Just over a year ago now I attended the inaugural TedXSydney event held at the Opera House. Having watched one too many Ted talks throughout my life, it’s become a powerful source of knowledge and inspiration for myself and millions around the world.
Last year was no different. With the main theme of the event based on “Technology and Togetherness.” Two concepts I strongly believe in. Two ideas worth sharing. What was worth noting throughout this day is the diversity of the speakers and the thoughtful curation of food, partners, and subjects. Here are 6 lessons from TedXSydney I believe are worth sharing.
#1: Volunteer Travel
“We are fueling an industry that tears families apart. We need to break the cycle of poverty and keep kids in families.” – Tara Wringler, Cambodian Children’s trust
This one hit close to home as I have volunteered my time to ‘teach English’ in the past. And although the organisation I went through was great, I’m sure that’s not the case around the world and especially in third world countries. But did you know there are 8,000,000 children in orphanages? Did you know that most children who are in orphanages aren’t even orphans? And have you ever noticed that volunteers are located in top tourist spots? Where does this problem begin? Not educating or focusing enough on family care. We need to break the cycle of poverty and keep kids in families.
#2: The power of photography
“Keep traditions alive. Love them and respect them.” – Polani Mohan, photojournalist
Polani Mohan’s journey changed as soon as he saw this photograph of a man and his eagle. His sheer fascination of an ancient civilisation brought him to Ulan Bator, Mongolia as a photojournalist. In the middle of nowhere (literally), he felt enlightened by the ancient tradition and culture between a man and his eagle.
Which got me thinking about the importance of photographers and how powerful one photo can be in conveying a message. Polani was able to tell not only his story, but share with the rest of the world of cultures and traditions that would never have been brought to the light should he have not been there to capture the moments.
#3: Revolution in storytelling
“Hack your brain. Use technology in a way that can make a fundamental difference.” Karen Palmer, Neurogaming
Karen is a parkour fanatic (free movement) who completely changed the direction of her career as she felt the slow death of her mind slowly coming by not utilising her talent the way she knew she wanted to. She eventually got into neurogaming to better understand the brain, help people with ADHD and how we can train our brains so that we better understand ourselves.
#4: There is always hope
“Living in grief, means life is more illuminating. The present moment is where we need to focus on right now.” – Peta Murchison, Mother of a daughter suffering from Batten’s disease, a genetically fatal condition
Peta moved me in such a profounding and hopeful way. She had a daughter with Batten’s disease which is both, a genetic and fatal condition. Throughout her journey of raising awareness for her daughter, a great deal of clarity came over her as the reality of losing her daughter sunk in. But she highlights the importance of humans and emotional connections. The present moment is where we all need to be. We need to focus on right now, because the human spirit is the most important part of our being.
#5: Death and dying of old age
“Age related frailty is not curable.” – Ken Hillman
Ken is a well-respected doctor in the Intensive care unit for UNSW and has treated thousands of patients. Although he has saved many lives, he goes on to discuss the concept of death and dying of old age, naturally and in the comfort of their own homes. Did you know 70% of people who are dying would rather die at home?
Age-related frailty is not curable and people should be allowed to make their own choices with the honesty and support of those around them. He ends the talk with one line that hit me, “We need to be more honest with our community. They should be allowed to take control of ending their own life.”
“Is what unites us far greater than the divide?” – Gill Hicks, survivor of the 2005 London bombings
Gill Hicks survived the London terrorist attack in 2005 and is now a motivational speaker and author amongst many other things. The bomb left her amputated but what was even more inspirational was her will to live as they didn’t think she would make it out alive. She describes her method of survival; focus, guided by instinct alone, lowered her breathing, clung on to every memory of her past and simply held on. She remembers thinking about work and how much of it didn’t matter in the tunnel. Note to self: it’s not how far you can climb up the corporate ladder, it’s what we do with our time that matters.
I think what truly moved me though, was her belief in humanity. Because humanity = human life, and we need to embrace the wisdom and accept all. Do not let fear divide us regardless of race, color, or religious beliefs.