I am so honored and lucky to work at The School at Columbia University, especially on days like today. I planned with a small, dedicated group of faculty to organize TEDxYouth@TheSchool, and now that it is over, I am sitting in awe over what we accomplished. TEDxYouth@TheSchool was one of 60 events happening worldwide as part of TEDxYouthDay on November 20th, 2010 (also known as Universal Children’s Day). It was a day dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth all over the world to know that they can be The One, they can make a difference, and they can change the world, both locally and globally.
My committee gathered speakers from all over the city:
Leave it Better spoke of their efforts to transform public spaces for the next generation, working with children to create urban gardens in abandoned lots. Graham Meriwether is also a producer of the documentary “American Meat” (Twitter: @leaveitbetter)
Hunter Johansson spoke of his work as a campaign president for Barack Obama in Jefferson County, Colorado
Juan Villar-Ojito, a junior in high school, spoke of his passion for acting and his experience being in a production of The Laramie Project
Christina Gelsone, clown/actress/acrobat/performer/traveler/peacemaker, spoke of bringing laughter and performance art to people all over the world with The Bond Street Theatre (Twitter: @Bond_St_Theatre)
7th and 8th graders from The Manhattan Country School, Vaughn, Isaiah, and Mayo talked about their impressive activism projects that took them to Washington D.C. to represent a variety of causes.
The Columbia Clefhangers gave an amazing performance! Their diverse group literally demonstrated how people can come together in harmony.
Carson Chodos is a social studies teacher at The School and spoke about education versus schooling and how “lliteracy should be redefined to include what you’re doing with it.”
Michelle Cheung, an advocate at iMentor and ESL teacher talked about how volunteering is a lifestyle. I love that!
Ceceia Nealon-Shapiro is a high school junior and spoke of her service work in Africa, Israel, and here in New York City.
Allegra Califano is a sophomore and is an active member of her school’s Red Cross Club. She thrives on opportunities to contribute and learn.
As per TEDx guidelines, we also watched two TED Talk videos:
Josh Silver’s TED Talk demos adjustable liquid-filled eyeglasses
Josh Klein’s TED Talk of the amazing intelligence of crows
The hard work was all worth it. The day went swimmingly and would not have been possible without:
The School at Columbia University and our head of school, Annette Raphel – for hosting, providing security, funding what was needed, ensuring our space was safe and clean, and being a place where I am inspired every day
Flik Independent School Dining – for nourishing our bodies at breakfast and lunch between sessions where our speakers fed our minds
Gina Marcel – she (wo)manned the assortment of cameras for the livestream and the archival footage and assisted as needed for weeks (Twitter: @fpgina)
Andrew Gardner – who rallied to gather speakers (including his brother-in-law, Hunter), helped design the program, generously gave his time for setup/cleanup, and asked many a question to keep me on track and focused so I didn’t have to wallow in anxiety (Twitter: @agardnahh)
Zoe Paraskevopoulos – who brought in The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Christina Gelsone of Bond Street Theatre, and Michelle Cheung, chose our TED Talks for the day, live tweeted the entire day from our @TEDxYouthTSCU Twitter account after 2 minutes of instruction on how to use Twitter, set up our livestream lab where students could watch other TEDxYouthDay events happening around the world, and made me want to learn how to spell her last name out of respect for how awesome she is (Twitter: @zparaske)
Kathryn Kaiser – who probably could have managed to put on TEDxYouth@TheSchool singlehandedly, but luckily had lots of other responsibilities as a parent and principal at The School, thus allowing the rest of us to work equally hard
Kate Berten – she designed our program, liaised with speakers, and managed our stage design (Twitter: @k8berten)
Julia Alexander – created the lovely signage throughout the building and managed speaker prep for many of our talks
Sabrina Goldberg – who brought in two of our our alumni speakers and helped communicate with parents
Cristina Martinez – who set up and taught me how to manage our website created with DrupalGardens (Twitter: @finlaycm)
Don Buckley – my boss and mentor who inspired me to build a day that would impress him 🙂 (Twitter: @donbuckley)
The Parents Association who advertised TEDxYouth@TheSchool every week in our school newsletter, “The Lion’s Share,” and communicated with the parent body to reinforce the value of our event
Kiersten Chou – for photographing the event and for hooking me up with Graham Meriwether of Leave It Better and Stacey Murphy of BK Farmyards (Twitter: @choutofu)
Please enjoy the photos below and in the TEDxYouth@TheSchool Flickr group pool: