The energy in the USC ballroom was one of excitement and enthusiasm Tuesday, April 4. Students, faculty and community members came together ready to talk change.
With a drink in one hand and a plate of hors d’oeuvres in the other, students burst out of their shells and strived to find out more about their fellow classmates.
Daniel Le, a senior criminology major, ended up at the TEDx event by accident. He bumped into a friend on campus who suggested he come check the talk out.
“TEDx tackles interesting topics,” Le said. “They want to spread their ideas to the masses.”
Of the seven speakers slotted to spread their ideas of how to spark change, three stood out.
Achim Nowak, a bestselling author, was the first speaker up to bat. His talk centered around how to be enough in a “never enough” world.
Nowak’s mother helped instill the never enough attitude in him from a young age. Every time he brought home a good grade he was a greeted with a congratulation that was quickly followed by the question, “how did the other kids do?”
Nowak said people tend to bombard themselves with constant busy work to prove that they are enough, but he had one message that he hoped listeners would take to heart.
“Know that if you do absolutely nothing [in life], you are enough,” Nowak said as his speech came to a close. “I mean really, enough already.”
The next speaker was Walter Balser (pictured above), director of Lifelong Learning, who spoke of sparking change in the next generation of teachers.
“All right, busywork. I’m Mr. Balser, your teacher tonight, and the topic of our lesson is ‘There’s Never A Better Time To Be A Teacher,’” Balser said as he strolled onto the stage, while the sound of a school bell rang behind him.
Balser explained how he didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to be a teacher. He explained that once someone learns how to be a master teacher he or she can apply his or her skills to school design, athletics, business and thousands of other jobs.
The terms that fall under job descriptions such as “team leader,” “ability to reach diverse audiences” and “creative out-of-the-box thinker” are often attributed to business majors, but people don’t tend to think it applies to teachers. Balser made a strong argument that the attributes do apply to educators.
Balser referenced a study done by Oxford University that predicted the survival rate of 700 hundred jobs by the year 2034. Educators were ranked with a 99.5 percent survivability rate.
“I don’t think we have a [teacher] shortage crisis. I think we have a perception crisis,” Balser said. “If we solve this, we just might be able to convince the next generation that there has never been a better time to be a teacher.”
Devin T. Robinson X, also known as Egypt, who is an actor and motivational speaker, was the last of the TEDx speakers. Robinson told three allegories and asked for a favor in return.
Robinson captivated the audience with a story of an old homeless man and a young millionaire. The millionaire challenged the old man to a race, the old man obliged but insisted he is able to choose the finish line. After running for quite some time the young man collapsed and the old man won the race. The story conveyed the message that when you let someone else decide where your finish line is you give them all of your power.
The second story, based off of a poem, was about three young men who walked past an old man building a bridge. One of the men heckled the old man and the other two did nothing to stop it. Ten years later, the three friends found the old man still building the bridge. The young man once again heckled the old man, the second friend did nothing to stop it and the third friend asked the old man why he wanted to build a bridge he would never be able to cross. The old man explained that he wasn’t building the bridge for himself but for future generations to come.
The third story was about Robinson and his nephew. One day they were looking for a tool in the garage. Robinson took out his flashlight but the nephew insisted they open the garage door to rely on the sunlight. Despite all of the light brought on by the sun, the nephew was still unable to find the tool. Robinson turned his flashlight back on to reveal the tool laying under his car. Informing the TEDx crowd that no matter how bright the sun is, a flashlight will still serve its purpose.
Then Robinson asked the audience a favor. He had everyone take a selfie. After the selfies, Robinson pointed out that each person immediately looked down at their phones to see if they looked okay.
Robinson then told the crowd that people often define themselves by comparing their lives to others. He then had everyone look at their photos once more to remind the crowd that it doesn’t matter what anyone else has because it doesn’t negate that each individual is special.
“At the end of the day, you own your future, you own your destiny and you own how great you’re going to be,” Robinson said.
Header photo courtesy of USFSP Connect