“Be the change you wish to see in the world, as Gandhi says,” Johanna DeBari, a Keene State College junior reflected. DeBari participated in the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Talk discussion panel in the Night Owl Café on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
This mentality is what Alex Brown, coordinator of Greek Life and Student Leadership, said he was hoping to instill in the minds of students during the second TED Talk at KSC.
Brown learned about TED undergraduate as part of his fraternity. He said, “I’ve always enjoyed the programs and just the wide spectrum of presentations and discussions that have come from the TED programs. I thought it might be a unique opportunity to bring to the community here at Keene State.”
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Ryan Mahan, a KSC sophomore said he heard about the event from Brown.
“He told us it’s about people coming together, listening to their ideas, sharing what they’re passionate about, something I’m trying to get into.”
The basis of the TED Talk is “Ideas worth sharing,” Brown explained, “These ideas that people are talking about, they’re not just talking about them because they feel they have to, these are things they are incredibly passionate about and they want other people to be engaged with and to share their stories.”
He continued, “The power behind some of these programs can be really moving and motivating. I think the opportunity that we have here is to help our students at Keene State [College] see that …when they see a program like the TED Talk, where someone who’s doing these incredible things or has these great ideas, well, that’s what they can do, utilizing their classroom experiences and their involvement here at Keene State [College].”
Brown said he wants students to realize the power they have and opportunities they have to make a difference.
The event began with a 15-minute video presentation from Scilla Elworthy, a peace activist. Elworthy asked, “How do you confront a bully without being a thug?”
She covered alternative ways of dealing with conflict, and how to use anger as a fuel to make peace with our fears and problems.
Elworthy said, “Anger is like gasoline. If you spray it around and somebody lights a match, you’ve got an inferno. [But] if we can put our anger inside an engine, it can drive us forward.”
Following the video a panel discussion was held. The panel consisted of non-violence experts, including Forrest Seymour from the KSC Counseling Center and coordinator of sexual violence prevention and education.
Also on the panel was Kasey LaFlam, education and community outreach coordinator at the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, as well as Kate Kerman from Talk it Out.
Johanna DeBari also spoke. DeBari, a holocaust and genocide studies and sociology major, is the Vice President of the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club. The junior is in the process of publishing research from her experience in Rwanda.
“I think that it was a very casual environment to talk about some really tough topics,” DeBari said about the overall presentation. “I think that it’s a really well structured program that I hope a lot of people will get into,” she said.
DeBari continued and explained, “It was a very inviting atmosphere. It wasn’t someone preaching on a pedestal telling you what you should do and what is right and wrong, it was a casual conversation about my experience, someone else’s experience and you can take whatever you want from it. I definitely think that people got a lot out of it.”
KSC senior, James Carroll was “fired up,” as described by DeBari, after she spoke with him following the panel.
Carrol said of the discussion, “Our presidential candidates are violent, they’re pro war, pro bigger military. I just wanted to hear what people had to say and ask people what they thought about it. Some of these ideas that were presented are maybe some things people can present to themselves.”
“We definitely had an increase in numbers from the first time we did the program,” Brown said of the turnout. He concluded, “I think our panel really provided a lot of different viewpoints, ranging from local community pieces, sexual assault prevention, all the way up to students utilizing their experiences in Rwanda. That broad cross section really helped students connect on a variety of levels.”
Carroll said he hopes for a better turnout next time.
Sean Ballard, KSC sophomore, said he took away some strategies from Elworthy’s video to help him deal with violence in a non-violent way.
“I think that it’s very important for people to remember that you don’t need to be violent to get your point across,” Ballard said.
The next TED Talk is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27 in the Night Owl Café.
Brown hopes to bring a lot of diverse topics to the program, such as “The Modern Impact of Crime,” “The Myth of the Gay Agenda,” and “Photos that Bear Witness to Modern Slavery.” In the meantime, there are many tapings and programs online at www.ted.com.
“We are always looking for suggestions and ideas. We’re trying to find things that will connect with students in different majors and their interests,” Brown said.
As Carroll reflected, “You might not necessarily be able to change the world, but you can start with yourself.”
Kenzie Travers can be contacted at