Call me naïve, call me idealistic, but I believe that bringing knowledge to people can ignite societal change. Being a doctoral researcher in neurosciences, I believe in the importance of bringing science and technology outside of the scope of my ivory tower and beyond the university walls. And as the head of the programming team of TEDxGhent, I definitely try to do so.
In October of last year, I started out with a brand new programming team, all volunteers (like everyone in the TEDxGhent team), who were completely unknown to me at that point. Some of them are students, while others work fulltime, as I do. Sure thing is that all of them have very different professional and personal backgrounds. From the very first meeting, however, I sensed that what they share in common is a profound interest in, and passion for, ideas.
Indeed, they spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) researching and discussing the speakers that were suggested by the TEDxGhent team as a whole (crowd sourcing for the win!). They formulated the ‘TEDxWorthiness criteria’, specifying what they believed to be crucial characteristics for our speakers to have. Yes, our standards were high, as were our aims. This now makes me confident to say that every speaker has a ‘unique’ story that could only be told by this very person.
As a programming team, we did of course encounter our share of difficulties. For one, we experienced that female ‘TEDxWorthy’ speakers are harder to find (and tend to decline more easily). We are still unsure at this moment if our TEDxWorthiness criteria are misogynic (which I dare to doubt), if women are less inclined to climb a stage, or if female ideas are less present in (our) public awareness.
In the past few months, I have also often read in newspapers how my generation lacks clear values in life and boasts with a sense of entitlement and narcissism. At the same time, however, I saw my team members grow into the roles they gradually picked up in the team, unconditionally investing their time for the love of ideas. And luckily for me, they all proved to have their own crucial, indispensible and very compatible skills. I cannot say differently than that I’m proud of them.
So in one week time, we will invite our audience to ‘bathe’ in the ideas we gathered for them. By now, our speakers are professionally trained in public speaking by our terrific coaching team. We hope they’ll inspire you to be the change you want to see in this world, as our speaker Bruno Pieters would say. They are ready. And we are too.
See you next Saturday, 22nd of June.