TED Active: An Unforgettable Memory

I’m a 17 year old girl at TED Active and some people called me the most interesting person they’ve met all day. WOW.

I had never met such successful, intellectual people in my life and especially not all within one space in a week. Legally, I wasn’t allowed to attend TED Active due to an unreasonable age restriction of being 19 years and older with the expensive addition of $4,000 and hotel costs on top of that.  As I was supposed to be volunteering at a public viewing for TED 2014, I was invited to a TEDx Workshop at Grouse Mountain where I attended Deep Dive Discussions and met the creative minds behind the TEDx’s around the world. Out of pure luck, I was given a wristband which accidentally led me up onto the bus to Whistler, the location of TED Active.

No one had ever expected a high school student to attend at a TED event and professionally communicate with other adults. When they asked me what my occupation was, I told them I was still in high school and their jaws dropped.  Only a few TEDxers ended the conversation quickly, and I assumed it was because I didn’t pose as an asset to them; however, others sat me down and bombarded me with questions. Well, I definitely posed as a surprise to them!

They were the most fascinating people I had ever met, yet they gave me that title. They thought my stories and passions were inspiring to hear about and people declared a couple of astounding things:

  1. One man from Yemen told me that he expected to see me on TED giving a talk in a couple of years.
  2. Another man ensured that I had the full skill set to create my own TEDx conference.
  3. A man from Greece revealed that I gave him a renewed hope and perspective on youth.
  4. One man from Japan mentioned that he spoke to a man who curated 37 TEDx events and said I was the most interesting person he had met at this event.

This conference gave me a whole new confidence. I wasn’t even allowed to attend any sessions, though I walked away learning more than I had ever imagined. TED Active was like a family. Everyone became close friends just within the first day at Grouse. Maybe it was because we all were so passionate about TED, but as I looked from a global perspective, we were all different. We had different stories and experiences to share, some valued aspects differently from others, and we all came from different cultures which completed the global TEDx community.

I was never supposed to go at TED Active; but realistically, who does everything they’re “supposed” to do? I made my own rules last week, and I didn’t let my age put a limit on where I could go and what I wanted to do.  Sometimes, it’s worth it to step out of that bubble and go against the current.

My spring break of 2014 was this accidental week spent with the TEDx community and transformed into one of the best experiences of my life.

Written By: Josephine Au

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