Time at TEDWomen

My time at TEDWomen can be summarized into one word: happiness. Though important and sometimes difficult and dark situations were discussed, the optimism that radiated through San Francisco, through the simulcast, and through the theater, reminded me of how lucky I was to have been there.

I landed in my home state of California late on Monday, my mind on how I could be my complete self here. There were no pretenses, no expectations besides the extremely high ones I set for myself. I was representing the people and the organization I’d worked two years on, and I was incredibly proud to do so.

Tuesday was dedicated to workshops for TEDx organizers. This was an amazing opportunity, and I was grateful to be there as one of many getting the chance to talk to TEDsters from around the world, discussing these talks and how we could each expand our own events.  I met representatives from TEDxMadrid and TEDxPortofSpain who were insightful and wildly experienced and professional. They were adult organizers and had to allocate their time to jobs and other obligations and commitments – the other student organizers and I were able to completely immerse ourselves in all things TEDx. The passion and energy that I found matched mine and that was comforting. These were people from across the globe that somehow felt exactly how I did about the only thing that we had in common- TED. People were there from Australia, India, Thailand, Mexico, France, and even New Jersey, but we all cared deeply about the event, what it represented, and how it will pave the way for talks to come.

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This female-focused event operated under the theme “It’s About Time” with great care taken to address topics ranging from cyber-bullying to intersectionality to sex. One of the most memorable talks was from an LGBT couple in the second session of the first day, which was dedicated to duet talks (It’s About Our Time).  

Tiq, a transman, and Kim Milan, a genderqueer woman, not only gave an impeccable TED talk about their relationship with each other and the LGBT community, but brought more love than anyone else I saw on the stage. They loved each other, and we loved them. I got the opportunity to see them between sessions and several other attendees and I simply gave them hugs because words could not express how bright they made us feel. Peggy Orenstein’s talk, which analyzed a woman’s right to sexual pleasure was also so interesting.  Historically, the concept of women enjoying sex was plagued with negative connotations and double standards, even now people have conflicting views on the matter, so it was fascinating to listen to Orenstein arrive at her conclusions.

Usually, my favorite part of TED events are not the talks, but the ability to create connections with the people there, and this was no exception. We sat in the Golden Gate park, ate delicious food, and played games with our new friends. We could talk politics or love or life or on nothing of importance at all and everything was perfect. The week went by and I knew the event was going to end, but I didn’t want it to be over. I didn’t want to go in the theater because I didn’t want to leave, but at the same time I couldn’t wait to go home and work hard.

Thank you to everyone who helped me get to this event and everyone who has been a part TEDxFoggyBottom’s growth. See you in 2017!