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Grinnell to host speakers for biannual TEDx conference

Although watching a TED Talk usually occurs on YouTube and Facebook, the College has hosted its own series in the Grinnell community: TEDxGrinnell. This Saturday, Nov. 3 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Roberts Theater, students and Grinnell community members will have the opportunity to hear numerous lectures from Grinnell College alumni.

TEDxGrinnell.  an independently-coordinated TED event, will have the basic format of a regular TED Talk. Speakers will give 10 to 15 minute long talks, which will follow the year’s theme, “Turn On the Light.” The purpose will be to focus on topics and areas of interest that speakers don’t usually cover in TED events.

“[There will be] one talk about the deaf community, and another that will be about the effects of current legislation and political issues on students in schools themselves,” said Megan Tcheng ’19, one of the organizers and coordinators of the event.

A talk on the deaf community will be given by a Grinnell alum, Jody Haymond ’67, who has become very prominent in the deaf community and will focus on navigating the controversy of cochlear implants.

Kenji Yoshino ’11, a Grinnell alum who invented a small and inexpensive microscope, will discuss how he motivates himself and others to achieve their goals in life.

The process of choosing speakers was highly selective. Tcheng, who is also on the speaker subcommittee, explained that they approached alumni who had an “interesting personal backstory or career path, the dynamic personality needed to captivate an audience, had not visited Grinnell for some time, and came from a variety of different classes and cultural backgrounds.” Once the process was over, the subcommittee chose seven different speakers and prerecorded three Ted talks relevant to the central theme.

Many different factors go into the process of planning and executing the conference. Tcheng, who began working for TEDxGrinnell her first year for the previous event, says that the main work included finding a date, committee, staff and community members to help and then picking speakers to talk during the event, as well as advertising and ticketing.

“It’s good that we have a conference every other year … because then we have roughly a year and a half to plan for [the event] itself,” Tcheng said.

“Turn On the Light” will be very similar in structure to the last conference two years ago that was themed “Bursting the Bubble.” However, the experience will be incredibly different due to the talks themselves.

“The conferences are designed around the speakers. All of them have very different backgrounds, areas of interest, and focuses of their talk,” Tcheng said.


The theme for this year’s TEDxGrinnell will be “Turn On the Light.” Photo by Sarina Lincoln.
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