Two VCU students featured on TEDx’s Youtube

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Katie Farthing, Contributing Writer 

TEDXTalks recently posted two VCU students, Cynthia Ong and Madeline Narkinsky, on their YouTube Channel, which has over 36 million subscribers. 

TEDxVCU has never had a talk published by TEDx, until this year. 

TED Conferences is a nonprofit organization that believes in “ideas worth spreading.” TEDx is an independently organized event that brings a similar TED-like experience. It focuses on local areas and issues important to community members, according to the TED website.

TEDxVCU is a student-driven organization that hosts TEDx events, including live talks, performances and salons. It highlights many important issues and perspectives from the local community, according to the TEDx website. 

Both talks have been posted on TEDx’s YouTube page as of Sept. 1. 

Cynthia Ong is a second-year medical student at VCU who delivered a talk titled “Redefining How We Love.” Her talk focused on learning how to love and changing standards of love and boundaries. 

Going through a breakup, therapy, taking the time to step back and do some self-reflection and realizing how much her parents shaped her were the largest factors in choosing love as the talk topic, according to Ong. 

“Who we are is not defined by what we give to other people, rather our identity is defined by our values and how we choose to live in accordance with those values,” Ong said. 

Ong’s video has over 30,000 views and 94 comments. The comments are mainly positive and many thank Ong for putting into words their shared experiences. 

“This has been such a journey for me and if I could even impact one person from watching this, it would have made it worth it,” Ong said. 

Madeline Narkinsky is an undergraduate student at VCU who delivered “The Autistic Dialect.” They spoke about the differences in communication between autistic people and neurotypicals, and how that can impact lives. 

“As the world becomes smaller, being able to speak with someone who speaks differently than you isn’t just a plus, but a requirement,” Narkinsky said during their talk. 

Narkinsky said they made sure to keep a lighthearted tone while speaking and thought that the humor in their talk was the reason it was picked up by TEDx. 

“If you want people to agree with you, you can’t insult them. You can’t demand pity. You have to sit there and be like, ‘If you laugh at this joke you agree with me,’” Narkinsky said.

“The Autistic Dialect” has over 40,000 views and 200 comments. Many people in the comments were touched by Narkinsky’s talk, most thanking them for such an impactful message on empathy and communication. 

“These talks have been highlighted as ones we’d like to notify to our subscribers, as they represent valuable and timely ideas for our global audience,” TEDx stated in an email to VCU. 

VCU students plan the events, and all speakers and attendees are from the VCU community, according to Abi Simmons, the communications lead of TEDxVCU. 

“I think it’s important to lift up different people in the community not just for other VCU students to hear it, but also for the global community to hear it as well,” Simmons said. 

This year, TEDxVCU is focusing on the longevity of the organization. The organization was also approved for their 100+ license, meaning events can now go beyond 100 persons, according to Simmons. The team hopes to host more events and encourage more attendees to grow the organization. 

TEDxVCU hosts one main event every spring. This year, they are hoping to add three salons, which are smaller events to watch and discuss TED talks, according to Simmons.  

Both talks can be found on TEDxVCU’s website and Instagram, as well as the TEDxTalks YouTube page

Correction: All TEDx talks are required to be published to TEDx YouTube channel. This is the first time TEDxVCU speakers are being highlighted by TEDx directly to their 36 million subscribers.

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