Irvine Talks

Parashar Bharadwaj, Staff Writer

Silently huddled on the grass patch surrounding a dimmed high school amphitheater, students and parents intently listened to the thoughtful, genuine stories of high school students from all across Irvine. The fifth edition of Irvine Talks, an event where students reflect on the past and hope for the future through a variety of self-expression methods from music to speech, took place on April 2 with the theme, “Pieces of Me.”


Held at Portola High School, students engaged in performances surrounding topics such as anxiety, sexuality and disabilities. Five Northwood students took the stage over the weekend: Layan Alaseel (11), Christine Kuftedijan (11), Delaney Wong (12), Shinhye Park (12) and Amithi Ravi (12).


“The best part about performing was knowing that I have a chance to share my journey growing up and the challenges I’ve faced, especially doing so with my best friend,” Alasseel said, who performed with Kuftedijan. “Having someone with a similar story showed me that I wasn’t alone and that someone was there for me, and that was an amazing feeling.”


    The organizers of the event had the sole idea of inclusivity in mind; they aimed to allow stories that often go unnoticed in the hustle of daily life to receive the recognition they deserve. 


    “Irvine Talks is about celebrating vulnerability and individuality across all six of our IUSD high schools,” Irvine Talks publicist junior Ayushi Das said. “It brings our community together for a heartwarming night of storytelling, and allows us all to pause our fast-paced lives for a few hours and find comfort in other people’s journeys.”


    The event ran smoothly, with initial musical showings from Northwood juniors Howard Wu and Noelle Rhee. Performing songs like “Blessed” and “Best Part” by Daniel Caesar, “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder and “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, the musicians felt that their performances helped set the mood. 


    “Since we went before the event, we kind of made everyone relaxed,” Wu said. “Nobody knew what to expect unless they had been to this show, and I would say all of the musical performances were nice and chill, setting a soft prelude to something heavy later.”

Credit for the successful event also goes to the people behind the scenes: students from Irvine high schools who worked hard to plan the event after school on weekdays as well as weekends. 


    “Every decision was challenging because we wanted everything to be as perfect as possible,” Das said. “The outdoor event came together beautifully in the end. It made the countless early morning and late night hours of work worth it.”


    Irvine Talks Chapter VI will take place next year, continuing to inspire and represent students from all across the city.