TEDxLaf: Self-expression

Julia DeFranco

Six students took their turn behind the podium Monday, addressing the topic of “expression” at the bi-annual TEDxLaf conferenece.

The speakers, Ryan Warrier, ‘15, Jason Shavel, ‘17, Zainab Hussein, ‘17, David Hanke ‘16, Barker Carlock, ‘17, and Luke Wasacz ‘16 each spent about ten minutes exploring different aspects of human expression.

The TEDxLaf conference is held once a semester and is open to students who wanted to audition. It provides the opportunity for students who have an idea about something share it with the rest of the school.

“It was a unique experience to platform ideas that you generally don’t get a medium to share,” Shavel said.

Warrier spoke about stepping out of one’s comfort zone, and how everyone, no matter what they’re involved in, should focus on the art of what they do. He explained that art is not just traditional expression, such as a painting or music, but can be anything, such as when we go out of our way to connect with someone. He believes that humans need to focus on the art of their jobs in order to provide the world with something that computers cannot offer.

Shavel spoke about growing up, and the perks of adolescence. He believes the “real world” doesn’t need to have all of the expectations and rules that it has, and there is a time and a place to enjoy adolescence, but that there are also many benefits to maturation.

Hussein discussed the opportunities that were presented to her when she moved from Kibera, Kenya to the United States to pursue her education at Lafayette. She explained that everyone has their own challenges and that if you work hard, you can conquer them.

Hanke asked the audience to consider what he called “The Case for High Speed Rail.” He believes that America should begin making the transition into a country that utilizes railways better. Development of better railways, he said, would solve issues of traffic and pollution that America is faced with today because of the country’s reliance on automobiles.

Carlock explored design in engineering. He believes that before focusing on the end product, we need to focus on why the product is being created, and who is going to be benefitting, and what exactly each product is for. Carlock said to reinvent the way we think, we need to learn to empathize more with the end user, in order to create feasible solutions to problems. He said he began to think this way after taking a gap year in Senegal when he designed a hand washing station for the hospital he was working at.

Wasacz, who spoke about the definition of art, gave the final talk. Art is therapy, empathy, emotion, and celebration, he said, being communicated from creator to viewer. Again, Wasacz advanced the concept that art is not simply a painting or a song, but is anything that anyone does in his or her lifetime.