Written by Helena Aarts and Evan Myer, Contributor and News Editor
Unlike previous years, TEDx FurmanU 2020 had a theme: “Vision.” Organizer Shelby Walcott, a Furman senior, explained that the TEDx team chose the theme ‘Vision’ because they believed it had the potential for “multiple interpretations.” For example, Walcott explained “Vision urges us to tread further than ever before and discover ideas previously unseen. While it can begin blurry, our vision clarifies in time.” She also added, “Vision can perfect our calling, enact health or social change, improve our environment with scientific research, and build communities.”
The conference, which took place on Saturday, Feb. 8, featured ten speakers who examined the concept of vision from different angles. Senior Kenia Flores, one of three Furman students to speak, had a particularly interesting perspective. Blind since birth,Flores shared her experiences and envisioned a world where “inclusion is the norm and not the exception.”
Furman professor and former news reporter Mary Sturgill recounted her experience at the 2016 Charlotte riots. While covering the event, she and her photographer were attacked by agitators, only to be saved by two women—one of whom was in attendance at TEDx. After the attack, Sturgill suffered from “cumulative PTSD” for months. Inspired by the women that saved her, when confronting her trauma Sturgill adopted the mantra “kindness in the midst of chaos.” She also encouraged attendees to use the same SCAR method that helped her: strength, care, affirmation, repeat.
Walcott, who could not choose a favorite speaker since “the talks were so diverse,” said that her favorite moment from the event was “watching months of hard work come together seamlessly.” She also indicated that the student speakers blew her away, explaining that she could “really see their passion and excitement shine through.”
Walcott accredited the conference’s “huge success” to her “dedicated, passionate, bright and extremely organized team.” She was especially proud that, despite the snowy weather, TEDx drew such a broad audience, “attracting more community members than ever before.”
Moving forward, Walcott hopes that future organizers will continue to make the conference “more interactive,” adding to the “virtual reality station, the Vision Board, and the social media options that allow the organizing team and speakers to interact with attendees.”
In sum, Walcott explained that “TEDx is important to have at Furman because it allows students to be exposed to new perspectives in a safe and collaborative environment.” Walcott concluded that the goal of creating this environment is to spark conversations that last and are hopefully spread around campus after the event is over.”