The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

TEDxUIUC platforms student voices at Crossroads salon

Om+Badiyani+presenting+during+the+TEDxUIUC+event+at+Illini+Union+on+Tuesday.
Emma Pyatt
Om Badiyani presenting during the TEDxUIUC event at Illini Union on Tuesday.

TEDxUIUC hosted its annual Student Salon at Illini Union on Tuesday. The event featured six student speakers whose topics ranged from meditation to fear of alienation in a new country. 

TEDxUIUC is a registered student organization independently organized by University students and licensed by TED that holds an annual Student Salon in which Illinois students can have their voices amplified.

“It’s a great platform,” said Tavishi Saraf, junior in LAS and member of TEDxUIUC. Saraf helped organize the Student Salon. 

According to Saraf, TED’s global reach makes speaking at TEDxUIUC events desirable for students, saying that TED is known “across cultures and countries.”

The student speakers featured included Om Badiyani, who discussed meditation and mindfulness; Kumuda Subranamyam, who pushed listeners to embrace the act of learning; Meera Kypta, who focused on how we can treat children to become leaders; Xinyuan Cui, who explored his fear in adapting to a new environment; Priyadharshini Sriramlatha, who posed that our passions build our foundations; and Jack Lamorte, who wanted students to learn and grow from a divisive political climate.  

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    Each student was selected by TEDxUIUC on an application basis and related their speech to the theme of the salon: Crossroads. 

    “Students have a unique story — a unique perspective,” said Mia Kaufman, junior in LAS and TEDxUIUC member. “We all come from different, diverse backgrounds and that’s kind of what we look for when we’re choosing students.”

    As a result, the backdrop of Crossroads was used by speakers in varying ways, from Lamorte’s external crossroads in our politics to Sriramlatha’s internal crossroads of our passions and academics. 

    Kaufman believes that being able to hear from a diverse group of speakers like those who spoke at this year’s salon is a reason why students should take the time to come and listen to their peers. 

    And while the six speakers were the headline of the event, the TEDxUIUC team decided to try something new for the opening act. 

    “From my previous experience, we always have the performance just to give the audience some break from the talk,” said Kodchakorn Khemtonglang, graduate student studying bioengineering and TEDxUIUC member.

    During her undergrad in Thailand, Khemtonglang participated in her university’s own TEDx branch, where performances from local musicians were incorporated into the events alongside the speeches.

    Bringing that idea with her to TEDxUIUC, the salon opened with a musical performance by University a capella group The Other Guys. 

    Khemtonglang at first had difficulty finding music groups at the University who were willing to perform so close to finals, “but then the other guy club volunteered themselves and then we started coordinating by telling them that we want something that ties with our theme, which is crossroads,” Khemtonglang said.

    Though the TEDxUIUC members were content with how the salon turned out, they felt a schedule change could help boost the number of attendees. 

    “We want to make it at a time where it’s convenient for everyone, not during the finals season, not during the end of the semester when everyone is already dead,” Saraf said.

    As the TEDxUIUC team aims to expand its local reach into next semester, the members are mindful of the value their events can give, regardless of the number of attendees.

    “It’s a really good community,” Khemtonglang emphasized. “That’s why I keep finding TEDx in every community that I go to and I feel like regardless of your background, regardless of your expertise, you can find yourself belonging to TEDxUIUC.” 

     

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