Whether the attendees had a spare evening to indulge their curiosity, were brought by the allure of extra credit or were simply there to support a friend, the crowd outside the Northwood theater eagerly awaited the speeches of TEDxIrvine on Oct. 14. From 6-8 p.m., student speakers used their spotlight to advocate for the issues they were passionate about, with topics ranging from misogyny in film to the future of cryptocurrency.
A live student band set the backdrop for casual chatter as attendees filed into the venue. It was the most packed that the theater had been in almost two years.
“I think it’s important that so many students attended and actually listened to the speeches,” junior Matthew Lim said. “Especially because these aren’t topics that are covered in school, it was cool to just even just learn a little more.”
Organized by student TED-Ed highschool clubs in Irvine, including Northwood’s TED-Ed club headed by seniors Hari Sreeramagiri and Jenny Zhang, the stage provided the chance for students to present at a city-wide event.
There were a total of nine speakers, seven of whom were Northwood students. Among them included sophomores Mia Lee, Jay Parikh, Jeet Parikh and juniors Sumedha Chalasani, Layan Alassel, Anthara Thirupathi and Ananya Badari.
“I auditioned after seeing an Instagram advertisement and hearing about it from my friends,” Lee said. “I already do speech and debate in school so I thought it was a good opportunity to share my ideas with the Irvine community.”
For many of the speakers, their topics were influenced by personal experiences, such as Alassel, who spoke on Islamophobia and drew on the discrimination her mother faced after 9/11.
Speakers also learned some things themselves as they researched their topics to prepare for their talks. Thirupathi explained how she started finding ways to prioritize herself after realizing she held the same problematic mindsets that she researched for toxic positivity. In another case, Bardari anticipated highlighting the errors of the Indian government regarding farmer protests but went another way after delving deeper into the subject.
“I went in with a set opinion and thesis, but as I researched I found that it was not at all what I expected,” Badari said. “It ended up being more about the media simplifying the issue. I wanted to not just give my opinion but to talk about both sides and inform them about what went wrong.”
Much of the event’s success can be attributed to the teamwork behind the scenes.
“The speakers and board members were so supportive,” Thirupathi said. “We all bonded really quickly which made the event so much more fun.”
The next event hosted by Northwood TED-Ed may be a second city-wide speaker series in the spring, but for now you can find them every other Tuesday at lunch in room 1223.