Luca Dhagat

November 2nd saw EVHS’s very-own student-organized TED-talk. Completely volunteer-run, student organizers were able to feature incredibly-talented speakers. 

“Some of these concepts you may find offending. We want you to challenge your own ideas,” said Ibrahim Khan, a student-volunteer who described the importance of doing your best to truly grasp the concepts behind the talks we were about to hear.

The event included three speakers. The first of which being Gary White, a respected local climate activist. Gary White identified himself as an organizer with 350 Silicon Valley, a student-founded climate change organization fighting against the use of fossil fuels. Citing examples like the recent Kincaid Fire and Hurricane Maria, Gary focused his talk on how climate change continues to affect all of us. His talk then focused on the importance of taking action to reverse climate change. Referencing recent actions such as the School Strike for Climate, he described how young people, especially students, are taking a more active role in the fight against climate change. 

Dennis DiDonna, the founder of the Sabbatical Project, centered his talk around how taking long breaks from work can be beneficial. To him, taking sabbaticals not only is important to increasing your productivity, but it also gives you time to focus and explore what you truly find important. Whether that be taking care of a loved one, or starting your dream company, long periods of vacation allow you to pursue projects you otherwise wouldn’t have time to do. As more companies are beginning to allow for sabbaticals in their vacation policy, DiDonna stressed that allowing employees to take extended breaks from work is very beneficial in the business world. Not only are employees more creative and effective, but a sabbatical policy is also a competitive employee benefit, and can make it easier to recruit skilled personnel.

Francis Tapon, an author and traveler, was the last of the speakers. He captivated the audience by describing how he traveled to every country in Africa. In his jeep, he gave thousands of hitchhikers across Africa free rides. This gave him the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, from farmers to army soldiers. Being able to talk to people from differing backgrounds made him question many ideas commonly held about Africa. One of the most surprising was his description of Africa as extremely safe. In the months he spent traversing across the continent, he mentioned that he had never been harmed and that his interactions with both police and military were always friendly. In a most surprising incident in Ethiopia, while he was passing through a bad area of the country, the local army troops even offered to give him an armed escort. His experiences contradicted the norm and made people question what they pictured traveling to Africa might be like.

The Ted-Talk and events like it serve an important social function. It gives the student body the ability to engage with individuals that have levels of experience students can’t always find in the classroom. More importantly, it has the ability to create interest in issues that we normally couldn’t care for. Thus, the audience will remember the event not for its information, but for the inspiring passion and drive each speaker possessed.