What TEDx Plaines Wilhems 2018 Made Me Realise
So something amazing happened recently. I got the chance to go out in the evening ALONE. No girl child crying because she wanted to suckle at my boob and no boy child tugging me in a million different directions. For the first time in over 16 months, I finally got to do something just for me, and I’m so glad that that something was attending a TEDx event right here in Mauritius.
I’m at a stage in my life now where I only want to consume information or entertainment that is for my own self-betterment and growth (apart from the occasional binge-watch of Eastenders but hey…) so it’s no surprise that in recent years I’ve developed a love for TED talks.
I’m sure most people reading know that TED is a media organisation that posts its influential TED talks online for free viewing; these are impactful videos from expert speakers on a vast variety of subjects, but all with one common thread: they are all “ideas worth spreading”. TEDx events on the other hand are smaller events under license from TED, organised by the local community in order to bring people together to share a TED-like experience and spark deep and meaningful discussions. I was so happy to learn that a TEDx event was being organised so close to home and was even happier to see that one of my favourite photo-journalists, Paul Choy, was going to be speaking. I had to be there.
So yes, the unbelievable happened and I actually was able to go along to TEDx Plaines Wilhems at Trianon Convention Centre on 26th April, and I can honestly say it was an enlightening, eye-opening and inspiring experience. I’m genuinely so glad that my first adventure out of the house without any kids got to be spent here!
The theme for this TEDx event was ‘Unexplored Spaces’, an interesting concept that didn’t really give much away at the outset. Now, after the event, I can understand why the curators chose the people that they did to headline the event; despite each speaker being unique in his or her own right with their own message to share in regards to ‘unexplored spaces’, each one was united with the other speakers through a mutual aim of wanting to create positive change not only in Mauritius, but around the world too
The speakers were all great, including the University students who had their 2 minutes under the spotlight too, but there were a few talks that particularly blew me away, as you’ll come to see later.
The Speakers & Their talks
The first speaker was Mauritian musician Eric Triton, who spoke passionately and with conviction about the beautiful art he puts out into the world, encouraging us all to follow in the pursuit of the things that make our hearts sing too. I loved how his contribution was more of a performance, than a talk; it could have been likened more to spoken word poetry rather than a speech, and was stunningly broken up by his effortless strumming on his ukulele. It was a wonderful and captivating way to start the event and affirmed to me that I am always on the right path if that path is doing something that I love.
Vincent is a conservationist and Associate Professor of Ecology at the University of Mauritius. His talk was fascinating, especially to someone like myself who doesn’t know much about conservation and especially conservation in Mauritius. Vincent views Mauritius as a microcosm of the rest of the world and believes that if we are able to succeed in preserving bio-diversity here, then we can help to preserve bio-diversity around the rest of the world too. He spoke about a number of things that were really eye opening, including the impact of invasive plant species on the biodiversity of tropical rainforests. It was a great introduction to conservation for me and I definitely learned something new.
Olivier is a living example of complete strength and determination in the battle against injustice. Leader of the Chagos Refugee Group, Olivier was born in 1964 on the island of Peros Banhos in Chagos Archipelago and lived there until his family was forcibly removed in 1968 in order to make way for a US military base. He told his heartbreaking story of his fight for justice in helping his people to return to their homeland, and through it all I admire his strength, determination and resilience where other people would have easily given up. He showed me that when you are truly passionate about a cause, you are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a desired outcome.
Alex has a Masters in Engineering and Applied Sciences from one of the top educational establishments in the world, Yale University, yet returned to Mauritius to set out on a mission of changing education in Mauritius through one family at a time. His talk is one that I think needs to be heard by every single person in Mauritius, as I have seen firsthand the pressures that are placed on children from the age of just 3 years old to mould into a system that merits on memory rather than individuality. He spoke about allowing children to explore, to ask questions, to use their own initiative and to be free, and that is something that really hit home for me, not just someone who was educated in Britain but as a parent too. I do not agree with the way the education systems are in most countries and this talk resonated with me on so many levels.
Vassen is Mauritius’ very first oceanographer and I have to say, his talk was among my top 3 of the evening. You could see the passion in his eyes as he spoke of the ocean, but you could equally hear the pain in his voice when he spoke about how we are destroying her. Vassen proposed practical steps for us to implement into our every day lives to lessen human impact on our seas and its creatures, and believes that right now we have a unique opportunity to reinvent our relationship with the ocean and a create a brighter future for our children and the whole of humanity. He certainly has left me thinking about the things I can implement in my own life to help the cause such as reducing the amount of plastic I use and recycling wherever possible (which I try my best to do anyway but there is always more that can be done).
Dr. Caude was the only female speaker of the evening, but in my opinion, she delivered one of the most powerful talks of the whole event. An internationally renowned geneticist, her talk surprised me as she spoke from more of a spiritual perspective, highlighting that as humans, our senses go much beyond the five human senses that we believe we have. She spoke of the power of our sixth sense – that inner intuition that constantly guides us – and called it ‘love’, urging the audience to delve into that box of treasures that each and every one of us have, knowing that there is the most valuable treasure that holds all the answers concealed within. I was nodding my head along with everything she was saying and had the biggest smile on my face throughout it. I absolutely LOVED her talk and it hit me right in the feels!
Like I’ve already said, Paul Choy is a photojournalist whose work I have admired for a number of years and he was one of the main reasons I wanted to attend this TEDx event in the first place. I feel that he and I have a very similar vision of wanting to unite humans through our work and I was certainly not disappointed by his enlightening, powerful and moving talk. He spoke about the ‘us v them’ mentality created by media corporations around the world, and how his work aims to break down the unexplored spaces between different human beings in order to show that underneath it all, we’re really all the same. For me, his talk was the highlight of the whole evening and I was honoured to hear it live in person. I had the opportunity to interview him face-to-face a few days later and he told me he pretty much made the talk up as he went along which is mind blowing as his talk was bloody FANTASTIC.
All seven speakers did a wonderful job and the energy in the room was electric. On top of that, I was impressed by just how well-organised the event was, running smoothly from start to finish and it was definitely on par with, if not better, than the many TEDx events I’ve come across online.
The main thing I realised during and after this TEDx event was that there are many people out there who want our world to be a safer and happier place for us all, and for me knowing that is just amazing and fills me with so much joy. I left the event feeling so motivated, inspired and hopeful for the future of Mauritius and for the future of the whole of humanity.
I must congratulate the whole team that managed to put together this wonderful event and all of the speakers for doing such an outstanding job. I for one certainly can’t wait for the next one!
Were you there, too? I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below.
For updates on more TEDx events in Mauritius visit their Facebook page here.
Click below to watch all 7 of the talks I have spoken about above, and enjoy. I hope they inspire you as much as they have inspired me.