School hosts first-ever TEDx event

With the aim of enlightening young minds with new ideas, the school hosted its first-ever TEDx Woodstock School, event on Nov. 23, 2019 at Hanifl Centre. 

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TEDx WoodstockSchool was a half-day event curated by a select group of highly motivated students, headed by Navya Sethi, Class of 2020, along with Mr. Arjun Puri, Director of Development, with an audience of about 85 people at the Hanifl Centre in Mussoorie, India. Their goal was to bring together bright minds, to deliver talks that are idea-focused, and on a wide range of subjects, to foster learning, inspiration, and wonder-and provoke conversations that matter.

TEDx team hard at work

The theme of the event was “Weathering the Storm,” a phrase that represents the ability to succeed against all odds. 

In November 2018, Sethi applied to obtain the license as a TEDx organizer. The process consisted of a rigorous and competitive application process followed by an interview with the official TED team. With a lot of effort and dedication, Sethi attained the license for the school, and two months later, TEDx Woodstock School was off to a kickstart!

TED expected the school to capture the TED spirit by sparking community connections and inspiring ideas that change perspectives. 

Navya Sethi, TEDx Lead Student Organiser

Reflecting on the TEDx journey, Sethi said, “I’m grateful to Woodstock for encouraging students to believe in the power of their dreams. Being a TEDx organiser is an extraordinary privilege, but it’s also a massive commitment. This was by far the most challenging and fulfilling experience for me.” 

From an author to the CEO of a healthcare organization, the student interns and staff coordinators invited six reputable public figures from all over India to share their stories of overcoming obstacles and achieving success. 

The event commenced with an introductory speech from Mr. Aditya Manral, Alumni Office staff who highlighted the theme and spoke about the learning opportunities that come with adversities. 

Devika Cariapa, children’s author, shared her journey of studying archeology. She recalled the times when people told her “archeology doesn’t fly planes,” yet she managed to look past them and only grew her passion for the subject. 

To emphasise the importance of archeology for young generations, she quoted Terry Pratchett, an English Humorist, “If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”

The team thought of their audience’s needs every step of the way. From TEDx event badges, to gift bags, to networking opportunities, there is a lot to cover when it comes to creating a TED-like experience. Doaa Althawar, Class of 2021 and a TEDx Woodstock School attendee said, “I like TEDx because it’s inspirational and shows how ordinary people achieved extraordinary things by fighting for what they believed in. I am glad to have gotten the opportunity to attend this event because it inspired me to get up and fight for my dreams despite all the hardships life will give me.”

Devika Cariapa, Children’s author

Another speaker, Priya Prakash, CEO of HealthSetGo, India’s largest healthcare organization for schools, delivered her story of being an overweight teenager who turned into a figure who hopes to “ensure every child in India lives a healthy life.” 

Transitioning herself from a person who feared to raise her hand up in class because of rude comments on her physical appearance, to becoming a woman who confidently lifted 100 kilograms in front of an audience, Prakash is undoubtedly the product of an immense struggle. Today, she has become an individual who is featured on Forbes magazine and several other media platforms to share how hardships led her to give back to the community. 

Priya Prakash, Healthcare entrepreneur

Mr. Ashoke Chatterjee, one of the TEDx speakers, expressed his gratitude to the organizers and the team, “Thank you to Navya and the TEDx team for such a memorable experience at the Hanifl Center. I will remember the event, the setting, the warm winter sun, and all the good cheer – the memories will sustain me as I get back to weathering mundane storms here in Ahmedabad, so far from all the wonders of that hillside!”

The event concluded with a vote of thanks from Ms. Aastha Bhakhri, Deputy Head of Marketing and Communications, who mentioned that she too faced challenges to bring this event together but through the process, she was able to “virtually connect [others and herself] on a global platform.” 

The TEDx talks will be posted on the official TEDx channel over the course of two to three months.

When asked about her next plans, Sethi said, “As a restriction from TED, this license allowed us 100 attendees only. Next year, our goal is to open it up to a wider audience, including Woodstock alumni, parents and the local community, and push this to a bigger scale. The idea is to unearth local voices, and celebrate the TEDx vision.”

This was indeed a day filled with brilliant speakers, thought-provoking video and mind-blowing conversation. From the day the guests received invitations, to weeks after the event was over, everybody felt like they experienced something significant. 

Archita Aggarwal is the News Editor for The Woodstocker

Pictures by TEDx Woodstock School team

Edited by Janvi Poddar

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