“Have you ever heard of a TED talk?” is a phrase that I have come to know and love because I’m constantly asking this same question to my friends, family, and random people walking through Tate Plaza (UGA Student Center) when they ask what TEDxUGA is when I promote the annual event.
If someone had asked me this same question about 8 months ago, I would have replied with something along the lines of “I’ve heard of them, and they’re pretty cool.” But today I can say that TED talks have shaped my college career thus far. A few weeks before the start of the fall semester, I saw a picture on Twitter. It was an advertisement for a class called TEDxUGA, and I thought “why not?” So I signed up.
Walking into class on the first Tuesday of the school year, I was scared as hell because I had no clue what I was getting myself into, and I was especially nervous when I discovered that I was the only freshman taking the class. Soon though, my initial worries became irrelevant as our class became a family. Our work wasn’t traditional since most of it stemmed from helping presenters prepare their talks.
I watched tons of talks featuring some of the most interesting people that I had ever heard speak. Their stories taught life lessons, gave insights into the world, and sparked interests in the minds of thousands. I thought it was awesome. Since taking the class, I have learned that every experience, every story leads to something larger than we could imagine.
I’ve heard stories that have changed the way I think about people and events, and I’ve realized that there’s a TED talk for almost anything. Want to know how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge got started? There’s a TED talk for that (Nancy Frates, “Meet the mom who started the ice bucket challenge). Ever wonder what it’s like to be the son of a terrorist? There’s a TED talk for that too (Zak Ebrahim, “I am the son of a terrorist. Here’s how I chose peace”). All around the world, people have stories and ideas worth spreading.
Our stories shape our lives, and lucky for me, my story is just beginning. Since taking the TEDxUGA class, I’ve met incredible people and have been given amazing opportunities. I’ve become an intern for the New Media Institute in Grady College, I’ve been given the chance to write for this website, and I’ve made friends that are sure to last.
I hope that my experience with TEDxUGA will give me useful media skills, but I hope more that it should benefit me in the wisdom I will gain from those working with the program, and maybe one day I’ll have a story worth telling on the TED stage.
Focus on the lessons learned from each experience, good and bad, because you never know what you can gain from a story. Oh, and always pay attention to advertisements on Twitter, because you never know where they might lead.