TEDxHarkerSchool returns in-person to explore ‘Transcending Boundaries’ tomorrow

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Anika Maji

A TEDx banner sits outside Manzanita during lunch today. TEDxHarkerSchool will host its annual speaker event, themed “Transcending Boundaries,” in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center at the upper school tomorrow in a return to an in-person format after last year’s weeklong virtual event. 

by Anika Maji, Reporter

TEDxHarkerSchool will host its annual speaker event, themed “Transcending Boundaries,” in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center (RPAC) at the upper school tomorrow in a return to an in-person format after last year’s weeklong virtual event

The day’s schedule includes four speakers who will present in the Patil Theater on a topic relating to this year’s theme.

“This year’s event is symbolic in the fact that it’s even happening,” TEDx co-curator Sasvath Ramachandran (12) said. “That’s one of the reasons why when we were thinking about themes, we decided upon ‘Transcending Boundaries’ — we wanted to come back with an event that recognized it but also celebrated the positive aspects of what has otherwise been a terrible situation.”

The day will begin at 9 a.m., and attendees will have half an hour to check in and explore the interactive booths set up in the RPAC lobby. Afterwards, two presenters will give their talks, followed by another 30-minute break and exploration period. The final two presenters will then speak, and attendees can subsequently attend a mentor luncheon from 11:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. 

The 2021 speaker lineup is:

Internationally-bestselling author Dan Roam, who will be speaking on “The Back of the Napkin: How Visual Storytelling Works”; author, food activist and founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant Alice Waters, who will be speaking on “School-Supported Agriculture”; former MasterChef contestant and founder of the blog Milk & Cardamom Hetal Vasavada, who will be speaking on “Chasing My Creativity: Taking a Left Turn of a Pathway to Science”; Aaron Tran (12), this year’s senior speaker, who will be speaking on “A Foreboding of Horoscopes: Truth, Trust, and Fear in the Pandemic.”

I really love working as a team. And a lot of teamwork goes into [coordinating TEDx], and we all have our separate sub teams in TEDx…but we all get to work with each other and collaborate.”

— TEDx Operations Associate Tanya Karpincyk (10)

In previous years, TEDxHarkerSchool has taken place in Nichols Hall, but due to its popularity and an increase in attendees over the years, the TEDx team decided to host the event in the RPAC for the first time in TEDxHarkerSchool history to accommodate for an expected audience of around 250 people.

TEDx started planning for the event last spring, when they recruited their team and began preparatory work, such as team bonding and timeline setting. Gradually, their workload increased, starting out light in the summer and intensifying during the fall, when they held weekly meetings to plan for the event. 

Transitioning back to an in-person event highlighted the challenges that planning last year’s remote one had not seen: contacting mentors and finding booths is time-consuming, according to Sasvath, and the TEDx team could only contact local speakers to present this year, unlike last year’s virtual event. Nonetheless, the teamwork aspect of organizing the annual event is something TEDx Operations Associate Tanya Karpincyk (10) cherishes.

“I really love working as a team,” Tanya said. “And a lot of teamwork goes into [coordinating TEDx], and we all have our separate sub teams in TEDx…but we all get to work with each other and collaborate.”

During Tuesday’s school meeting, TEDx played a video that gave a glimpse of what the annual event will be like for underclassmen who have not yet had the opportunity to attend in-person.

Students can purchase tickets for $25 each by visiting the TEDxHarkerSchool website and clicking on the “Buy Tickets” button on the homepage, or by scanning the QR code on one of the flyers the TEDx team has posted around campus. Students with financial barriers can reach out to upper school business and entrepreneurship teacher Michael Acheatel about a fee waiver. Extra credit opportunities for attending have been confirmed by the Business and Economics department, with some other classes offering it as well.

“We are holding one of the first big, live schoolwide events since school opened back up and I am proud to be a part of that because I know TEDx is always a big hit every year,” TEDx co-curator Yejin Song (12) said. “And with the addition of the great speaker lineup we have this year, I hope to do justice to the TEDxHarkerSchool name.”