From Nov. 18 to 20, TEDxEmory hosted a series of events with themes ranging from climate change to mental health as part of their TEDxYouth series. The talks showcased relevant, contentious and relatable topics for college students. As events were held throughout the weekend, it meant that more students were able to partake in discussions about issues emphasized by TEDxYouth.

Climate Change

Set in the Math and Science Center’s planetarium on the evening of Nov. 18, the TEDx event on climate change showcased a series of videos, accompanied by a talk from College sophomore Angela Jiang. Merging climate change with the recent presidential election, Jiang brought to the table the idea that global warming is a stoppable danger.

“Do not let politics be a blocker for any sort of optimism,” Jiang said.

She argued that regardless of our politicians’ views, changes to combat climate change can still be made. Some videos to fully illustrate the problem of global warming, including one from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” followed Jiang’s talk. “An Inconvenient Truth” supported the urgency of climate change, portraying a variety of engaging and effective information on the issue.

Social Justice

TEDx members created a relaxed atmosphere filled with ambient music, plenty of sweets and casual chatter at the social justice event, which was held outside of the Anthropology Building the evening of Nov. 18. Using videos ranging from a Buzzfeed interview with a gender nonconforming parent to a TED talk by a transgender Filipino model, College sophomore Kenny Igarza illustrated that discrimination can take many forms. Thus, activists should work to counteract the labels that society impresses on people.

“Everybody needs to be aware that there are social justice issues on campus,” Igarza said.

The night also housed discussion, with people opening up about their own lives and personal struggles. Poetry, anecdotes and reflections by audience members were also integral to the event, allowing audience members to easily see how social injustice is ubiquitous, even in a school as diverse as Emory.

Mental Health

In White Hall 208, Emory Dark Arts collaborated with Residence Life from Complex Hall and The Pulse to put on a two-hour performance titled “Mental Health and, well, Being Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

“The event was designed to just be a blank space platform for students to take the opportunity to, in whatever way felt best for them, express experiences that have otherwise been invisible or stigmatized,” College senior Nathaniel Sawyer, an event speaker and organizer, said.

For some, the event exceeded their expectations.    

“Coming in, I didn’t really know what to expect but … people were just able to openly talk about their experiences,” College junior Sundus Tameez said. “In my past three years, I haven’t been able to attend an event of this nature or really [have] this open of a forum.”

Regardless of the format, each performance concluded with a similar message: we deserve support too. As Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Emory has been overstaffed this semester, the event articulated that students need more mental health support on campus. Sawyer mentioned that an 1836 Dinner would take place this Wednesday, Nov. 28 which will allow students to voice their concerns about mental health services at Emory to a CAPS senior staff member.

ATO Speakeasy

Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) and TEDx collaborated again this year on the rebranded Speakeasy, previously known as Salon. The fraternity, known for sponsoring arts events, hosted several different speakers who covered diverse topics including local ecosystems, eating disorders and self-expression.

College senior Bethany Studnicky spoke at the event about her work as an artist in relationship to her mental health.

“It was the first time I’ve ever actually shared that on a public stage … it was nice for me to be able to expand upon the inspiration and the meaning behind my artwork rather than just the artwork itself at face value,” Studnicky said in an interview with the Wheel after her speech.

Although the audience consisted of roughly 100 people, speakers were able to talk about their passions in a very relaxed manner due to the event’s location.

College sophomore and ATO brother Jake Gruber, who helped plan the event, said that fraternities can facilitate events such as TEDxYouth, which can stimulate student discussion.

“We thought we might as well bring it in here and allow ourselves to be exposed to all these different ideas and perspective[s],” Gruber said. “It’s just an eye-opening experience and it allows our minds to expand, perspectives to be opened to and allow[s] for a more difficult conversation to be had on Emory’s campus.”

Gruber said that he is excited for ATO to partner with TEDx in the future.

“I’m looking forward to [the] very next semester when we will be able to create an even better version of Speakeasy,” Gruber said.

Rathskellar Comedy Improv Troupe

The Rathskellar Comedy Improv Troupe hosted a question-and-answer session at Peet’s Coffee Sunday, Nov. 20. The group performed a few example skits and explained how they learned the art of improv and what the art means to them.

“Improv focuses so much on building relationships and in order to have a really quality scene; you need to have a bond established [with your teammates],” College senior and member of the group Michael Green said. “In any tough situation you’re going through, it’s helpful to have somebody there.”

In such a relaxed setting with such easy going people, the event was a relieving break from what were otherwise serious events throughout the weekend.