By Lily Mura ’23
On March 7th, Earlham College hosted its first-ever TEDx event. The event included seven speakers sharing their ideas centered on the theme of “Redefining the Defined.”
The process of organizing this event started last year when Senior Junior Alexis Sanchez Prado approached Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Belén Villareal about sponsoring the event. Villareal and Prado worked on requesting a license over the following summer and found out their application had been approved in September.
Then came the process of assembling the Tedx Earlham team. Around 30 students were chosen to participate in a number of sub-committees that would collaborate for the following months to make the event happen. The curator team took over 40 applications from Earlham students and Alumni and narrowed them down to 20 speakers that would audition for a chance to speak at the event.
“TEDx guidelines specify that you’re looking at ideas not people’s public speaking skills or anything like that and so we focused on ideas,” explained Villareal. At the end of the process, 7 speakers including Earlham students Emma Milner-Gorvine 21’, Lan Phan 20’, Derek Tan 20’, Jus Tavcar 22”; Earlham Profesor Emmett Smith; Richmond community member Pat Foreman; and Earlham Alum Josh Friedburg ’11 were chosen to share their ideas at the March 7th event. “Ultimately TEDx enabled me to tell people about my passion. It was great because it gave me an opportunity to raise my voice and improve my public speaking skills,” said Tavcar about his experience.
It seems the organization of the event was a high point for the speakers. “The kindness, relaxed atmosphere, and professionalism demonstrated by the people behind the event really made me feel calm and motivated,” explained Tavcar. Lan Phan echoed this sentiment by saying that “the true faces of this TEDx@EarlhamCollege event were the organizers, from coordinating the logistics to raising funds, to creating promotional materials, and to giving feedback to the speakers.”
It was decided that a club would be formed to continue this event. The convenors of the club have not yet been decided but the current plan is to host a TEDx event every two years. Villareal is not sure if she will be the faculty sponsor every time and wants to invite other faculty members to sponsor the event. Even if this event does not continue into the next year it still left an impact on those who participated. Phan explains that “as a senior who was about to graduate in May and the fact that the decision of moving to online courses was announced only a week after, being part of the event gave me a sense of closure.”