x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

TEDx gives pupils a platform to take their ideas to the world

Wellington International School hosted their first TEDx talks this week and streamed the presentations live on Twitter and YouTube.

DUBAI // Speeches given by pupils at the Wellington International School in the emirate were streamed to a global audience via Twitter and YouTube this week.

When 16-year-old Bami Ogunyoue took to the stage on Tuesday night, thousands around the world may haveheard him explain how his skin colour often seemed to overshadow his personality

"I have been asked several times: 'do I play basketball'," he said at the first TEDx organised at the Wellington International School (WIS). "Is it because I am black and tall? It's absurd how being black is seen as a lifestyle and not just my skin colour."

The TEDx concept was inspired by a series of conferences in the US, where speakers shared their ideas about Technology, Entertainment and Design.

Since then, the TEDx talks concept has grown into an international soapbox circuit.

So, on Tuesday, while Bami was sharing his experience with an audience gathered at the school, his talk was being relayed in real-time through YouTube and Twitter, using technology from TED, a group owned by the Sapling Foundation.

Bami and several other schoolmates took to the stage for TEDx, to put forward their ideas and try to get adults thinking about youth issues.

For Bami, it was important that people confronted society's tendency to stereotype others.

"When you walk out from this talk, think about how you want people to see you."

Equally compelling was a skit by Rydhan Nazer, a Grade 11 pupil who wanted people to take off "the mask of lies" they wear to please others.

"The topic is close to my heart as a lot of people often cover up their feelings when they should be sharing it for a more truthful society," he said.

Reydhan said the forum gave young pupils like him a chance to share their opinions confidently.

"We had our teachers' support so that took the pressure off the fact that it was being viewed by people in different parts of the world," he said.

"It also made us feel important."

The youngest duo to perform were Serena Sittnig and Tania El Mallah, both nine, who danced for their audience to prove make-up does not make you beautiful.

"Many people in the UAE think make-up makes them beautiful, but we wanted to say inner beauty matters," said Serena.

She hopes that those who were watching her on social networking sites got the message.

"I was nervous and excited because so many people were watching me," she said. "I would like to do it again."

aahmed@thenational.ae