T.E.D.x Teen: A Day of Social Leadership in Soho

As a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 and the widespread use of technology, awareness of global problems seem ever more heightened for today’s youth—in America and around the world.  Simultaneously, teens have a fundamental right to preserve their childhood: the right to play, if you will, while they forge their identities and their place in this “flattened world.”  By virtue of their age, teens do not pretend to have all the answers; yet, do members of this age group, filled with creativity and an inherent instinct about what does and does not fit, share their own type of wisdom—one that does not necessarily come with old age?  The third T.E.D.x Teen Conference in New York City, sponsored by the We Are Family Foundation, attempted to answer that question with inspiring live and recorded presentations made by teen and young adult leaders in the T.E.D. (or Technology, Entertainment, and Design) format.  To those unfamiliar with T.E.D., it is a non-profit organization committed to “Ideas Worth Spreading.”  (You can learn more about the parent organization here.)  On March 31, 2012, I attended my third T.E.D.x Teen conference where I learned about these ideas. (Learn more about the T.E.D.x Teen in Soho as well as listen to some of past conferences here.)

The conference took place in the packed auditorium of the Scholastic building in Soho, NYC. While waiting for the first session of speeches to begin, the audience was able to observe a rotating and ever-growing display of the Tweets relating to the conference on the big screen at the front of the auditorium. The session was officially opened by the day’s host, actress and charity worker Monique Coleman. This session featured speeches by inspiring young people including the thirteen-year-old math prodigy Jacob Barnett, the self-trained opera singer Mteto Maphoyi, and the fifteen-year-old fashion blogger and magazine editor Tavi Gevinson. Following a break during which the conference attendees were able to eat lunch, socialize, and discuss the speeches they had just seen, the second session began, heralding the appearances of and activist Kristen Powers, filmmaker Natalie Warne, and youth activist and advocate for peace Mahmoud Jabari.

Each speaker had their own story to tell—Barnett encouraged us to be aware the importance of thinking instead of simply learning; Gevinson stressed the fact that it’s okay for teens to be “still figuring it out”, and Jabari pointed out the three essential qualities of being a peacemaker: love, understanding, and shared effort. However, all reminded us in some of way of the day’s theme, the wisdom of not knowing, and their stories all served to show us how teens could mold their own form of leadership in order to help improve the world they are inheriting, whether through theater, blogging, or journalism.

My experience at T.E.D.x Teen was a truly invaluable lesson in the power of collaboration as well as the wisdom of not knowing in a world full of risk. I would now like to share with you two quotes from speakers that I found the most memorable and relevant:

As stated by Kristen Powers, “teens can change the world with the proper tools, motivation, and organization.” And as stated by Monique Coleman, “our greatest asset is uncertainty because from that comes courage, from which comes growth and new ideas.”  In terms of our school, the T.E.D.x form of social leadership strikes me as being very similar to the mission of the Center for Leadership. Both seek to harness the considerable power of today’s youth, who can change the world while “still figuring it out”.

–Maria Juran, Staff Writer 


Posted by on April 2, 2012. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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