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TEDx Deerfield 2021 Preview
Millie Gu ‘22 Staff Writer
April 2, 2021

What accounts for the difference between introverts and extroverts? What makes communication effective? How can music impact our emotions? If you want to know the answers to these questions and more, make sure to visit the TEDxDeerfield event at the Hess Concert Hall. The theme for the 2021 event, which will take place in May, is “motif.” 

“We choose the theme to encompass a multitude of talks that can range across STEM, humanities, and the arts,” TEDxDeerfield student leader Rosnel Leyva-Cortes ’22 explained. “Motifs themselves are just items that represent a broad theme, and this idea holds true in the real world. Small actions or concentrations of study all eventually contribute to some higher purpose or ideal that we rarely think about.”

Each talk will be around eighteen minutes long. The students started preparing at the beginning of the winter term, first writing a thousand to three thousand word long script then revising, making a powerpoint presentation, memorizing their talk, and rehearsing continuously. In the TEDxDeerfield Committee, several different groups work in conjunction to ensure the event will run smoothly. The subcommittees are hospitality, communications, and tech. 

“Hospitality deals with securing the venue and making sure props and location are set for the day of the event; communications relays information to speakers and to the school in general about TEDx; tech helps with the setup of the audio and video for the event,” said Leyva-Cortes.

Lily Zeng ’22 will give a talk about the neuroscience of introversion and extroversion. A few years ago, she read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which became the source of inspiration for her talk. 

Zeng hopes to use the scientific basis of temperament to help clarify misconceptions about the meaning of introversion and extroversion in Western society. “There is this widely held idea, for example, that introverts have worse social skills because they’re quiet ,” Zeng said. “But in the end, when you look at the facts, what separates us is the way we react to outside stimuli and how easily aroused our brains are.”

Daniel Kang ’21, who will be giving a talk about languages, also thinks that TEDx is “a wonderful opportunity to share about something I love and spark curiosity in people who’re excited to learn.” Knowing that “the community of enthusiasts is very small,” he hopes to introduce this field of studies to more people. 

Kang realized that the rules that he has been familiar with for a long time might seem peculiar to an audience without any previous knowledge. “This realization reminded me of the very reason I fell in love with languages; they show that, even with all the diversity in human culture that makes the world an exciting place to live, we are, at the end of the day, all human beings that think in a similar way, that can empathize with each other,” he said.

In addition to Zeng’s and Kang’s talk, Jerry Zhou ’22 will present on nonpartisan discourse, Yurok Song ’22 on the intertwining of music with human emotion, Maddie Poole ’21 on effective communication, Annalisa Fang ’22 on the flow state in music, and Fahad Shahbaz ’22 on his experience of going from a big city in Pakistan to the small town of Deerfield. 

TEDxDeerfield experienced some major changes this year because of COVID-19. In the past years, Deerfield has invited guest speakers from the surrounding Pioneer Valley or other states to participate in the event. This year, due to COVID restrictions, the group of speakers is composed entirely of students. With the departure of Mr. David Thiel, who used to be the head of TEDxDeerfield, and the graduation of several student leaders, the current committee has had to further adjust to a new norm. 

However, the event will still happen in-person at the Hess Concert Hall, with a socially distanced audience, and recordings of the presentations will be uploaded to Youtube for those who miss the chance to attend. Be sure to check out this event!