TEDxCanton Experience Report
Venue: Guangdong Science Center
Date: 10:00-17:30, Saturday, September 4, 2010
Theme: The Overflow of the Heart
Abstract: TEDxCanton aims to convey “ideas worth spreading” to individuals, businesses and institutions in our community and beyond by putting together a program of heavyweight local and international speakers. During the one-day event, they shared world-shaping ideas and touching stories to inspire action and capture the spirit of the increasingly creative, tech-savvy and cosmopolitan city of Guangzhou. TEDxCanton engages people in Guangzhou and elsewhere in better understanding Guangzhou’s modernity and heritage, and reach out towards the wider world through motivational, intellectual and entertaining experiences. The theme of the event is “The Overflow of the Heart”, or “心溢新意·畅享创想” in Chinese.
It was a very interesting experience to attend TEDxCanton in Guangzhou. I have attended TEDxSingapore last year which is quite disappointing, but this TEDx is much better. A wide range of speakers are invited. They come from different countries and have very different background: engineer, artist, journalist, actor, architect, etc. The topics of each speaker are also distinctive, ranging from charity to music, language, engineering and more. The conference is bilingual, with both Chinese and English speakers. Many of the western speakers have stayed in China for quite a few years so they also speak Chinese. Most of the attendees are university students from various universities in Guangzhou. It is nice to see that TEDx is becoming known by more and more young people in China, and hopefully this will become an important forum for people to communicate and spread ideas across countries and culture.
Almost every speech is very intriguing, and this made the full day schedule doesn’t seem very long. I selected some of the talks that I particularly found interesting and share with the lab members.
The first speaker was Dave Huxtable. He is a British cultural relations professional and is able to communicate in ten different tongues. He is currently head of English Teacher Training Projects with the Cultural and Education section of the British Consulate General. It is amazing that though he is British, he made the entire 20 minutes speech in Chinese! As a native Chinese speaker, I can’t say that he spoke as good as Chinese people, but it is the courage and confidence that he showed that really impressed me. Since he is working on the English Teacher Training Projects, he mainly talked about how to study a language. He compared learning languages with learning other things such as math, dancing, riding a bicycle, etc. He stresses that you need to practice a lot, and you will not be able to master it if you only learns the theories without practice. He gave his real life example of learning how to ride a bike and playing guitar to show the importance of practicing. I think the fact that he was able to deliver the whole speech in Chinese is the best example to show that we should dare to practice and make mistakes.
The speech that has left the most impression on me is the one about the Library project, where the speaker, Tom Stader, founded The Library Project in 2006 to donate books and libraries to rural areas in Southeast Asia and China. The Library Project is his way of giving those children who are left behind the opportunity to have a quality education. By the end of 2010, The Library Project will have built 350 libraries in China. It is amazing how much effort he has put into and how big the impact it has brought to many young children in China. He showed the photos and videos of the libraries they donated and the happy kids reading the books. Looking at the smiling faces of the kids with books holding in your hands, I really feel that it is a very meaningful thing to do and would like to volunteer in the future. The link to his project is http://www.library-project.org/. More detailed information can be found there.
Another interesting talk was from a Chinese structural engineer, Zhao Hong, who has 20 years of expertise in many major building projects with multiple uses, ranging from high-rise office towers and hotels, to commercial and residential buildings and other high-rise constructions. The key projects that Mr. Zhao has worked for include the Shanghai Jingan Kerry mixed development, Guangzhou’s new TV Tower, Beijing New Town International Development and Beijing’s CCTV Headquarters. He showed a very interesting video called “Engineers are cool”, which was made by people from his company and shows all what engineers have done to change the world and make our life better. This is exactly why I chose to be an engineer and I am very happy to see that engineer’s work can be recognized and appreciated by many people.
There was one weird talk from Ou Zhihang, photographer and performance artist, who traveled around China doing naked push-ups in front of sites of social and historical significance, and took photos to make people remember these events. His rationale is that people won’t read newspapers from a hundred years ago but people do remember artworks even after hundreds of years. Therefore, he transformed the photos of social event in China into a form of art, in the hope of getting people to remember these important events.
There were many other interesting talks, such as Xue Xinran, Chinese radio journalist and writer, talking about globalization problem in China. She pointed out currently globalization means speaking English and becoming more like Americans, whereas our own identity and regional culture are gradually getting lost. There was Steven Weathers, a TV journalist, educator and entrepreneur, who talked about his life experience and called for more media from the heart in China. There was editor of
the cultural column of Southern Weekly, Wu Wei, who looked into the problem of people read less. There was political cartoonist for Southern Metropolis Daily, Kuang Biao, who showed his excellent works and explained the deep meaning behind.
All the TEDxCanton videos are online and you can watch them at http://www.tudou.com/home/_71701481