Students raise awarness, organize first TEDxVCU

Austin Walker
Contributing Writer

Members of various community-oriented student organizations presented at a TEDx sponsored event last week. The TEDxVCU event will take place Nov. 15 and expect a crowd of 1,500. Photo By Ana Gonzalez

TEDxVCU has organized a series of events leading up to the grand presentation in November which will feature speakers from both VCU and around the world.

TEDxVCU will have a collection of speakers ranging from musicians to professors talking to an estimated crowd of more than 1,500. The organizers have been preparing for the event since August 2013, and have held smaller events leading up to the actual TEDx presentation on Nov. 15.

To satisfy curious students, a community-oriented Non-Governmental organization event was held last Thursday, Sep. 18. NGOs came to the VCU Commons Theater to raise awareness about their causes and concerns.

“We wanted the night to be kind of a showcase of the more obscure student organizations on campus,” said Grace Cummings, lead production coordinator.

VCU houses 548 student organizations, and five selected groups sent a speaker to the stage to give details about their accomplishments and goals.

One  guest, Paul Howell, is a member of Engineers Without Borders, a student organization that aims to engineer solutions for poorer communities worldwide.  Howell travelled to Tanzania this past summer to repair medical equipment with the help of the non-profit group Engineering World Health, who share similar goals and work with other NGOs.

Richmond-based groups will be presenting as well. The Richmond YWCA, which aims to eliminate misogyny and racism in their community, had a speaker come to the stage and present their solutions to domestic violence in and around the city.

UNICEF, an international organization dedicated to aiding children locally and internationally, followed shortly after them.  UNICEF has a center in Richmond that works closely with the local government.

The actual TEDxVCU event will feature nearly 20 speakers from all over the world. Independent TED talks are growing in popularity, with an increasing number of universities seeking recognition and respect for attracting highly educated speakers.

“It’s very challenging trying to put this scale of an event together,” said Dylan Halpern, lead designer of the TEDxVCU team.

A special committee selected the speakers at this year’s event based on their quality ideas and speaking abilities. Students submitted video applications and participated in open mic events to showcase their thoughts, while non-students would often approach the team asking to present.

“That’s how we do it for the greater community,” said Elliot Roth, sponsorship coordinator.

The entirety of the event revolves around that theme of community. TED Talks have always served to spread ideas and highlight injustices, and locally organized TEDx events are often more relevant to a locality.

“We knew this was something that needed to happen to break down the barriers between the schools and improve upon our existing conditions here,” Roth said.

The event will be held Nov. 15 at 10am, and the first 200 VCU students receive free admission.

“It’s going to be an amazing day and it’s going to be an amazing experience for all of us,” Roth concluded.

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