By Jarod Golub
Sophomore Spencer Michalski has always enjoyed TED Talks, however, the TEDxUMD event in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union Nov. 29 exceeded his expectations.
“I came because I’ve always been interested in watching TED Talks at home … but coming into the presentations I didn’t really know what to expect, ” the computer science major said. “But as you empathize, you start to connect more to what the person is saying and you start to understand what they’re going through, their experiences and their desires. I think it I gained a lot of perspective about how other people feel on campus.”
This was exactly the goal of TEDxUMD’s first general body event according to organization president Helen Liu.
“We really wanted to create a platform for students at UMD to be thoughtful and conscious about the social issues that surround them in the community and in the environment,” the senior marketing and information systems double major said.
The event consisted of three student presenters who used their time to inform students about different social issues with a discussion following each presentation. Presentation topics included the stigma around mental health, communication trends in society and the power of empathy as seen through Unsung Heroes of UMD.
While the presentations were not linked, the theme of the night — social changes — did carry over from speech to speech.
During her “Redesigning Communication” presentation, junior Sama Shah encouraged students to turn their “why can’t I” situations into “how can I” ones as a way of changing the way they think and interact with other people.
Sophomore Jina Park, president of Unsung Heroes of UMD, used the event as “an opportunity to spread our organizations message” by showing off Unsung Heroes of UMD social media posts and discussing ways to show more appreciation for the workers at this university.
“The Unsung Heroes of UMD presentation was really inspiring,” Michalski said. “There’s a woman who works at the diner that I talk to occasionally, and I’m going to get her some kind of present for Christmas. I’m going to say ‘hi’ to more people, and I’m going to be more mindful and empathetic of all different demographics on campus.”
For TEDxUMD, this event will serve as a springboard for future student-centric events. Liu was able to use the event to “learn what issues that students really care about” so the organization can focus on them more at their next events.
“TEDxUMD really focuses on one big licensed conference each year in the spring, but we really felt that we wanted to engage the UMD community,” Liu said. “There are a lot of people who do love TED videos and TEDx videos, so we wanted to create a stronger community by doing these general member meetings like this one and the ones we have planned.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.
Jarod Golub is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.