student David Mosher. In his speech, he addressed how often we dismiss others based on how they look, yet we are all the same on the inside. He called the act of acknowledging our limitations and trying to connect to those around us “cultural humility.”

“We separate ourselves based on cultural superiority,” Mosher said. “But everyone’s story is true and meaningful.”

The following speaker was international student Kimendran Chetty, a communications major who shared a love story beyond preconceived notions.

“I am an international student, but like all great tragedies, I fell in love,” Chetty said. “Not with a girl, but with a country. This country taught me how to dream and I continue dreaming each day.”

He was forever changed by the opportunity at a better life and a better education in America.

“It’s up to us to change our lives,” he said. “Be the change.”

Susan Motheral at TEDx UNT (re)imagining.

Susan Motheral at TEDx UNT (re)imagining. Vishal Malhotra | CLEAR

Following him was Ph.D. transformational coach Susan Motheral, who shared the tale of Danish citizens who left to join the terrorist organization ISIS, and later returned to Denmark to be integrated back into society. Instead of being turned away or treated cruelly, they were extended a hand of love that had positive results.

“We all want to feel connected to each other,” she said.

The fourth speaker was rehabilitation counseling major Michael Scott. With courage and a vision, he shared his struggle with addiction.

“He was sitting right next to you,” Scott said, connecting himself to the audience with a third person perspective. The boy in his story could be anyone struggling with an addiction or form of self-harm and we would have never known.

After him was physics graduate student Hailhang Wang. He shared his vision of environmental consciousness and friendliness.

“Is there a way to revive the once great environment we used to live in?” Wang said. “We must find a more environmentally friendly and efficient material than plastic.”

Finance student Blake Hyman then took the stage to express his passion for science fiction. Hyman’s speech was meant to take the audience beyond their imaginations by explaining how science fiction has become our reality. He expressed that the technology and ideas behind great cinematic works of science fiction were beyond their time. For example, Star Trek featured a device similar to the modern cellphone half a century before we saw them in our pockets. Even now, we see science fiction reach beyond current capabilities.

“We imagined these futures of us traveling through space,” he said. “But now we see governments and private companies trying to achieve these goals.”

The final speaker, Marcelo Ostria, shared the perspective of impoverished children.

“I could not conceptualize the idea of poverty and social inequality,” he said. “I started digging and children were not represented by children, but experts and adults. Only 10 studies [out] of thousands had actual input from children.”

Although each speaker had their own words to say and advice to give, Berlin had one goal in mind.

Her goal was to have speakers that would shine a light on issues that could open the minds of others. To her, re-imagining meant seeing realities and possibilities beyond our own. The event was a means to build a community of diversity and understanding. Integrating TEDx to UNT was a way of sharing ideas that will spark curiosity and change and the committee sees these events to be recurring.

“We wanted to encourage [people] to change their perspectives,” Berlin said. “Anyone with an idea worth sharing can be a TEDxUNT speaker. It’s all about coming together as a community.”

Featured Image: Kimendran Chetty, left, Blake Hyman, Michael Scott, David Mosher, Susan Motheral, Haihang Wang at TEDx UNT (re)imagining. Vishal Malhotra | CLEAR

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Bina Perino

Bina Perino

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