‘Emotional … enlightening … honest’: TEDxJISWomen 2018 highlights

Our first TEDxJISWomen conference, held last Saturday, was a big success both inside and outside the JIS community. For many, it was their first TEDxJIS event — including some of the student organizers! Others were loyal attendees who had participated in TEDxJIS events since our salons two years ago. This included Grade 12 student Dewi Laurente, who performed more of her original poems: “Letter to a Woman” and “Morena.”

TEDxJISWomen was a webcast event, so there were no live speakers. Instead, we featured speakers who had just given their talks during the previous week, at the TEDWomen 2018 conference in Palm Springs, California. Thanks to a scholarship from the Skoll Foundation, TEDxJIS co-advisor Lane Graciano had been invited to attend TEDWomen. She shared her experience and a few photos, including one with Chris Anderson, lead curator of the annual TED Conference. It was under Anderson’s guidance that, in 2006, TED posted its first talks online. The videos went viral and TED Talks acquired the well-known tagline, “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

After the Q&A about the Palm Springs conference, we began the webcast, which featured all of Session 5 from TEDWomen. This included the talk by Carla Harris, the Morgan Stanley executive who busted the myth of meritocracy in the workplace. To get ahead at work, Harris advised, get yourself a sponsor: someone who will “pound the table on your behalf” in closed-door meetings. Harris introduced us to the concept of “relationship currency,” which is the best way to get a sponsor. Her talk was voted “most inspiring” by our attendees.

The talk that made most people laugh was all about the world’s slowest mammals: sloths. Lucy Cooke, an award-winning animal documentarian, showed how some sloths look like the Beatles while others are more of “a cross between a pig and a Wookie.” We learned more about these “happy hairy hammocks” — which can fall asleep hanging on a tree — than we probably thought we wanted to! Cooke founded the Sloth Appreciation Society to remind those of us who live in fast-paced societies to slow down and enjoy “life in the sloth lane.”

There were also tears mixed in with the laughter. Many attendees agreed that comedian Nora McInerny’s talk made them feel the most uncomfortable. Four years ago, after a miscarriage and the death of her father, McInerny lost her husband to brain cancer. Her straight-from-the-shoulder talk summarized the ways in which she dealt with incredible grief, and some of those ways were discomfitingly funny, such as co-founding the Hot Young Widows Club. McInerny has since not moved on but “moved forward.” She lets her grief exist alongside her new life as the mother of four children and wife of Matthew, whom she jokingly calls her “current husband.”

These and many other talks from TEDWomen 2018, which are recapped on the TED Blog, sparked a lively discussion after the screening. In a post-event survey, our attendees said the experience was “emotional,” “enlightening” and “honest.” For most of the student organizers, it was a valuable learning experience in preparation for our main conference next semester.

After this success, we look forward to seeing familiar and new faces in the crowd of next semester. We hope TEDxJIS 2019 will receive the same (or even more!) enthusiasm as last year’s conference, and we sure hope you are as excited as we are! Click here for information, and check back on this site for news about registration.

Featured photograph: After watching the webcast, Leaena, Alex, Angelica, Yunori and Prisha discuss “How does JIS show up?” Photos from TEDxJISWomen 2018: Murwanto Atmadji. Photos from TEDWomen 2018: Marla Aufmuth and Callie Giovanna / TED.

The highlights were originally written by Yunori Sarah Triputri and have been edited by Lane Graciano.

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