This year's TEDxSFU theme: Shift
August 24, 2017

My Shift: A TEDxSFU Story

by Renée McMillen  

The views and opinions expressed in SFU Public Square's blogs are those of the authors, and they do not necessarily reflect the official position of Simon Fraser University or SFU Public Square, or any other affiliated institutions in any way.

My first look at a TED talk was through my older brother. To this day he is always in the know with technology and is constantly engaged in current events. Fast forward 10 years and I still remember the exact TED talk; Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson. As an introduction to TED, it engaged me like no other lecture, speaker series, stage performance or documentary had. This is because TED talks are unique. They open our eyes to new ideas and connect us to speakers we otherwise would have had no opportunity to hear from. This experience also showed me how communities around the globe were interested to learn from others in an array of topics, and this alone had me hooked.

It never occurred to me that I would get an opportunity to get involved with TED; however, it was only in January that I learned the university holds their very own TEDx conference every year. Not only have I had the opportunity to meet passionate, like-minded and driven SFU students and alumni, but I have also had the privilege to work with them to shape this year’s conference. TEDx, for those that don’t know the difference, are independent TED-like events organized by volunteers from their local communities. Their goal is to spark deep conversation, build connection and community and, like TED, were created with the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.”

In February, the directors sat down for the first of many Sunday evenings together to decide on a theme. Like many who spoke on the stage of TEDx and TED talks before us, we all had an opportunity to contribute ideas of our own. We had to ask ourselves, what did we want to say? From the beginning, shift was a strong contender. The concept was open to interpretation and made us think about what it meant to us individually. Our hope is that shift will reflect the vision of SFU and resonate with our audience like it has with us.

To me, TED means so much more than a series of videos by some big names on obscure topics. It’s that innovative concept that brings together everyday people to speak and listen about topics that otherwise might not come up. It’s a world stage where necessary conversations are shared communally.

As a creative student, I felt misunderstood by my teachers, experienced frustration with lower grades in left-minded, academic studies and it was the arts that engaged me most. It resonated with me to hear someone value creativity academically. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk still impacts my life today, a decade after seeing his performance. If you’ve never experienced a TEDx event, TEDxSFU is the perfect opportunity to do so. Join us, and experience the same shift within you as I did listening to Sir Ken Robinson.

Renée McMillen 
Design Coordinator, SFU Public Square


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