TEDxAustinCollege 2021: Confluence

Ida Green Nations Theatre
Students wait for the TEDx talks to begin in the Ida Green Nation Theatre.

Written by Elizabeth Funderburk, Staff Writer

On Saturday, September 25th, Austin College hosted its 6th annual TEDx talks, hosted by theatre professor Dr. Kirk Everist. Six speakers were invited, with two being current students and four who are alumni. This year’s theme was Confluence, defined as “an act or process of merging.” Topics discussed ranged from autism awareness to the value of time and space in creative pursuits. 

As they arrived at 8:30 AM, students were given a lanyard, a sticker, and a mug, and could hear the Roo Band playing outside of Ida Green. Upon walking into the Nation Theatre, they were seated with their peers in a way that allowed for (some) social distancing and listened to the stories that were told. Each speaker: Mariam Abeje ‘22, Kate Kahle ‘23, Laura J. Lawson ‘10, Ann Crews Melton ‘03, Ting Lan Sun ‘87, and Kelly Yarbrough ‘09, had “ideas worth spreading.”

Ideas certainly were spread: anyone from anywhere could listen to the speakers through the power of technology, making this a truly worldwide experience. In addition to the idea of TEDx being a global event, the speakers themselves had traveled to many places, from China to Ethiopia to Kansas, and of course, the one place they had in common: Austin College.

During intermission, students had the opportunity to participate in a competition to win a T-shirt: winners received their prize by being in the top 10 on the leaderboard for answering questions about the talks, or by sharing an answer to an open-ended question. After around 30 minutes, intermission ended and the talks resumed, ending at around 11 AM.

Students had mostly positive things to say about the experience. Sophomore Anna Fisher said that “I found the TEDx talks to be really informative, but also entertaining. I especially liked that I was able to hear about cultures and experiences different from my own.” 

Overall, TEDx continues to be a significant event at Austin College, where students can learn from their classmates and alumni about a variety of topics. Anyone interested in giving a TEDx talk can apply at https://www.austincollege.edu/tedx-speaker-nomination-form/ for the opportunity to be selected to do one of their own next year.

All photo credits (and photo titles) go to Heidi Rushing.

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