From 10 am to 4 pm, I heard from 12 presenters, which included two musical performers - all of whom were Fulbright alumni. Speakers included a freelance science journalist, judge, museum director, professors and artists in various disciplines. David Patrician, a former Fulbright Young Journalist, hosted and moderated the event.
This year's theme was "Significance and Singularity." I have no idea what that means, but here is what the website says :
"Exploring the concept of the richness of the single point of data; that a particular thought, act, or individual person has the capacity to initiate and propagate the work of progress that affects the entire world."
I prefer talks that are more personal and also express a clear point of view. I thought three speakers out of the 12 succeeded on this level. For me, these were the talks that stood out.
- Professor of American Literature Hassan Mekouar of University Mohammed C, Rabat, gave his 15-minute talk in dramatic free verse, which outlined how edible trash and packaging could solve world hunger and overabundant trash. I thought his presentation style was refreshing, unique and clever.
- Researcher Özgür Bolat of Bahçeşehir Üniversitesi talked about the happiness myth and how schools create unhappy children. Bolat argued how the need for approval negatively affects all behaviors and feelings in life. It was good fodder for a lively debate. If competition and grades adversely affect education and the well-being of children, what would be a better alternative in modern capitalistic societies?
- International Criminal Court President Sang-Hyun Song spoke about his childhood experiences during the Korean War. He gave vivid accounts of the atrocities of war, describing the nauseating smell of hundreds of dead bodies on the street. "Today, that terrible smell has not left my memories," Song said.
I had a chance to mingle with Song and Mekouar, as well as with BroachReach founder Dr. John Sargent and freelance science journalist Dan Drollette, over pink champagne and sandwiches.
I also enjoyed the German Fulbright Alumni Association image video, whose world premiere concluded the day's program. Narrated by David Patrician, the 10-minute video takes the viewer through the founding and goals of the Fulbright Program, as well as the German Fulbright Alumni Association.
As a volunteer for the event, it seems that I will be writing a piece for tedxfulbright.org and also for the Fulbright Academy's quarterly newsletter. Stay tuned.