Page 11 - FIS World May 2019
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TEDx Makes a Debut at FIS
Students present ideas worth spreading
“The power of ideas to change lives and ultimately, the world,” is the spirit and purpose of TED.
But, what or who is TED? And what happens when a small “x” is placed at the end of the three letters to create TEDx? TED, which is an acronym for technol- ogy, entertainment and design, is a media organiza- tion that hosts conferences around the world where speakers share “ideas worth spreading.” A small “x” at the end means the conference is “independently organized.”
In March, FIS hosted its first-ever TEDx conference. Understandably, “changing lives and ultimately, the world” through “ideas worth spreading” is no small task. For FIS, and specifically the three faculty mem- bers, seven organizers and eight student present- ers, it took almost two years to happen. In the end, however, it was well worth the wait and the consid- erable efforts.
Grade 12 students Hannah (Jeeyoon) , Student Organizer, and Claire, Student Co-Organizer, opened the inaugural FIS TEDx conference in the audito- rium. They enthusiastically welcomed the audience and explained there would be a variety of talks that would unleash new ideas, inspire and inform. They didn’t exaggerate.
Eight students delivered carefully prepared talks on topics ranging from the decline of journalism, to the importance of motivation, to antibiotic resistance. While diverse in subject, every topic had in com- mon one thing: its importance to the speakers. “All of the speakers are passionate about certain things in their lives and wanted to share those ideas,” said Michael McDowell, who is an Upper School English Teacher and served as the lead faculty organizer for the FIS TEDx event.
Grade 12 student, Linnea, spoke passionately about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) roles. “I have always been passion- ate about women in STEM,” she said. “My parents ed- ucated me at a very young age through books about women’s suffrage and feminism. It’s something that is very important to me.”
Shai, also a Grade 12 student, spoke persuasively about the future of transportation, primarily in cit- ies. He said, “My talk centered upon the relatively controversial, yet factually supported positions, that the era of the traditional gas-powered car is ending,
and this is a good thing for us as individuals, for cit- ies – and for our environment.”
Each of the student speakers were assigned coaches. Shai said he was “immensely grateful” for the help from his coaches, fellow student, Bo, and Upper School Art teacher, Jessica Russo-Scherr. He said his original topic was about sustainable cities, which he later concluded was too broad. “My coaches gave me valuable feedback on my first topic and drove me to hone in on transportation,” he said. “It gave my pre- sentation more clarity and in turn, led it to be more in line with TEDx’s motto of ideas worth spreading.”
Every TED and TEDx presenter is tasked with “chang- ing lives,” and Shai believes his speech had impact. He said that one audience member approached him after the event and told him, “Let’s just say I’ll be tak- ing the train to school tomorrow.”
All of the speakers are passionate about certain things in their lives and wanted to share those ideas.
Every presenter found the experience impacted them as well. Jeff Kalas, Upper School Counselor, was in the audience and pointed out how important the experience was for the student participants them- selves. “The skills learned for presenting at TEDx are significant,” he said. “They are the power of persua- sion, the ability to motivate people, and the abil- ity to inform. These are important competencies to have in our society.”
Paul Fochtman, Head of School, also in the audience, lauded the participants and expressed his hope that FIS TEDx will become a tradition. He said, “Both speak- ers and organizers deserve a huge thank you for get- ting our school started on what I hope will be a new FIS tradition of sharing views of our students with the rest of the world through TEDx.”
Emmett Kelly
FIS Parent
May 2019 FIS World 9

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