Between our team, speakers, audience members, and volunteers, every person at our annual conference plays a part in facilitating an amazing experience. The countless details we obsess over could never come together without the passionate individuals who attend and work on TEDxFoggyBottom to discuss ideas worth spreading in our community. Two of the volunteers at our 2017 conference, In Metamorphosis, are now full-time members of our team. As our volunteer application opens up to the GW undergraduate community, we thought we would have them share their day-of-event volunteer experiences and discuss what inspired them to take part in the creation of TEDxFoggyBottom: Fear Itself.
Ethan | Volunteer Photographer for "In Metamorphosis"
Last year, I decided I wanted to volunteer to help photograph the 2017 conference because I thought it would be a great opportunity to start getting involved with TEDxFoggyBottom. When the day of the conference finally came, I arrived at Lisner Auditorium as everyone was putting the finishing touches on presentations, stage design and tech production. As I watched the team, I was inspired by how involved and invested everyone was in making the conference the best it could be, and their passion was expressed throughout the day. It was obvious that this was something they all cared about, but the most astonishing fact was that they were all students just like me. This was really motivating to see. A full year's work was about to unfold on stage and in the exhibits, and my job was to capture all the excitement.
As a photographer, I was running around Lisner to get good shots of the talks and the Marvin Center for the breakout sessions. Even though I was maneuvering the aisles looking for different angles to get the best pictures, I was able to hear from almost every single speaker that day, which was pretty cool. My favorite moment from that day was being right up in the first row when Jinahie was giving her talk. Not only did I get some pretty awesome pictures, but it was so cool to be front and center, listening to her inspiring talk. That was the moment I realized how glad I was to have volunteered to help work the conference.
Sidra | General Volunteer for "In Metamorphosis"
Like a lot of people, I used my time in high school watching motivational TED Talks while I procrastinated doing my homework. Last year, I found out I could volunteer with an organization that aided this procrastination so I thought: "why not!?" Waking up at 7am is no fun for any college student, but as cliché as it may sound, I’m glad we had that early start because I got the opportunity to see the conference from the very start of the day to the very end. Watching the talks was fun too because I felt like I had a backstage pass, seeing the ins and outs of what it actually took to pull it off. I spent most of my time in the Marvin Center, where the interactive exhibits were and guided attendees as they walked around during the break out sessions. I answered lots of interesting questions, but more importantly I got to watch the attendees engage with the well thought out exhibits that centered around issues of gender identity, evolution, magic, and more. Over and over people told us how impressed they were and how much they were enjoying the conference itself. Although I wasn’t responsible for putting it together, I still felt a sense of pride in just helping out.
The day was full of a lot of running around, but it was a lot more than that. Despite the panicked faces and the nerves, the atmosphere around me was unexplainable. It was exceedingly clear that everyone involved in making the day possible was extremely passionate about what they were doing and that they were set on making sure that the conference lived up to, and even exceeded, everyone’s expectations. Honestly, that dedication was really inspiring and made me want to get even more involved. Although I was exhausted at the end of volunteering, I told myself that very day that somehow, someway I was going to be on the TEDxFoggyBottom team next semester, and here I am.
Our 2018 volunteer application is open to GW undergraduate students till Friday 3/25, and can be found here.
If you are interested in attending our event, you can find information about the conference, tickets, speakers, and our theme here.