[Column] My TED experience

University life can be stressful. Between all the assignments, projects and exams I like to reclaim my mental sanctuary and refurbish it with images of ponies, pretty stationery and well-written prose instead of pi’s and deltas. Indulging in other enjoyable activities apart from studying is a vital part of a student’s life. Or perhaps any life for that matter.

For me, it is a lot of little things like writing and painting. Anything that can take my mind off studies for a while. Which is why when I recently got the opportunity to work for TEDx Delft, I gladly volunteered.

TED is a brand I’ve wanted to be associated with for a while now. TED events have always had a certain flair and pomp associated with it. But the true grandeur of it lies in the people and the ideas they bring forth. The spoken word can have such a huge impact on the way people perceive important events or even the humdrum of everyday life. You might recognize bits of yourself in the stories they tell. Sometimes, you hear something so miraculously new, it stretches your imagination of what reality could be like.  I feel it is something that doesn’t just affect the audience, it influences the speaker too; finding parts of us within themselves, knowing there are people who want to listen to you.

She fills up the stage with her wide-eyed innocence

I guess the reason I’m so enamoured by it is because it is similar to writing. The art of expressing yourself through acting, music, prose, poetry or even presentations is a gift. One of my favourite TED personalities is Sarah Kay, a spoken word poet. I still remember the first time I watched her perform. She fills up the stage with her wide-eyed innocence, honest and almost naïve but delightfully quirky commentary of the world. It is a joy to watch her go through her poems, with her swift delivery and insightful words. She spoke fast, almost sounding out of breath whilst I waited, bated-breath for her stories to unfold. She gave an amazing performance, leaving the audience in awe and me in tears. 

It made me realise that no matter what you make of the world, there is always someone to listen. There is an audience to every story (even Trump’s). I had a wonderful time being part of the TED experience and I urge you to grab every opportunity to tell your story, by whatever means you can express it and however you know it to be true.

Padmini Manivannan is a Masters student studying Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.

Padmini Manivannan / Columnist

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