TEDx has arrived!

iTEACH - Jose Claro () - March 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Tradition Built on Innovation.” No other theme could have perfectly encapsulated what transpired at the first ever TEDx talk held in the Philippines. For those who may not know, TED (Technology Entertainment Design) talks are global conferences formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” Per its official website, what is unique about these talks is that speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging way possible. Among educators and people who love learning, TED videos are spread virally over social networking sites to prove a point that nerdy can also be cool. TEDx, on the other hand, as Stephanie Rosenbloom in her New York Times article reports, is a democratization of the original TED talks so that the TED format for conferences could be organized by schools, businesses, and neighborhoods around the world. In our country, Xavier School was the first to accept the challenge of organizing a TEDx event, which they opened to the community. Among those invited were my students from ERDA Tech, as well as various representatives from different public and private schools in Manila. 

Mark Ruiz of Hapinoy raised the bar high as the first speaker for the day who recounted the success story of Hapinoy which has organized thousands of sari-sari store micro-entrepreneurs in the country to expand their capital and financial investments. Ruiz noted that the fondness of Filipinos to engage in small ventures shouldn’t necessarily be an obstacle for the country to dream big.

Even though they were only high school students, Deondre Ng and Raynard Lao were able to prove that they had already gained enough experience to speak on the TEDx stage. Deondre talked about his self-taught skill of creating computer applications while Raynard amused his audience with his story of how an ordinary student like him became a champion debater. After one awesome speaker after another, the talk ended appropriately with the most accomplished speaker in the person of Tony Meloto who updated the audience on how GK is still going strong in its mission of dignifying poor Filipinos. 

The conference was most opportune as my students then were just about to defend their research paper. As my students are not the best English speakers, no matter how hard they have worked, it has been frustrating how they present poorly in front of the class. 

But that was not the case this year. Wearing their TEDx IDs they got from the conference, my students were able to defend their topics as if they were experts. I have never seen my students speak so confidently despite the challenge of explaining a complex issue in a language they have not mastered. As they were the first to present, they were also able to share their passion with their classmates who were unable to attend the speaking engagement. Their break-out performance, my students shared, was because of TEDx. One of my students, Ceddie, wrote that a good talk could be summarized in six words: emphasis, knowledge, experience, proof, confidence, and heart. Another student of mine, Adrian Gonzales, learned that it was the speaker’s obligation to make sure the audience would listen to the presentation. To do this, he writes, one has to exude confidence and prove to the world that “he has something to say.” Most empowering was what he wrote in his reflection: “Even though we are just poor students, seated with rich private school students, the event made us all equal because information and insight was accessible to everyone in the conference.” His favorite was the speech of Tony Meloto, of whom he shared, “Tony Meloto may not have been the trendiest and techiest speaker in the conference, but I could feel his heart when he was speaking. Similarly, in my oral defense, I know that even if I do not speak good English, if I show heart and passion, I will be able to deliver a good talk.”

Hats off to the organizers of TEDx Xavier for bringing to the country a forum where the audience could learn so much in such a short amount of time. These conferences, however, don’t end with learning. Student-speaker Deondre Ng said it best in his presentation: [We also have] to share what we know. It is our responsibility to share ... the things we have learned and realized. Who knows? One day, we may be part of someone’s learning experience.”

Thank you, Deondre, and to all the excellent speakers during that day for teaching my students that everyone deserves to be heard and that even they are capable of sharing ideas worth spreading.

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