Lewis & Clark’s first TEDx event, “The Deconstruction of Everything We Know,” will provide the LC community with an opportunity to share and engage with their powerful ideas. The event is scheduled to take place Oct. 19 later this year. TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, began as a nonprofit in the 1980s devoted to spreading ideas in short, powerful talks. The TEDx event is student-organized and was inspired by Tuse Mahenya ’21.
Mahenya, an English major and political economy minor from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, started the licensing process for TEDx last fall in hopes of giving students a platform to share their ideas. She hopes that the theme will prompt speakers to share experiences where their initial ideas were challenged.
Before coming to LC, Mahenya participated in a TEDx event while attending a United World Colleges (UWC) high school in eSwatini, formerly Swaziland.
“I came from a UWC and then came to the U.S. and was obviously very shocked,” Mahenya said. “UWC values pushes you to listen to people, especially when you don’t agree with them. And that’s just something that I didn’t feel like anyone, or very few people, have in the classroom here … There’s no way someone will change if they’re too scared to say exactly how they feel. For example, in the extreme version, racist people will continue to be racist because you’re not telling them to stop. You’re just making them do their racism really quietly.”
Mahenya thinks that TED is a great platform for people to listen, as people tend to view these talks even when they do not initially agree with them. She wants this kind of platform for students here at LC. Mahenya is currently working with her co-organizer, Ariel McGee ’21, as well as a team of six other students, in order to prepare for the implementation of TED next fall semester.
McGee is excited to see a TEDx event happening on campus because she thinks it will allow student voices to be heard in an unconventional fashion.
“Lewis & Clark hosts many symposium (sic), but those talks can be restricting because they have such specialized and specific topics,” McGee said. “With a TEDx event, anyone can speak about any subject they choose, and to me that’s extremely liberating. I chose to co-organize this event with Tuse (Mahenya) because when I was younger, I was homeschooled. TED talks were really formative to my individual beliefs and to my education as a whole.”
Eva Magaña ’20 is on the student committee for TEDx.
“Even if they are not presenting at the event, they can still attend and be involved that way,” Magaña said. “This is an opportunity for the LC community to learn from others, and learn things they, as students, might not be learning about in class. TEDxLewis&ClarkCollege is also built to be the platform that helps inspire people to engage with each other. I learn so much from my peers and what we are doing is just providing the space for that deeper learning.”
LC’s TEDx event will be about three hours long, featuring four to six speakers and two showings of recorded talks from larger TED events. The speakers will have the entire summer to prepare their talks, as well as the beginning of the fall semester to rehearse with one another. Since TED requires each speaker to have a mentor, many of the mentors will be LC professors.
Mahenya hopes that TEDx will become a recurring event at LC and that every student will experience at least one TED event during their college experience.
“I’d like TEDxLewis&ClarkCollege to be an event as memorable as the Race Monologues, or Once Upon A Weekend here,” Mahenya said. “I think it offers a similar sense of connection and belonging for the LC community. It provides a voice for ideas that we would otherwise not hear; it gives a new perspective to ideas we’ve heard one too many times. TED has done an impeccable job of creating this image and setting a literal stage for conversations that matter, so I hope that our TEDx emulates the same kind of sensation.”