TEDxSydney brings together curious minds, game-changers and those who seek to be inspired. In 2019, local and international voices at TEDxSydney explored the theme of Legacy, as the event celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
I joined the editorial team in early 2019 as a writer/contributor to help TEDx Sydney create the most inspiring content ahead of the main event. In that busy time, I wrote branded/partner pieces, editorials, and produced interviews.
Some of these articles are here: https://tedxsydney.com/contributor/alex-reszelska/
You have to feel uncomfortable to make a change
For the first time in TEDxSydney’s 10-year history, a speaker couldn’t be present at the event. An audience of 5,000 people saw his pre-recorded speech broadcast through the power of multimedia.
Kurdish-Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani is currently one of the most famous writers in Australia. His book No Friend But the Mountains won the prestigious Victorian Prize for Literature. Yet he made us all feel uncomfortable in our cosy, plush seats at the Sydney’s International Convention Centre. And we needed it.
“Refugees… reduced to a simple picture. But we are human, we exist and we are suffering,” he said, his voice multiplied by the power of 5 gigantic screens.
His writing, he added, was an act of resistance. The only way of fighting for the rights of refugees still detained on Manus Island.
The world is your friend
“Hello, dear friends,” said Eddie Jaku, a 99-year-old the Holocaust survivor after he came up on stage. And when he told us to simply be happy with what we have, we all cried the happy, enlightened tears. Eddie is the self-proclaimed ‘happiest man on earth’. After surviving many war ordeals, he made it his life purpose to smile every day. He is also active in spreading the idea that most of the Buddhist masters agree with – that we need to find contentment and happiness in the smallest of life forms. His speech made us all rise to our feet in applause.
Navigate the ebbs and flows of life with courage
Tom Nash is an Australian music producer and public speaker. As a teenager, he suffered an illness that left him with terrible face scarring and caused the amputation of both his arms and legs. But you would be surprised if you thought that his was a sob story. One of the most popular Sydney DJs, making waves in the clubs and at the festivals, he taught us the powerful lesson in resilience and resourcefulness. His final words sounded like a powerful mantra:
You are just a blip on the universe’s timeline. Act accordingly.
So when a pirate tells you that, you must obey, right?
The healing power of compassion
When a humble Melbourne dentist Sharonne Zaks walked in front of the TEDxSydney audience, seemingly suffering from a bout of stage fright, we all empathised. And then we saw the true face of compassion. Throughout her years of dental practice, Zaks realised that for sex abuse and trauma survivors going to the dentist is extremely triggering. When strapped in a chair without the ability to move or talk amplifies a feeling of powerlessness. So she became an expert in a budding new trend – the mindful health practices. Her amazing contribution was a series of free video resources that help to train dentists all over the world. These simple but powerful tools allow dental practitioners to treat their patients with the gentle compassion they deserve.
Every little bit counts – so pay it forward
Afghan refugee Hedayat Osyan was 17 when the Taliban attacked his village. He had no choice but to flee. After making it to Jakarta, he realised that he’d have to wait many years in limbo before he would receive an official refugee status. So, he made a difficult choice – to follow his dreams by attempting a risky boat journey to Australia. There his life took a new and exciting shape. He moved from the detainment centre on Christmas Island to Sydney. After graduating from a Sydney university, he started a successful construction business. His tiling company, Nick Tiling Services, currently employs 15 refugees. He pays them well and treats with respect.
Osyan left us with a simple question: “Everyone needs inclusion. So if a refugee like me can help another refugee, why can’t you?”
Don’t fret about problems, but create solutions
Sustainability and a genuine care for the planet were priority during the event. There was a general consensus of using only reusable coffee cups. We ate organic and sustainably sourced food options, and attended various workshops and discussions that showed us how to make eco-practices (recycling, DIY) more prevalent in our lives.
But then eco-entrepreneur Kim Graham-Nye showed us how to not only “talk the change”, but also “make the change”. She explained her solution to the millions of used diapers ending up in landfills every day. And all the eco-savvy parents, sick with everyday guilt for polluting the planet, could breathe a sigh of relief (myself included).
So, TEDxSydney, thank you for this year’s deep dive. And I hope these powerful messages move you, as they did me.