On Monday night the GMB played host to the final of the TEDxFactor Competition where six speakers battled for a place in the TEDx conference on March 7th. For the newly formed TEDx society the event was a resounding success and showed that the society has truly hit the ground running.
Navika Mehta, an economics student, started the evening with her inspiring story; how teaching dance in her native city Delhi allowed her to have a space for young girls to discuss politics, consent and the importance of education. Mehta saw an opportunity to actively engage with issues, not just to throw money at a charity, and her story showed the importance of empowerment and education in fighting child poverty.
Next up was Bradley Good, a PhD student in the Irish School of Ecumenics, who focused on the issue of everyday racism and how best to combat it. He proposed the establishment of an anti-racism curriculum to be used free of charge in schools and businesses nationwide. He emphasised the importance of activist education and how best we can overcome prejudices and bigotry.
Austrian student Lisa Hämmerle drew upon her studies in international peace studies for her speech. Emotional intelligence, she argued, is not only about empathy, which is significant, but that the abilities self-reflection, self-motivation and dealing with emotions are equally important in this concept and essential to combat conflict. She flourished her speech with personal anecdotes and the many times she herself had encountered people who dealt with situations destructively, simply because they lacked the tools to access their feelings and empathise with the subject. Her subject proved topical in such fraught political times.
Identical twins Mark and Andrew Ansell gave an impassioned and well-articulated speech on their model for success, the “Five Steps To Achieve.” In it they spoke about how becoming homeless at a young age inspired them to look beyond fear and aim for greatness. They themselves are the beneficiaries of widely fought for American scholarships and have between them interned at Tesla, Apple and Microsoft. Their perseverance and intelligence no doubt inspired many students in the audience.
Human Health and Disease student Grace D’Arcy spoke eloquently about the issue of M.S and how best to tackle neurological diseases. Her passion for science communication shone through as she described the various technological advances that have allowed us to better visualise drugs that can best target a response. She was able to break down complex scientific ideas in an easily accessible manner, no small feat for a topic as seemingly incomprehensible as brain disease.
Last but not least was Ciara O’Flynn, an Environmental Studies student who spoke passionately about the importance of female environmental activists. She focused on Rachel Carson and Wangari Maathai, two brave women who faced slander campaigns and police brutality in order to politically engage with injustices and fight against environmental damage. O’Flynn afterward spoke highly of the event, crediting TEDx with allowing the candidates total creative freedom in their speeches. “I really recommend other students to give it a try, it’s great way to practice public speaking and write on something you’re really passionate about.”
MC for the night and Head of Logistics for TEDx, Fiona Waters, emphasised the importance of such an event for the university at large. “We really tried to have a diverse set of speakers with a wide range of topics tonight and we’re delighted with the outcome. There’s so many inspirational students in this university and it’s really all about providing a platform to tell these stories.” Ultimately, Mark and Andrew Ansell were voted the winner and their speech and more can be heard at the conference on March in the Science Gallery.