Ideas Worth Spreading

TEDxNYUAD is part of the TEDx series, a program that brings the spirit of TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading to local communities around the globe.

This year’s theme, “In Plain Sight” focuses on ideas or concepts that become hidden in plain sight due to either our constant exposure to them or lack of noticeable alternatives. It is open-ended, meaning that any idea in the (social) sciences, psychology, art, engineering, culture or other disciplines can be discussed. Our speakers come from a diverse background from faculty to the student body, bringing in various perspectives to the conversation. This event is an annual event that aims to share ideas worth spreading to an international audience of many interests.

The theme of TEDxNYUAD 2019 hinges on this idea of advancing social thought and bringing about positive social impact. Our talks this year discuss everything from Rock and Roll music to climate activism and child hijabis. Each talk discusses an obstacle that these speakers have encountered in plain sight. Obstacles pervade our everyday lives, problems as small as a broken lightbulb and as large are systemic racism. These obstacles challenge us to create new solutions. Through trial and error, we figure out what works. Just as problems can be in plain sight, so too can the solutions.

The speakers for the evening are:

Karl Kalinkewicz “Rock and Roll is Dead: Who Committed the Crime and Will There Be Justice?”

Rock and Roll is dead. The way we listen to and consume music is radically different now than it was at the turn of the millennium. How did this happen, and will we ever go back to the “good old days” of rock and roll? This talk will be focused through the lens of Karl’s own personal journey as a 34 year old who has existed right in the middle of this change, and will look at how this change has manifested itself in our current society.

Emma Kay Tocci “We Need to Start Telling Americans They’re Ignorant”

There is a common view that US Americans have the tendency to be ignorant of the world and their country’s place in it, a fact Emma learned the hard way when she began her studies at NYU Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. While trying to navigate and understand her own ignorance, she learned that many factors contribute to this problem, and its reach extends past her country’s borders. She believes politeness and fear of embarrassment keep us from realizing and overcoming this ignorance, so she hopes to challenge the societal pressure around admitting what we don’t know, and allowing others the chance to educate us.

Peter Dicce “The Sport Majlis: Why it’s essential to our collective future”

Within the current environment and wave of nationalism, sports continues to become increasing globalized with teams comprised of diverse players from various parts of the world. Some of the best teams are highly globalized; Manchester City, San Antonio Spurs etc. As a result, the traditional locker room is evolving and becoming more inclusive, accepting, and progressive. The locker room of today is actually a “sport majlis”, a gathering space where players from all over the world are welcomed, develop relationships, and discuss ideas. The sport majlis is the antithesis of nationalism and a space that exists throughout the world. In the context of sport activism, the sport majlis has the potential to be a powerful platform for purposeful social change and arguably our best chance of messaging that “we need to take care of each other and learn to love and live.”

Jagan Narayanan Subramanian “How Buildings Perform – The Invisible Actor.”

How do buildings influence the way we feel and shape the way we live without us even realizing it? As a senior civil engineering and theatre major, Jagan is interested in the relationship between the design of our built environment and the performativity of everyday life. He draws on personal experiences and the related fields of neuroscience (how buildings ‘mean’ and how our brains are naturally programmed to understand it), phenomenology (how our individual memories are stored in buildings to form a collective experience over time) and semiotics (how buildings entice us with alternate realities) to see how buildings have historically contributed to the formation of these social codes and how if used correctly, good building designs could serve as a way to undo social hierarchies and create more inclusive communities in the 21st century.

Alta Mauro “The slippery slope of everyday horror”

After watching Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’, Alta reflects on the everyday horrors we encounter. We watch the violent scenes of this horror film and shudder at the gore, but not all of us shudder at the slights to the main character’s character, dignity, humanity which precede and make way for the brutality; the vicious rhetoric used to portray him as subhuman, long before he is quite literally brainwashed and assaulted physically. What would happen if more of us were willing to see, hear, and acknowledge the inhumane ways that some of us are disregarded, misrepresented, or manipulated, which make it easier-less newsworthy- for us to neglected, abused, or even killed? Could we curb- or even erase- systemic oppression by first acknowledging everyday injustices lurking in plain sight?

Rastraraj Bhandari “What Climate Activists are doing wrong?”

Rastraraj Bhandari is a senior studying Economics with a strong passion for the environment. In his talk ‘The Mountains are Melting’, Rastra highlights the impacts of accelerated glacial melting in the Himalayas and the importance of taking immediate action. Over the summer, Rastra lived in the wilderness of the Nepalese mountains studying the perception of local people on climate change and working on a book about the pressing perils to the Himalayas, and its manifold consequences. From exploring local perception of climate change being an act of god to providing insight on the respondents’ claim of climate change being a hoax, Rastra furthers the present discourse on climate change. The Mountains are Melting will highlight the impacts of accelerated global warming in the Himalayas and a unique perspective on how youths can prove to be the potential solution.

Abraham Okbasslaise Hdru “Conscious Guide to Gentrification”

Over the past year, Abraham has been working extensively on how communities navigate the effects of gentrification in their neighborhoods. As part of his data collection, he lived for seven months in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where I examined the gentrification-induced community mobilization of the Latino and Hasidic Jewish communities. During his stay, the topic of gentrification came up again and again, and it seemed like a topic on everyone’s mind, but with vast variation in peoples vocabulary and understanding of the causes of this process. Thus, the idea of this talk has evolved out of the need to equip people with a better understanding of the nuances of how gentrification is caused by individuals embedded in larger socio-economic conditions, and to inform in particular students how we could mitigate these effects in the future to come. He wants to share with the listeners of where the sociological term gentrification comes from, the most recent findings in the academic literature, the global phenomenon of gentrification, and potential solutions of how we could be more sustainable in our own actions.

Tala Hammash “When being strong is the easy way out”

Stepping out of a comfort zone entails doing something or responding to situations in ways to which our minds do not automatically default. Most of the time and the way this concept is taught revolves around staying strong in times when it is difficult to stay strong. But what happens when “strength”, which is typically seen as a trait that requires effort to attain, is within a person’s comfort zone? What happens when being strong is easy? In this talk, Tala demonstrates how and why it is courage and not strength the main ingredient in growth.

Imen Masmoudi “I am a child hijabi- my decision or my parents?”

Many young muslim women are discriminated for wearing the hijab at a young age. Despite this, Imen decided to put on a hijab even at the young age of thirteen. Drawing on personal experiences, Imen relates the importance and the effect of being a child hijabi.

Maitha AlSuwaidi “Where Are The Female Arab Athletes?”

In this TEDx talk, I will talk about the role of women in sports, and how women are, to this day, overlooked whether it was in individual or group sports. Due to their exposure to a discouraging environment, and due to the lack of noticeable alternatives, Arab females in the Gulf rarely pursue sports professionally. From Saudi Arabia’s first official female participation in 2018, to UAE’s increased – yet still insufficient – focus on female sports, we must learn to address this gender segregation not only in political, social, and professional settings, but also in a sports setting.