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McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill event

Fifteen speakers discuss ‘ideas worth spreading’

On Sunday, November 13, McGill hosted its third annual TEDx event at Bain-Mathieu on Ontario Est. The event brought together 15 speakers, about half of whom were McGill students, to share their reflections on the theme of “Redefining Reality.”

TED is a nonprofit organization whose slogan is, “Ideas worth spreading.” TEDx, an offshoot of TED, brings people together in local, self-organized events to share the TED experience and spark discussion.

U3 Arts student Nida Nizam and postgraduate medical student June Lam organized Sunday’s entirely student-run event.

Lam said he was drawn to TEDx for its optimism. “I love TED Talks because it’s not financial, it’s not for economic success. It’s untinged in that it is just about ideas… I’m drawn to it because it’s pure joy, optimism, and idealism for the future.”

Regarding the preparation for the event, he explained that, “It’s been a challenge, but a really fun one.”

Within the broader theme of “Redefining Reality,” the speakers were split into three sessions, each with its own sub-theme.

The event featured speakers Morgan Wienberg, founder of Little Footprints, Big Steps and primary caretaker for over 75 children in Haiti; Alain Tascan, co-founder of Ubisoft in Montreal; Pinny Gniwisch, professor of McGill’s first ecommerce and social media course; and Joshua Kyle, U3 Engineering student and founder of Reboot McGill.

For Wienberg – who, at age nineteen, decided to forgo university to care for over 75 victimized children in a Haitian orphanage – redefining reality means changing your perspective and stepping outside the box.

“[Redefining reality] means taking into account other peoples’ perspectives. Make sure your eyes are not the only ones that you’re looking through,” she said.

“Don’t let the expectations of society or your own expectations of yourself and your comfort zone stop you,” she continued. “If it’s never been done, who cares? You can do it.”

Alex Pritz, student and co-founder of Developing Pictures Media – an organization that films pro-bono films for NGOs in Haiti, among other projects – echoed this sentiment. “Step out of the one dimensional perspective that you’ve built up throughout the years,” he said. “The key to redefining your reality [is] accepting other peoples’ realities as just as genuine as your own.”

Christian Elliot, Pritz’s partner in Developing Pictures, added, “Don’t accept your own limitations, because the moment that you do is the moment you stop yourself from potentially doing something amazing.”

Throughout the talks, audience members were encouraged to live-tweet questions on Twitter, to be answered in a panel discussion of speakers after each session. Audience members were also invited to give short reflections of each session.

For Tabia Lau, who gave a spoken word performance at the event, “The importance of TED is the discussion that happens after the talks.”

“[TEDxMcGill] is the stirring pot that gets people thinking about ideas. [It] creates a space that’s safe for people to keep an open mind, to redefine and reevaluate their lives and ideas,” she said.