TEDxAndover Returns With ‘21st Century Citizen’

Twelve students shared their different perspectives on citizenship at Andover’s second annual TEDx conference last Saturday. Tanvi Kanchinadam ’19 and Amiri Tulloch ’18 co-hosted this year’s conference in conjunction with the Tang Institute. Both were previously involved with TEDx — Kanchinadam was last year’s host, and Tulloch delivered a speech last year on online black activism.

“My [Junior] Year, I asked the Tang Institute to create this event through a proposal. I was able to bring it last year and as a host last year — we were able to organize it and bring it together,” said Kanchinadam.

Sarah Bakanosky, Project Coordinator for the Tang Institute, has been working closely with Kanchinadam for the past two years to deliver the best conference possible.

“Tanvi, two years ago, brought us to this idea, and so we really just played a supportive role to the students, just helping get the TEDx license and helping connect the student speakers with Stuart [Paap, who serves as an advisor], and a lot of day-of logistics. We’re so happy and honored to help students for this event,” said Bakanosky.

The “x” in TEDx, denotes a more local experience than the large annual conference hosted by TED. It allows speakers to share ideas on a smaller scale and direct them to specific areas or institutions.

In order to speak at the event, students had to go through an application process that included written essays and a two-minute interview.

“What we were looking for in our speakers was a passion… We weren’t looking for great public speakers because we were looking for people who really truly enjoyed what they were talking about and could really and truly bring to life their experiences as a citizen,” said Kanchinadam.

“I think part of the reason why I applied is that I wanted an opportunity to force myself to sit down and get all of the thoughts that I was confused about on paper and figure myself out,” said Junah Jang ’20, a speaker at this year’s conference.

Jang’s talk focused on stigmas related to optimism and cynicism, especially the presence of those at Andover.

The breadth of topics resonated with audience members, such as Jeannette Zhang ’21.

“I have a deeper understanding of how complex citizenship is because the talks were super diverse. There was one about domestic abuse, and there was another one about communication and social media, so it really opened my eyes to see how citizenship is really complicated, and we really can’t categorize it under one topic,” said Zhang.

Zhang, who frequently watches TED Talks online, appreciated the virtual talks being brought to reality at Andover.

“I’ve watched lots of TED Talks online before, and it was really weird to see people my age delivering speeches that were so eloquent, and it was really good. So, a major takeaway for me is that anyone could do anything as long as they set their mind to it,” said Zhang.

Audience member Roma Kanchinadam valued the concepts that were brought to Andover by the student speakers.

“I don’t know if I could do what those speakers are doing. It seems really difficult,” said Roma Kanchinadam.