TEDx's mission is spreading worthwhile ideas to local communities around the globe. TEDx events are organized by curious individuals who seek to discover new, engaging stories and spark conversations in their own community. In RDFZ Chao Yang, a group of aspiring students organized the first TEDx event. We are honored to interview two of the main organizers, Henry Li and Wenhao Jiang.
Q: What inspired you to organize this TEDx event?
W: When I was a sophomore in RDFZ Chao Yang, one of the senior students was invited to give a speech at a TEDx event in Beijing Royal School. I was shocked and felt disappointed that RDFZ didn’t have such a platform for our own students to share their ideas and work. That’s when I first got an idea to organize this event. As I started to learn more about my friends, I found that many of them had compelling stories and unique thoughts that were worth sharing. For example, one of my friends had a problem with her weight and she was in agony. I thought offering this stage to someone like her may help them build up their confidence and inspire others. The third reason for my organizing this event was that I wanted to bring more color to students’ life and, at the same time, enhance my organizational skills.
Q: Have you come across any obstacles while organizing TEDx?
Henry: We got help from the school. Ms. Stacy also gave us invaluable advice. For instance, she suggested we cut a whole TEDx event, which is about five to six hours, into three parts. This helps the audience relax and focus throughout the speeches, and this also gives more preparation time for the speakers. The school has also kindly offered us the auditorium. Nevertheless, we still have had lots of difficulties. No one in our team has ever done this before. When we designed our poster, there was a spelling mistake that nobody noticed until the poster was printed out. And for us, this was such a horrifying mistake because we think it’s disrespectful towards the TED organization if you get their name wrong.
Also, I found that students don’t really know what we do in these events, so most of them wouldn’t come since there was a basketball match going on in the gym at the same time. With not much of audience, I felt really sorry for the speakers. I think I let them down.
Q: How did you manage to invite someone out of our school? How did you contact Dahlia Ducreay?
Henry: We posted our invitation on all kinds of websites: TieBa, Weibo, WeChat channel, WeChat Moments. In fact, it was she who contacted us first. She found that we have this stage in our school, and she lives near…
Q: Did she expect a pay? Or…
Henry: No, no, she just volunteered to come here and simply share her insight on climate change and her other stories. She didn’t ask us to give her anything.
Q: What have you gained from this event?
W: Well, my dream has come true. I felt disappointed when I saw our senior students going to other schools to give speeches. And when I was organizing it, I was like, “Wow, this is the real thing. I’m actually doing it”. After successfully holding TEDx, I’m more experienced and confident to organize other events.
Q: Any suggestions for other students who may want to hold their own events in school?
W: Some freshmen asked me how I did it and I shared my experience with them. Actually, participating in a real event is the best way to learn. At first, I thought it would be easy to organize this kind of event. It should be around those speakers, right? Basic things like choosing a speaker should be easy, but that’s not the case. Booking an auditorium, setting up the stage, choosing a theme and topic - you have to be careful about these things and think them through to avoid mistakes.
Henry: Well, I think it’s really important to fully use our school’s resources. And you have to make a detailed plan ahead. You should understand that, if you want to organize this event, teamwork is essential. Then you need to communicate with teachers who will also give you huge help. But don’t rely on them. Try your best first. If you encounter any problems that you can’t solve, ask them.
These two inspiring young boys have shared their precious insight and experience with us. We are looking forward to more students starting up their influential activities on our campus to enrich our school life.