Last year’s TEDx Woodstockschool event occurred in the Hanifl Centre in Mussoorie, India, with a live audience of 85 people. With the theme “Weathering the Storm,” there were six accomplished, vibrant, and thought-provoking speakers like Devika Cariapa, a children’s author, and Priya Prakash, a healthcare entrepreneur. They shared their thoughts and experiences on how they became who they are today.
This year, the event occurred amid the pandemic on Youtube, curated by many of our diligent Woodstock students and hosted by Nupur Agrawal and Gauri Pasbola, Class of 2021. The theme “Redefining Freedom” was articulated by five pertinacious speakers who gave their various perspectives of being persistent about freedom through hard work, eagerness, and creativity.
It began with an introduction by principal, Dr. Craig Cook, expressing his gratitude towards the speakers for kindling inspiration to the minds of the youth and all those who made this event virtual and possible during a pandemic.
The first speaker was Bindu Subramaniam, a music educator, who talked about the importance of ‘passion driving a child’s future.’ She shared her experience with a common question that every child is asked- What do you want to be when you grow up? Her answer was- to become a lawyer. Her pursuit of law continued till midway though law school when she realised that she was least interested in the profession. It was the signs of approval by adults given to her as a child that convinced her to pursue this path. She expressed the importance of students taking various subjects to allow themselves to eventually untie the knots of their passion.
The next speaker was Anushka Pathak, a publicist and disability advocate. She redefined freedom by educating her viewers on accepting people without certain conventions. “You don’t need to prove yourself to everyone as long as you are at peace with the fact that you are doing great.” This was followed by her heart-wrenching story of her amputated arm and experiencing the different societal views in India and the United States. She shared her motto during tough situations- “not why me, but unfortunately me, what can I do to move forward.” This gave an insight in her passion for working towards altering the future so it can give the freedom other people with disabilities deserve.
Jamie Alter, Woodstock alumni, Class of 1999, is a sportswriter and actor. He revealed his journey from school to college, meanwhile, trying different career paths based on what may suit him. When he finally decided to become a sportswriter, an actor, and open a Youtube channel during the pandemic, he framed these professions as having both ugly and heavenly sides. He vocalised the significance of ‘maintaining identity’ even though one puts oneself out there for everyone to comment. Alter expressed his struggles of exhibiting his perspective, but explains freedom is redefined when one stands by one’s beliefs even when faced with a multitude of opposing opinions.
The event follows as Ady Manral, a singer-songwriter, performed his new song Landour sky, describing the beautiful landscapes in Uttarakhand.
The next speaker was an inspirational, soon-to-be-graduating Woodstock student, Janvi Poddar, who is immensely passionate about climate change and helping find a sustainable future to provide the freedom that everyone wishes for. She talked about how everyone has a definition of freedom and how it is under massive threat. She stressed on the fact that in the next few decades, ecosystems will collapse, human beings will be displaced, and ‘freedom will be a thing of the past because we’ll be busy fighting for our survival.’ She explained the concept of inclusive sustainable development, where inclusive means including people from all communities and celebrating everyone’s creativity and individuality. Sustainability includes adopting new principles and implementing them in every decision in our lives. Her outlook on redefining freedom is to pursue it by fighting the climate crisis.
Another musical performance by Ishaan Mehra, Class of 2021, followed as he wowed the audience with his newest and unreleased single, White Sand Diamonds.
The last speaker was Bani Nanda, an entrepreneur and chef from L’École De Pâtisserie by Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, who has a deep love and passion for French pastries and desserts. Nanda conveys that freedom is mostly enjoyed when one is financially independent. She also emphasizes how it is sometimes ‘okay to go back to the roots’ to find out what you really want to do. Nanda explains how sometimes saying no to people helps provide a path where you know what you want instead of falling out everywhere is necessary.
Ms. Aastha Bhakri, ended the successful event with a last expression of gratitude to all the speakers and staff of TEDx Woodstock who helped make this event possible.
This event provided perspectives on the topic of ‘Redefining freedom’ in a manner where one has to have passion for something to pursue it, and always remember freedom is gained through self-expression and reminding themselves to be the change first before influencing others.
Bishalakshmi Bagchi is a staff reporter.
Picture by TedX Woodstock School team.
Edited by Ira Ahuja.