First part of LeaderShape vision: TEDxYouth@Doha

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It’s been quite a while since I last posted something here. You could say that things got the better of me that I couldn’t even recollect and process all my thoughts into words.

Last time I left you open with my previous entry about how my LeaderShape vision now began to materialize into 2 separate and worthwhile TEDx events post-TEDGlobal 2011. What were they? TEDxYouth@Doha in November 19, 2011 and TEDxEducationCity in Q1 2012 (Check it here for a flashback).

I’ve been working with a team of 16 people including myself to pull-off the 1st TEDxYouthDay in Qatar as it joined more than 100+ other events around the globe to celebrate UN Universal Children’s Day. As it had to be held between November 19 – 21 to count as part of TEDxYouthDay, it was evident that 19th was the only option as it was a Saturday.

I had even taken part in a TED Conversation, and then I was quoted for my answers when they had put up a blog entry on their official TEDx blog (Check out the entry here). Just the significance of my contribution being featured further reinforced my commitment to making this event worthwhile for the youth.

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What was our biggest challenge?

How do we educate and inform the youth about TED and TEDx?

It seemed like insurmountable odds, and I predicted that more than 75% of them woul not even know about it. Compound this with trying to cover as many schools as possible, and that also under different education systems. Quite a feat to pull off, especially when I still recall the reasons on why I chose to make it happen; you could say that TED, the TEDx and TED team, and even people from Qatar were the source. Some were not open to such things as they haven’t kept pace with new educational breakthroughs, while others were keen on experimenting with it and dove in head first.

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Florent and Omer (pictured above, who are also LeaderShape graduates in Qatar) from Northwestern University supported me from the early days (which was from October 2010). Here’s another thing about these two: they also attended LeaderShape’s 25th anniversary celebration when they were studying abroad in Evanston, IL. They even jumped aboard for TEDxYouth@Doha since the very day I got my license approved. You won’t believe how long it took to get it. Any guesses? (Hint: it won’t be as long as you would normally think)

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Then began our efforts to build up our team to handle the potential influx of more than 300+ youth. We chose to set a benchmark for what should be done in Qatar; our event was bilingual with live translation, and we went out of our way to make our event fully accessible that would be all-inclusive. Nobody would be turned away if they had any disability, as we felt that everyone should have the opportunity of being part of a global conversation about the youth’s shared future. We even took it further to have it livestreamed for the world to see and enjoy.

71 days and 16 people is all that I had in my hands. We know what all we went through, as challenges began to manifest themselves with each and every day. Sounds like a lot of ground to cover within our short time span, but what did I learn from LeaderShape? A ‘healthy disregard for the impossible’ and I forged on with my team to make this event a reality. We didn’t want to sap the youth’s expectations, but we chose to start off small enough to pique their curiosity and build up support for next year’s.

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Showing the youth of Qatar that TEDxYouthDay is something that they should be part of was quite a challenge. However, numerous opportunities came knocking on our door. We also contributed to the official TEDxYouthDay introduction video that would be played at every TEDxYouth event happening worldwide between November 19 – 21. Our footage was selected, though it was but a short segment (around the 0:55 mark).

You could say that we had the honor of helping to represent other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region hosting TEDxYouth events.

We also committed to webcasting our event to the world, so that people across Qatar could also watch it. The stats for the webcast made my jaws drop, as over 3,000+ viewers tuned in and 50% of them came from Qatar.

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What unfolded after the event really touched my heart, and I realized that I had a promised commitment to myself to keep this torch lit for next year’s. The youth have showered their support and even asking for another one, but I told them to wait till November 2012.

I’ll leave you with this photo from the conclusion of the event, when most of my core organizing team were on stage.

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You can even check out some of my event’s contribution on the official TEDxYouthDay website from the following links:

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What’s next after this? Besides TEDxYouth@Doha in November 2012, there is but another TEDx event, and it’s been in the planning for more than 1 year. Many TEDx events of the ‘university’ type are already themed and tailored to each one of their campuses. What if I told you that mine will be taking it further and will integrate over 6 universities? Here in Qatar, we already have the privilege of having 6 American branch campuses but it goes even further.

Imagine a TEDx event that brings them all together, and also extends that opportunity to the home campuses located in their respective states in the U.S. It’s an opportunity to truly have each of these universities to be part of a conversation that is unfolding 1000s of miles away and they are still part of the Qatar Foundation family with the other universities. It would also serve to show the globalized nature of higher education that has transcended many boundaries…

This is TEDxEducationCity, and has been part of my reshaped and redesigned LeaderShape vision for quite a while.

Make sure to pencil in March 2012, as you can watch it live wherever you are in the world. Looks like more Qatar LeaderShapers will be joining together.

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For your pleasure, check out my Storify of the event

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