Prologue: TEDxVinUniversity is looking for young, talented speakers for this year's event through ‘The TED Factor’ competition. Start voting for your favorite speakers on our official fanpage - https://www.facebook.com/TEDxVinUniversity
Vietnamese seem to love English, that fact culminates in many things we do at school, from English-gifted class, English Club to especially, English public speaking competition. I was no stranger to this because growing up, my teachers had trained me to be a “fighting cock,” ready to conquer any eloquence contests at local, regional, and national levels. Despite the numerous accolades, I upheld a love-hate relationship with English and public speaking. “Speaking in front of the crowd does not have to be so competitive and aggressive,” I often think to myself. And that was when I heard of TED talks.
For the first time, speakers were not speaking to show how well they are good at it. They share, teach, and provoke reflections. For the first time, listeners were not listening to counter-argue or attack. They understand, ponder, and add on. Speeches were not prepared in a 5-minute rush but a result of lifelong experience, failures, and successes. In no time, TED talk videos filled up my computer and TED’s red venue filled my mind. Ever since, my life was set on one goal, to become a TED speaker.
For the first time, listeners were not listening to counter-argue or attack. They understand, ponder, and add on.
It was not easy, though. Standing on the TED stage requires more than just English competence. You need to garner enough achievement and accreditation to persuade people to sit down and listen to you. This is not easy for a girl who just made it to college and grew shy of raising hands to contribute in class. Coming to VinUni was a double-edged sword. The university gives me a perfect opportunity to leverage my English skills but at the same time, shows me that English alone would not help me to stand out from a student body full of international school alumni and English-competition winners.
For a while, I decided to think no more of my TED dream and focus on my studies… until I met them. Do you know the feelings of meeting not one but two like-minded people? I met Tran Dinh Le Hoang after we were put into the same group for our Critical Thinking course. We barely remembered anything from that course, but I came to know that Hoang is a hardcore TED lover aka Chris Anderson fanboy. However, that knowledge had always been kept in the back of my mind until I met Pham Ngan Ha, this time, a TED aspirant with previous experience of running a real TED event.
We instantly got on like a house on fire and started fantasizing about our own TEDx event. Before long, we found ourselves recruiting core team members during VinUni’s military training and having our first in-person meeting at the school canteen, where we talked about something even bigger than TED, an organization of our own.
ReThink was born a month later, in September, 2022 as our team’s wish to scale up into a student-led think tank that encourages people to ReThink - ReLearn - ReInvent through podcast production and public events. But no matter what we do, our hearts are always set on bringing TEDx to VinUniversity. However, things that are worth doing are never easy to do. After working to attract external collaborators to the team, we are faced with many difficulties in getting our own event licensed by TED. Turned out, just three days before we submitted our license application, another team had already done the same. Ironically, when we reached out to them for a collaboration opportunity, they admitted having decided not to proceed with the event, rendering their license invalid. Thankfully, after reapplying and waiting for another 3 months, we finally got our hands on the coveted TEDx license.
Nevertheless, it quickly dawned on us that TEDx is no longer a foreign term among students. TEDxVinUniversity started out when the Vietnamese TED event map was getting crowded. In Ha Noi alone, you can find numerous TEDx fanpages, such as TEDxFTU, TEDxDAV, TEDxVinschool, etc. competing for audience and collaborators’ attention with impressive speaker lists, exciting pre-events, and appealing ticket offerings.
The question is: What does TEDxVinUniversity bring to the table?
To be honest, we were so close to falling into a dilemma, as many pre-event ideas such as exhibitions or talk shows are overused by previous TEDx. This is not to mention that our university is located way too far from the city center and this is our first year of organizing. But in a hard time like this, my habit of looking deep down inside and asking “What is this about” came into handy. To me, TED is a stage for everyone, not just speakers and listeners, but also performers and appreciators. TED itself also stands for Technology - Entertainment - Design. It was never solely about speaking English or using language to attract your audience. What matters is your original idea and it is up to you to decide how you want to convey it.
And that was it, our team finally decided to go a little different by paying tribute to TED’s original values. “The TED Factor” was our latest competition in which young, talented speakers will produce their own performance featuring one out of three special formats, including Technology, Entertainment, or Design. Although we have a 5 minute minimum requirement, maximum length is not applied to encourage speakers to be as creative as possible. Do you think you have what it takes to be a TEDx speaker?
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