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Passion, Optimism, and Action: US Students Host TEDxYouth@The Nueva School
Dianne Willoughby
Upper School Nueva Students pose with the TEDx Youth logo

“Creating the Future,” theTEDxYouth@TheNuevaSchool event, was held at Bay Meadows on Sunday, March 25. Six presenters shared perspectives on the future of medicine, big data, healthcare, artificial intelligence, astrophysics, and animal rights with approximately 75 attendees.

The presentations by the inspiring slate of speakers epitomized TED’s mission: “To focus on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately, the world.” Speakers included Irene Au, former head of multiple design teams at Yahoo and Google, and operating design partner at Khosla Ventures; Sean Hennessey, longtime hospital consultant and currently chief planning officer at Stanford School of Medicine; Jason Kilar, former Amazon executive and Hulu CEO; Raja GuhaThakurta, professor of Astronomy/Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and founder of SPHERE Network; Lori Marino, neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and intelligence; and Roni Zeiger, former chief health strategist at Google and CEO of Smart Patients.

TEDx is an initiative of TED Conference, with the “x” denoting an independently organized event. TEDxYouth@TheNuevaSchool was fully planned and hosted by a team of upper school students who began pursuing their TEDx license last spring. “This was absolutely a team effort, with each person bringing their individual specialties,” said Hanna Z., who, along with Eric J., led the team this year. “Our team came together so beautifully, and I’m grateful to everyone who made this successful: Natalie A., Alex C., Tyler G., Irene M., Maddie P., Amit S., Nikhil S., Morgan T., Jake V., and Donya Z.

“Our ‘Creating the Future’ theme was perfect because it allowed us to bring together interesting speakers in many fields and was appealing to many ages,” added Hanna. Two Nueva middle school students, Sasha G. and Kate J., were intrigued by the posters advertising the event and attended it together. They loved Irene Au’s talk on artificial intelligence. “She really gave a great history of technology, computers, and languages and a glimpse of possible next goals. “I’ve seen inventions like drones piloted by brain waves at the Maker Faire,” said Sasha. Kate added, “We can already see the future where we won’t have to use our hands.”

Nueva second grader Altay E., a budding marine biologist, was thrilled by Lori Marino’s Whale Sanctuary Project and offered to help her. “I’m excited about the possibility of a place for whales and dolphins to live,” said Altay, seeming relieved. “I didn’t know these captive animals were under so much mental pressure that they would kill their trainer. It makes me feel frustrated and bad, and I want to help Lori with her idea.”

With ideas sparking connections between people at the event, Altay shared his passion to clean Earth’s oceans with Lori. He’s currently working with classmates to organize a “no plastic week” at Nueva in an effort to stem the flow of chemical pollutants from recyclable plastics into our oceans. His commitment comes through when he speaks. “I have a desire to do something about the problem [of ocean pollution] and a ‘no plastic week’ would make a huge difference,” he said. “Imagine your kitchen sink is overflowing. Now we’re just using buckets to take the water out, but the first thing we have to do is to turn off the knob! We have to stop adding pollution to the ocean, then we have to clean it out.”

TEDxYouth@TheNuevaSchool presenters shared their commitment to education by answering student calls to participate. “It has been such a great pleasure to engage with the students,” said Lori. In sharing her story, Lori wanted students to know that they can advocate for what they care about in the world. In closing she told them, “No matter what you are studying, what you are good at, or what part of the world you want to change, you can apply your own talents to create the world you want to live in. And don’t take 'no' for an answer.”

Enjoy the TEDxYouth@TheNuevaSchool program.

By Dianne Willoughby, Editorial Manager

April 4, 2018

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