Highlights from TEDxJIS: Crossing Paths

“It is amazing that I’m being part of something that is so much bigger than just this room.”

This was the response from of one of our speakers, Cipta Croft-Cusworth, when we asked him to reflect on his experience at the conference. Providing a chance to have an active interaction between audience and speakers, TEDxJIS 2018: Crossing Paths built an intersecting path, connecting them.

The TEDxJIS 2018 conference had the theme of Crossing Paths. With a full house, the audience was filled with anticipation for ideas worth spreading as the event started. The event featured a variety of great stories and ideas from various speakers, which included students, educator, artists, alumni and athletes. In addition, performers presenting the theme with the different type of arts enriched the conference and showed us more than describing with words.

39086936005_fccb7cbf39_o.jpg“Have you ever felt like you’d like to contribute to society through your passion, but you don’t know how?”

Gabriella Gwen answered this question as she started the conference with the voice of music. With a brief musical introduction to her talk, she represented her idea of “empowering people with music” and directed us to show how one’s talent can be used to help society, by showing a connection between music and service.

Artistic interpretations

Between the speakers’ talks, a single harp player, a duo of dancers, and a trio of musicians brought beautiful art to the conference and showed their interpretation of the conference theme. First, Ella and Colleen showed how movement affected space. The second player was to play Fania, who played a beautiful song with her harp; and Hana, Erika and Rintaro produced an incredibly delicate and beautiful intersection of cultures.

There were also other speakers who used art to present their ideas: Gwen and Cipta. Gwen introduced us to her world by showing her self-portrait. Born with profound hearing loss, she had cochlear implants which allowed to have “the best of both worlds,” to have the choice of living in a world of silence or a world hearing.

“Toys are synonymous with playtime, but what if there is more to playtime with toys than meets the eye?”

Cipta is a 39-year-old who never stopped playing with toys. With his toy inside his pocket, he reminded the audience that playtime is as important for adults as it is for children: “Our place in the world is never constant. However, playtime with toys gives us that control. You are able to pretend that you are something you are not, and you may just find that by opening your imagination to new possibilities you can become who you choose to be.”

26112556558_a27fbce4a4_oAs he said, youthful vision, seeing the world through child’s eyes, gives us the capacity to see potential for anything to exist.

Wesley Trisnadi gave us the different look of the world, as he talked of how our senses cross paths during synesthesia. Synesthesia is the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.

Exploring the advantages and disadvantages of synesthesia, Wesley suggests: “Because it does more good than harm, calling it a disorder seems more like a paradox, than an accurate depiction. Therefore, let’s instead call it an EXTRAorder.”

Thought-provoking questions

TEDxJIS 2018 raised a number of thought-provoking questions, such as: “Are we ever the best version of ourselves? How can one’s craft be developed if the comfort zone is not experimented with?”

Timo Fukar, a varsity track athlete, started running in third grade and asked us the above question. From this he learned that there’s no such thing as perfection, because there will always be improvements and limitations. One must always learn something more to strive forward. He said, “You should never be satisfied what you’ve achieved. Once you know that there’s a better caliber, you have to improve.”

Vivian Ng is the only female member in the Central Student Council this year. Vivian shared with us the story of how she was hesitating to run for Grade 9 office when she was a freshman and recalled that her biggest setback was her mindset. From what she said, perception of failure is prominent in teenage girls. It impacts confidence, risk-taking, and innovation which are the key to becoming leader. She remarked that perfection is not a human quality, so step out of your comfort zone and try something that you might fail. Failure doesn’t hinder you but shapes the type of person you will become.

“There is a lack of female leaders in the community. We must not only give them the resources and opportunities needed, but we need to increase encouragement to girls as well. Girls do not step up to leadership when they don’t see themselves as worthy person. However, not believing in your capability will be one of your biggest regrets.”

39984517501_71e78244fc_oJennifer Osborne, an English teacher, strives for evolution in her education career, and believes that students should have a choice. She ensures that students feel challenged but still respected. Educators like her help students become self-directed learners because we truly learn what we try to learn. Her talk reminded us: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

“The intersection could change our trajectories, and today, the intersection of these talks and me as an audience gave me a strong impression.” — Irene Kim, attendee

Between the speeches, there was an intermission when speakers and audience got to interact with each other and enjoy the treats. The cafeteria next to Melati Theater was filled with discussions and countless ideas were shared between the audience. People could write their ideas on huge speech-bubble boards provided at the cafeteria and give video feedback to the organizing team. For example, attendee Irene Kim said: “The intersection could change our trajectories, and today, the intersection of these talks and me as an audience gave me a strong impression.” Another attendee, Jason Osbourne, added: “It was surprisingly informative, and was a great chance for me since I’ve always wanted to participate in TEDx conference.”

Life lessons

“All humans speak the same language. We may not be multilingual but all of us speak the universal language of pain, sadness and happiness, said Natasha Sondakh, who is a full-time poet and part-time translator. Her talk remarked on how and why communication is important. She threw a question to audience: In a global community where knowledge is instant, we think it is so easy to know everything, yet even if a scholar studies all the books in the world, she can’t possibly have access to all the knowledge in the world. Why can’t we grasp it all?

Joshua Giddens’ best memory is sitting around the table and playing games with his family. For him, games are a community. Growing up in Zimbabwe, games provided a lot of entertainment and connection as there wasn’t electricity. When playing games, people participate in each other’s life and share it. They are all searching for a community. Mr. Giddens asked the audience, “Games such as Warhammer require a lot of time and effort, yet why do people invest so much time and money for these games?”

There was another speaker who focused on games, but more about it’s theoretical use. Moses Mayer explored the idea of how game theory can be used to solve issues in pollution. Game theory is known as “the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent, rational decision-makers.” Moses used the game theory called Prisoner’s Dilemma as a reference in his topic. He remarked, “Game theory and mathematics aren’t just subjects that you do at school to improve your GPA. Their applications crosses the boundaries of just theoretical ideas to practical situations encountered in real life — they form the basis of many of the world’s most amazing discoveries.”


The last talk of the conference was presented by Steve Clark, who is now JIS High School principal and has been at this school for 16 years. Using the imagery of “a coffee shop without wifi,” he warned us that, in the 21st century, we have become so immersed in technology that we have overlooked the importance of crossing paths and interacting with other people.

“It was surprisingly informative, and was a great chance for me since I’ve always wanted to participate in TEDx conference.” — Jason Osbourne, attendee

The magic of crossing paths lies in different things, from game theory and synesthesia to our very own leaders in the community. As Mr. Clark said, “crossing paths with another human being has the potential to teach you important life lessons, make you aware of your own personal bias and insecurities, or simply transform your life for the better.”

This was the fourth annual conference hosted by the TEDxJIS Organizing Committee. Since 2016, the team has also organized four smaller Salon events, and there are two more salons scheduled for April 2018.

If you would like to know more about our previous conferences and salons, check out our event pages on TED.com and our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Check back here for updates too. We hope to see you at our next event.

This article was originally written by Sangmin Ha, Yuna Kim, and Nadine Zahiruddin. It has been edited by Claudia Mak, Amit Khanna, and Lane Graciano.

%d bloggers like this: