TEDxYouth Day: My Contribution

Yesterday, six students from the feminism class and Ileana Jiménez attended the TedxYouth Day at the Hewitt School. It was a remarkable opportunity to be able to listen to the ideas and stories of others presenting their work and what they hope to achieve as well as be part of the change and voice something that was personally important.

Before sitting down to listen to the first set of speakers, we practiced our run through. Although I didn’t get to practice in the group line up because we ran out of time, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be about the presentation. I can only think to credit this to my previous opportunities in front of the camera being interviewed by CBS due to the testimony I shared publicly at a recent New York City council hearing on street harassment. Through these experiences, I think I have gained confidence in my voice and clarity in expressing my feelings that helped me personally present better than I thought would’ve been possible at the TedxYouth event.

Although the conference was not solely based around feminism and activism in terms of woman’s rights, there was a focus on women’s issues. The fact that the event took place at the all girls school, Hewitt, most likely played a role in the content. The topics discussed that most stood out to me included the first speaker, Amita Swadhin, who works to fight the sexual abuse of children, a topic I think can strongly relate to due to my own harassment on the streets and subways of NYC. The spoken-word artist, Lauren “Lo” Anderson, blew me away with her ability to poetically convey such emotion through her words that her  stories and ideas stuck in my thoughts for the rest of the day.

All these organizations and ideas seem to come together under the main topic of justice and equal rights/opportunities for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, income, family, or age.  I feel there should have been a continuing connection between different organizations with the work that they all do. For example, the documentary maker who spoke, Amy Unell, could work with the children in Arthur Levine’s old neighborhood to help spread awareness of the injustices in our own city through the power of media.

Before we got on stage, as my teacher Ileana Jiménez was presenting, I began to get nervous. I went over and over my lines in my head. I was worried that I was nervous. I have spoken to sources much more intimidating than this supportive crowd, yet I still was nervous that I was going to blank out on stage. But after I finished my piece and stood on stage, I realized that no matter now many media sources, interviews, or presentations you give, you are always a little nervous and that it’s good to be nervous because it not only keeps you on your toes but also gives you energy which you can channel as you speak, using it to your advantage.

I think through being able to connect with certain experiences shared I was able to more fully understand that making a change is truly something I am capable of. It is not out of reach. If you continue to fight for what you believe in, your age will no longer be such a barrier or something that holds you back from believing in accomplishing. If you are able to gain skill through your ability to present and persuade with your words and ideals, capturing the attention of others, and making them feel a passion for the subject at hand is what is truly most important.

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