TEDx brings inspiring speakers to campus

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TEDxLafayetteCollege speakers in Colton Chapel. [Photo courtesy of Anna-Lisa Ashman ‘16 ]

Kyaw Zayar Lin

Lafayette students gathered in Colton Chapel last Saturday for the annual TEDxLafayetteCollege Conference to hear speakers, like CEO of SHREDZ Supplements Arvin Lal, share stories about unconventional paths they’ve taken in their lives.

“If money is not an object, if you could do what you want to without worrying about money, what would you do?” she asked.

He answered this question three years ago by quitting his job, moving back to his parents’ house and starting a supplement business out of his parents’ garage. He got out of the safe zone and chose a path that ordinary people normally would not take.

Speakers at the event also included Tim Bonner and Hala Rihan-Bonner, former university professors and administrators  and owners of Taza Truck which serves fresh homemade Egyptian cuisine; Torin Perez ’09, co-founder of Globally Bold and Lafayette alumnus; Sebastiaan de With, a freelance designer, motorcyclist and photographer who made a trip to Alaskan Arctic by motorcycle; and Carla Blumenthal, founder of tea and purpose which organizes gatherings with women from various backgrounds in New York city for self-exploration.

The point of the TED talks, according to David Hanke‘16, an organizer of the event, is not to convert political or ideological purpose, but rather share worthwhile ideas from people in the community.

“It is a chance for students to really bring their own intellectual interests to the community,” President Alison Byerly said. “So much of what happens as part of your education here is dictated by curricular interest and faculty interest. It is really nice when students take the initiative to say, ‘Here is some speakers that we like to hear from,’ and bring them to campus.”

The organizers of the event find benefit in exposing students to different perspectives from people of various fields. The group is looking to expand their offerings to the student body.

“Our goals for next year will be to really establish our presence and we really hope to expand this event,” said Hong Ha Vu’17, one of the organizers of the event.

TEDxLafayetteCollege is the only organization on campus that is entirely run by students. There was no advisor or faculty’s involvement with the program. Students were responsible for a number of tasks, from inviting the speakers to making sure their presentations were acceptable and appropriate.

The TEDx team has plans to spread to create a TED Week next year with screened TED talks and discussions.

“I think as an academic institution that really values debate and exchange of ideas to hear a range of different speakers all in one afternoon each presenting a specific perspective and viewpoint in a focused and powerful way is good exposure for students,” Byerly said, “and I think usually stimulates really good discussions.”