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TEDx at DA
Maddie Moon '16 Associate Editor
January 28, 2015

Sunday, February 22nd marks Deerfield’s first TEDxDeerfieldAcademy conference. Set to take place in the Wachsman Concert Hall from 2:00 to 5:30 pm, the event will give the community a chance to share and listen to “passions and experiences shared among the Deerfield members,” Haidun Liu ’15 said.

“I feel as if there is a lack of recognition in certain aspects on campus,” Nahla Achi ’15, added. “Athletes are appreciated through athletic awards and contests, performers through performances, and students through academic success. However, random hobbies and interests aren’t recognized as much, and there aren’t many chances to learn about those pursuits.”

Starting last year, three seniors, Haidun Liu, Nahla Achi, and Megan Retana ‘15, worked with Academic Dean Peter Warsaw to launch TEDxDeerfieldAcademy. According to its website, TEDx “is a platform for ideas worth spreading.” TEDx events are independently organized and allow people to experience this opportunity on a more local level. The conference will provide a space in which students and faculty can reflect on and share passions and lessons.

In order to decide the theme of the conference, each table during a December sit-down meal was asked to brainstorm contenders. Afterwards, the planning committee noted the recurring ideas and determined which topic would best fit the community.

“Time was an umbrella under which smaller matters could fit,” Mr. Warsaw said. “Time is very important at Deerfield since it’s the most precious resource we have.”

Ellie Koschik ’17 commented, “It’s very interesting that time is the theme because people often don’t have time to stop and enjoy what’s going on around them. Delving more into the topic is one way to enjoy time.”

The desire to host a TEDx conference at Deerfield has been around for several years. But it wasn’t until last year that Student Council designed a stage for members of the community to share hobbies, knowledge and fascinations. Starting last spring, Deerfield Talks were piloted to see whether or not a TEDxDeerfieldAcademy conference would be viable.

“Deerfield Talks raised questions, discussion and awareness about the issues around us,” Retana said. “These kind of talks provide an outlet for student and faculty to share their intellectual pursuits and inspire others to put our education into action.”

“When we realized that the Deerfield Talks were working out really well, we decided to apply for a TEDxDeerfieldAcademy license,” Achi explained. “We heard back from the TED company soon after, telling us they’ve accepted our license.”

Since this is the Academy’s first year participating in a TEDx conference, the crowd is limited to one hundred viewers. In order to keep track of the audience, those wanting to attend have to “demonstrate interest in several sentences to Nahla Achi, Haidun Liu, Mr. Warsaw and me,” Retana said.

“The application process seems necessary in order to narrow down the audience to those who truly want to be there,” Richard Park ’17 agreed.

“By having students apply for a spot, it would ensure that the audience actually care [sic] about what is being presented and would benefit from the presentations,” Quentin Jeyaretnam ’16 added.

However, not all were completely convinced of the need to apply.

“The application process has diminished my interest in the conference,” Michael Wang ’18 said. “Having to write an application gives me a sense of false hope, in that I would have to put work into reflecting upon the purpose of attending the conference yet have a chance of not being able to go.”

“It would work better if there was some sort of lottery process rather than an essay,” Kyra Kocis ’16 asserted. “That way, it doesn’t seem like an assignment or a chore but rather a [procedure based on the] simple desire to be part of the conference.”

All presentations will be recorded and available on YouTube and the TEDxDeerfieldAcademy website so those can’t attend will all be able to watch the proceedings. If all goes well, Deerfield will be eligible to apply for a recurring TEDxDeerfieldAcademy conference license, which wouldn’t limit the number of audience members.

Chi Kyu Lee ’16 concluded, “I hope the TEDxDeerfieldAcademy talk will encourage students to be more vocal about the community and their passions.”