Thursday, February 28, 2013

On the road again: TEDActive, day 5

The talks today were in general the weakest thus far, except when they weren't.  None was bad, mind you, and none was useless.  I learned at least a little something from all of them. 

A few of today's presentations were particularly intriguing, and two--the final two--were so moving that they brought nearly the entire  audience to its feet.

Among the more routine but still very interesting talks, I'll single out two.  Sydney radio host and math lover Adam Spencer made everyone laugh even as he communicated his genuine love of numbers in a talk that at its core was just an extended bit about large prime numbers. Anas Aremeyaw Anas, wearing a mask to protect his real identity, showed the power of undercover, investigative journalism.

In the penultimate presentation, Hyeonseo Lee, a young North Korean woman who escaped that country and later helped her family escape, recounted, at times with obvious pain, what led her to escape from her homeland and what happened after she did.  Touching, terrifying, troubling, and incredibly moving, Lee moved us all. 

In the final performance of the day, poet Shane Koyczan stood and with passion and heart and fire and vulnerability and above all strength shared with us a poem that started with his youth and that ultimately included the amazing piece you can listen to (and see an animated version of) at the To This Day Project.  When he finished, we all leapt to our feet.  Go listen to this poem.  When his TED talk goes live, as I hope it will, listen to it.  It's a sad tale of what so many of us go through as children, and it's an uplifting testimony to what we can be, what we all can be, if we can learn to love ourselves and to ignore the horrible lessons that bullies and thoughtless adults and mean kids tried to teach us. 

Do not miss this poem.  Listen to it, then read it on his site.

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