Harvard Cuddles Its TEDx


Photo by Kevin Steinberg
Photo by Kevin Steinberg

By Michelle Barmazel

On the afternoon of April 12th, 2014, I stood quaking in my shoes about to step on stage for my 8 minute TEDx talk at the School of Education.  I was at the TEDxHGSE conference and I thought back to how I wound up in this most uncomfortable yet exhilarating situation.

In September I had wandered aimlessly among the booths at the Ed school student club fair, perusing the opportunities in Education.  As I turned away from a booth, the person sitting behind the table reached out for my arm. “Would you be interested in helping to organize our TEDx talk?  We’d love to have members from the other schools!” She urged.  Hmm, I was intrigued but anticipating being overwhelmed in the near future, politely listened and agreed to come to the planning meeting.

At the planning meeting I met the rest of the team.  It was made up mostly of HGSE students, a law student and me, from HKS.  I casually mentioned what brought me to grad school, the quest to improve the education arena for our country’s highly gifted who were foundering in the wake of NCLB (“No Child Left Behind”) and to bring understanding of their special needs to the classroom.  Suddenly I was told I had to speak at the conference.  “Speak?” I repeated.  I had never really done much public speaking, although I had always intended to.  “Okay, I guess…”

So that was how I found myself several months later, an MC/MPA on the stage in Longfellow hall that bright Saturday afternoon.  Luckily, I wasn’t alone.  I had Gaurav Keerthi, Jonathan Chang and Shawn Holden Cheung along with me proudly representing the Kennedy school.  Gaurav spoke on, well public speaking, Jonathon about finding your path and Shawn about community development.  In total, there were almost 30 contributors speaking that day from all over Harvard and the community (accented by the delicious snacks donated by organizations as Kind Bars, SwissBakers, Chipotle, Insomnia and Zenify).  Each one enlightened us in some new way.

All in all, it was a great experience and the talks are scheduled to be posted online sometime next month.

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