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TED-Ed Weekend through the eyes of a student

By Ashiana Sunderji on April 9, 2020 in News + Updates

Hosts Ashley Kolaya and Bobby Nweke speak at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash

Hosts Ashley Kolaya and Bobby Nweke at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash

Ashiana Sunderji offers an inside look at what it was like to attend TED-Ed Weekend in February as one of the 120 students invited to come to NYC.

Ashiana attended the event with 4 other student members of the Encounters TED-Ed Club from Vancouver, Canada. Here she describes what it was like to see the students from the TED-Ed Student Talk community come together, listen to ideas from her peers on the TED stage, and participate with other students in activities and workshops:


The first day consisted of four sessions, in which we were taught so many new ideas. I wanted to share the aspects that resonated with me the most in each session to ensure that it sticks within the realm of Ashiana’s Home!

Session #1

In the first session, we got to hear a bunch of student’s talks from the TED Stage. They were given by students of many ages from all over the world. I would have to say that my favorite part of the entire conference was probably the interactions that I got to have with students and facilitators from all over the world. I talked to at least one person from Greece, Mexico, London, Russia, Columbia and so many other places making all of the topics of the talks super diverse.

I have been a part of my club for almost two years now as I joined in September 2018. While most of the groups in attendance at this conference were based out of their schools, our club uses TED as a vehicle to understand the history of our faith and the intersections that it has in secular contexts. It was so incredible to come to the realization that every single talk intersected with our faith curriculum.

A talk in the first session that hit very close to home was given by Suzu Kitamura . She gave a spoken word on perfectionism. I am someone who strives for achievement and sometimes my strides are not fulfilled and this is why it is important to look at life through the lens that no one is perfect. I thought this talk was super relevant and I feel that every person in the room, no matter where they came from took something from this piece.

Suzu Kitamura speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Suzu Kitamura speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

The second discussion that I wanted to share was the conversation with the youngest editor of Teen Vogue: Vera Papisova. As someone who runs their own blog, I thought it was super cool to hear about the editors experience working in that industry. They touched on many relevant global issues and topics, and how they had been incorporated into Teen Vogue. I love how they emphasized the importance of including these topics in such an on-trend magazine, and that a space such as Teen Vogue should educate their readers.

Vera Papisova speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Vera Papisova speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Session #2

In the second session, we got to see a whole bunch of cool activations. They all included a means of art, which I found to be very engaging. The activation that really spoke to me amongst all of the ones that I got to participate in, was Movers and Shakers. They made art  that can be scanned to reveal a digital 3D like image and story about a person (usually a minority) in history who is not widely recognized for their revolutionary accomplishments. This, to me, is such an important gap in the media, and public eye, that should be filled. The art was amazing, and the cause even stronger.

We also got a workshop on public speaking  which I took a lot from. I found the way that the presenter shared her points super relatable, and we were all learning so much through her empowering form of teaching.

Raegan Sealy at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Raegan Sealy speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Session #3

One aspect that I really enjoyed about the conference was the global audience. People were able to tune in from home and watch in live time, their faces appeared on the sides of the theatre. We got to hear from some amazing young people about the changes that they are making in the world in terms of the environment.

 Xiye Bastida gave a talk about the indigenous practices of taking care of our Earth. This is very similar to what we learn about in our religious classes, as Muslims it is our role to take care of god’s creation. I think hearing another culture’s perspective really emphasized this practice for me.  It was so relevant and informative, that I began reflecting on our purpose in the climate crisis quite a bit after her talk.

Xiye Bastida speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Xiye Bastida speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Session #4

My favorite moment from session #4 was the improv group Freestyle Love Supreme. They are from Broadway and were incredible. They improvised an entire show, which I think reminded the audience of the courage that it takes to get on the stage and share something that is so personal. I believe that attending this conference really helped to inspire my confidence so that I will be able to convey my ideas in a way that resonates with the most people.


This day was more divided in activities as many people had to leave throughout the day to catch flights (including us). These were my two favorite activities:

Chris Anderson’s talk about Climate Crisis

I had no idea we were going to get to hear from Chris Anderson. When I first joined the club, the first talk we had to watch was “How to Make a Talk” by Chris Anderson. His talk was very powerful and really brought forward the change that is being made by TED this year, not just sharing ideas but taking action. We got to help choose graphics for the promotion of the Countdown Event.

Chris Anderson speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED.

Chris Anderson speaks at TED-Ed Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED.

Discussion about Climate Crisis

We then got to divide into groups and have an in-depth discussion about climate change with students from all over the world. This was such a new experience for me, getting to converse with people who came from completely different parts of the world from me, and their own opinions and personal experiences related to our environment. This was definitely a highlight from the entire weekend for me.

Student discussion at TED Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Student discussion at TED Weekend. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

  • The conference opened so many new perspectives to me. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and hope that I get to experience something like this again! Thank you for reading all about my amazing experience with TED-Ed!

  • Ashiana Sunderji is a 12 grade student who gave her own TED-Ed Student Talk on how youth should turn to community service to learn about their own identities. She started and runs the Encounters TED-Ed Club blog, as well as her own fashion and travel blog.
Tags: Student Talks Program, Student Voice, Students, TED-Ed Weekend