Monday, October 29


For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may know that I gave a talk at the TEDxTU event last Thursday evening.

Photo courtesy of my cousin Hannah's Instagram 
The “TED” in that string of letters stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design” and refers to the world-renowned nonprofit “devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” The most famous and accessible feature of TED is its TEDTalks—short talks by various people about their ideas—which can be viewed for free online.

The “x” means that this event was independently organized; that is, the actual TED organization did not help or monitor the planning or organization of this event beyond initial approval and instruction. And the TU, of course, stands for Tulane University. A group of highly dedicated Tulane students put on this entire event by themselves, and it was an incredible success.

I got an email at the beginning of the summer asking me to apply to speak at the TEDxTU event planned for the fall. I was excited for the chance to get involved even before I was actually a student at Tulane! In order to apply, I had to make a rough draft video generally about what I would include in my final talk. Shortly after receiving my invitation to apply to TEDxTU, the director of the program I was working at over the summer asked me to talk to the kids there about my video and what has come of it (some of you might remember this story from one of my previous blog posts). To kill two birds with one stone, I had that talk filmed, edited it, and submitted it to the TEDxTU organizers, explaining that I would tailor my actual talk to more closely fit the TED event.

It was a long wait before I heard back about my application, but about a month or so after school started, I finally received another email: I was in! I had to attend two rehearsals before the event so the organizers could check my progress, but besides that, I was on my own. I cut down my speech from the summer to about a third its original length and altered it to more appropriately fit the occasion. I went to two rehearsals and got some valuable feedback from the organizers as well as from other TEDxTU speakers. After cutting some here, changing some there, my speech was finally ready—now I just had to memorize it!
Because I had given the speech several times (over the summer and in the TEDxTU rehearsals) and had read it to myself many more times than that, it wasn't too difficult to memorize. Still, when October 25 rolled around, I was nervous. The event was hosted in Dixon Hall on Tulane's campus, the main theatre for concerts, musicals and other large productions. I arrived early on the day to practice, and I was ready to go.

The event went swimmingly. Almost five hundred people from Tulane, New Orleans and elsewhere attended. I was the seventh of twelve speakers, with actual TED videos interspersed throughout. The other speakers were excellent, and as soon as the official videos of the event are posted online, I will put them on my blog so you all can see them. The man who spoke right after me said something that really rang true: “There have been so many interesting talks tonight, I forgot to get nervous!”

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I was speaking alongside men and women who had started their own businesses and non-profits, who had been a part of rebuilding post-Katrina New Orleans, who help New Orleans' homeless every day. I was so honored to share my story and everything I've learned from it with so many people. I hope to remain involved in the TEDxTU organizers on campus, so that I can help Tulane continue to share ideas worth spreading for years to come.

Update: You can view the unofficial video of my talk here. Sorry about the vertical format, it was taken with an iPhone! I will post the official video as soon as it is available.

Update Update: You can now view the OFFICIAL video of my talk here! (The link above will no longer work.)

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