Sunday, April 21, 2013

My first TEDxSingapore event. On 20 Apr 2013


Special thanks to CL, I received a complimentary ticket to yesterday's TEDxSingapore's event. The event was sold-out and I was very thankful for the opportunity to attend what would be my very first TEDxSingapore event in my life-time!

The event was held at Bugis+ Joyden Hall. Wonderful thanks to the event organizers and the people who have made the event a success.

The theme for TEDxSingapore's event on 20 Apr 2013 was "Our Future, We Will Make!". There were many inspiring speeches and sharings. Many thanks to the insights shared by the speakers and the performers.

Let me attempt to document my key learning points and experience from this event on this blog:

Parag's Beyond Population reminded me of my gratitude to live in this extraordinary country called Singapore. His speech seeks to ask how Singapore could continue to remain extraordinary.

Zakaria Zainal's documentation of the portraits and anecdotes of the retired Singapore Gurkhas reminded me that we as human beings are interconnected. Our shared experiences and sense of history do transcend nationalities and territories. I felt touched to learn that many of the retired Singapore Gurkhas whom Zakaria Zainal had met were proud of Singapore's achievements.

With wit and humour, William Wan who is head of the Singapore Kindness Movement puts forth the idea that "kindness begins with me!" If we hope for Singapore to be a kinder place, why not start with being kind ourselves?

During the TEDxSingapore event that I had attended, a few Singaporean of the Day documentaries were broad-casted. The project, Singaporean of the Day, created by Jeff Cheong and his friends reminded me that the people from all walks of life in Singapore have their dreams and their hopes. Each of us do have a special story of hope to tell. I was particularly moved by the story of Joanne Poon:

Bhavani Prakash's presentation with her apt use of apples to illustrate the interconnectedness between us and the planet Earth reminded each of us to take at least some humble steps to work towards a more sustainable environment. We have only one Earth, and if what we do to our only planet will affect us eventually. I have found her five steps to "sustain'apple happiness" to be interesting. These were: 1) Acquire less, 2) Push away synthetic chemcials, 3) Pay it forward, 4) Learn from Nature, 5) Exercise your body and mind. Bhavani founded Eco WALK the Talk, an advocacy non-profit environmental website in 2008.

What left an impression in me from Moh Hon Meng's sharing was the suggestion of how we could take steps to be more inventive. The three steps of the Inventive Process suggested were: 1) Practise Creating, 2) Practise Wasting (i.e. to put our effort and time at risk, not knowing what the outcome could be), 3) Practise Asking. He shared that to enable Singapore to continue to be successful, it is necessary to continue to invent ourselves.

Elaine Lam's rendition of The Little Blue Princess and her personal journey to becoming a local jazz singer-songwriter was inspiring in its way. I like how she concluded her performances with a statement that vaguely went "Don't be afraid to dream because you may walk up to the rainbow!"

After lunch, Thaddeus Lawrence in his zestful and humourous style, share two personal experiences involving sky-diving and salsa dancing. Through these experiences, he put forward the notion that great leaders push us beyond our perceived comfort zones and that leadership is about making heroes and celebrating heroes.

Claire Leow's presentation on Bukit Brown Cemetery was personally moving. Did you know that Bukit Brown is the largest Chinese cemetery outside China? Not only is it a place full of heritage and history, it is the habitat of many animals and birds. She shared how her experiences with Bukit Brown had helped her reconnect to Singapore after eight years overseas. If we could make our future, why not get Bukit Brown Cemetery listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as well?

Wonderful illustrations by Tim from Art of Awakening.

Sunny Singh's presentation on Stroke and TARA (Therapy and Rehabilitation Assistance) left a deep impression. He spoke about how he is creating a programme using Kinetic technology to improve the efficacy of stroke rehabilitation for the elderly. Why not make rehabilitation exercises fun?

I have not heard Teng Yen Ling play the ukelele in person, yet it was a light-heartening experience watching an impromptu recording of her jamming out tunes on the NUS shuttle bus. Maybe we could perform an act of courage by merely stepping out of our comfort zone? Sometimes, it is amazing how seemingly insignificant actions like jamming out tunes on a bus could put a smile on people's faces. Oh well, of course there will be people with differing opinions nevertheless. Imagine a future where everyone wears a smile.

Listening as the art of perceiving possibilities stuck in my mind when I listened to Tong Yee's presentation. Are we really listening when we think we are? Do we hear the possibilities that could be hidden in our conversations with others? While I find it hard to connect the dots in Tong Yee's presentation, I like his notion that the roles of an educator are as best as I have made out: 1) To allow students to heal from their past hurts, 2) To give the tools, 3) To believe in the students. Perhaps then, we can make our future more glorious?

Deborah Emmanuel's spoken word performances connected with me. I suppose it was because of the authenticity of her performance. It was humbling to witness how people could heal through expressing themselves through art. Deborah is a performance poet. Her rendition of The Storm was heartfelt and authentic.

Kevin Lester's presentation and his rap performance reminded me that we can each leave behind a legacy in our own special way.

Laurence Lien's presentation reminded us the need for moral courage to effect change. He ended the presentation with Mahatma Gandhi's quote "You must be the change you want to see in the world", and he then asked the audience to consider his suggestion: "Please act like we believe we can change Singapore".

Bob Lee's sharing of his project in which he taught photography to visually-challenged people was humbling. He reminded me not to underestimate our ability to learn new things. He also reminded me not to understand our own skills to make an impact.

Veronica Gamez shared about her how her experiences in Mexico had in some ways shaped her and on her work with Aidha, a not-for-profit micro-business school dedicated to enriching lives through financial education. She spoke about how migrant workers in the world can be empowered to become agents of positive change to transform their local communities back in their own hometown.

Kumaran Rasappan's presentation discussed how success and failure are inseparable. He suggested that regardless of the outcome, failure and success is our own perception. In every success is a failure, and in every failure, is a success.

Overall, I have had a positive experience attending the TEDxSingapore. Other than getting myself connected with new ideas, I had the pleasure to engage in conversations with others and to connect with them.


Other blog posts on TEDxSingapore, 20 Apr 2013:
Summary of TEDxSingapore 2013: Our Future We Will Make #TEDxSingapore by Natalie Copuroglu.

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