On Oct. 24, an audience of one hundred convened in the NYU Shanghai auditorium for the much-anticipated TEDx NYU Shanghai. The TEDx Program was declared in the official opening video on the day to be an attempt at initiating a “global conversation” and highlighting the “best ideas” in each community. The talk was a branch of the well-known TED Talks program that allows independent organizers to recreate TED-like events around the world. Our independent organizer was NYU Shanghai’s student-run club, the Undergraduate Business Association (UBA). At the event, UBA’s president Alex Mayes revealed how TEDx was the fruition of a long process of efforts to get it under way. A previous request to hold a TEDx event had been denied in February after the proposed topic was adjudged to be ‘way too specific’. Accordingly, Friday’s event was planned, approved and run under the general theme of ‘Interconnectivity’.

Emceed by the ever-witty Associate Professor Andrea Jones-Rooy, the series of talks began with an examination of the term ‘interconnectivity’ by Vice-Chancellor Jeff Lehman. Beginning with the linguistic and evolving into the conceptual, Professor Lehman unpacked a moral framework of ‘interconnectivity’ much in the same fashion as he’s known to approach GPS topics. “To connect,” he declared, “means to end separation” and then questioned whether separation was always negative. Prof. Lehman proceeded to talk about the strong ties between interconnectivity and “social improvement” in the modern world. Sophomores also would have been pleased with Professor Lehman’s reference to his GPS co-lecturer from last year, perpetual Nobel-candidate Professor Paul Rohmer. Other NYU Shanghai professors were included on the speakers list, including Professor Clar Shirky (who grasped the attention of the audience by speaking about attention) and Professor Xiaojing Wang (who described processes of interconnectivity at a neurological level).

In addition to NYU Shanghai members, there were two guest speakers from the Shanghai expat community who were invited to present their perspectives on interconnectivity. John Pasden, the founder of both Sinosplice.com and AllSet Learning, described the connection between technology and the future of language-learning in the 21st century with repeated allusions to flying cars. The Head of Marketing for IKEA China, Michelle Hammar, also featured in the talk, giving a speech titled “Interconnectivity in Business”. Her speech featured hypothetical Chinese families and Rubik’s Cubes to make the point that it is ultimately people who are at the heart of business processes.

To top it off, various talks by members of the student-body at NYU Shanghai. Sophomore Giulia Wegfahrt started her speech with the question “Why do you like to travel?” into a rumination on how interconnectivity between cultures can potentially develop more encompassing concepts of humanity. Freshman Michelle Huang also talked about a travelling experience of her own – to Tahiti as a volunteer – and how it caused her to realize that money did not contribute to happiness. Sophomore Musa Malik, who is an ambassador for the Pakistan National Youth Assembly to China, produced an energetic account of his summer working amongst the slums in his country allowed to him to further connect with his country. Marcus Orellano, a freshman, ended  the proceedings with a talk about the manner and speed at which technology has propounded the dissemination of ideas and interconnectivity in the world.

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This article was written by Abiral Chitrakar Phnuyal. Send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Kadallah Burrowes

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