Tedx Speaker Launch 2016: a “classy affair”

Photo: Lightbox Creative St Andrews
Photo: Lightbox Creative St Andrews
Photo: Lightbox Creative St Andrews

The lights were low, the room packed, and Adamson bartenders were violently shaking their cocktail shakers with their trademark dramatic flair. Last Friday marked the annual launch party for the TEDx programme, welcomed by a completely full house; a somewhat surprising fact considering there had been almost no publicity for the event… Even the Facebook event page has been barren except for the time and place. But there was no doubt that this was a classy affair and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

While the atmosphere in the bar was lively, with the addition of several lovely finishing touches (hello free TED cocktail anyone?), I had to question the necessity of such an event. The main reason it was being held was merely to continue the legacy of last year’s TEDx events, and with an 8 o’clock start, it was a long booze-filled wait until the 9:30 introductory talks that only lasted a meagre five minutes. At the end of the day it just felt like a casual night out with friends rather than a launch party. Nevertheless, that did not entirely detract from the fun of the night, rather it clouded the purpose of the actual event.
However, as a launch, this was all preparation for the main event: a series of 10 talks on a variety of topics hosted at the end of April, beingcarefully arranged to fall on 30 April, just before May Dip, allowing all who attend to feel somewhat intellectual before throwing themselves into the freezing cold North Sea…
Held at the Byre theatre, co-directors Sunjana Dalal and Alex Longson are determined that this year will be bigger and better than last year’s event. Both were involved in last year’s production, but have stepped up to the plate to orchestrate a more engaging TEDx than ever envisioned before.

Sunjana, a fourth year and last year’s treasurer ,has comfortably stepped into the shoes of the business coordinator. Organising impressive sponsorships from Vita Coco and Ecar, as well as convincing eight professionals to speak to a crowd of students is a big task, but Sunjana seems confident: “People complained it was too business focused last year,

so we wanted to fix that,” she claims “So we focused on finding a variety of speakers”. Not only are the speakers from different fields, but she promises they will be speaking on topics that are completely novel to the student body. It is a big task, but the committee has faith. Speaking to Alex, the artistic half of the partnership, it was hard not to be enthused by his sheer passion for the event. As the man behind the camera, his responsibility includes managing the tech side, and I was assured by many that it will be impressive. He aims to reconfigure the committee itself so that all the different year groups can come together. Now each and every member has power to make decisions in their field. The concept behind this is that they are all “connected with shared responsibility” to make this event memorable.

As a final goodbye before the end of the event we were given the chance to meet the two selected student speakers of this year. Both Chris Andrews and Maryam Golafshani fought off about 50 other contestants with their pitch ideas alone. I have to say I was slightly overwhelmed by Chris’s pitch: the idea to run across America promoting face to face contact. Although we only received a brief version of his plan, I’m sure after some time he will have a speech that will be both intriguing and inspiring enough. As for promoting face-to-face interaction through a primarily digital medium, he claims it is to emphasise the fact that his idea does not need people to completely give up the digital world. Maryam’s idea of what medicine can learn from the humanities makes my degree feel slightly more important, and her passion shone through. At the core, she suggests we expect doctors to be far more interdisciplinary than they are, and this is something she hopes to rectify. I wish her luck.
No doubt about it: I’m dying to go to the next, actual event. Save the date for 30 April – it’s going to be an event to remember.


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