TEDxClaremont Colleges Preview

This weekend, the Claremont Colleges will be a place where you can find an Academy Award nominee, a past president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a man who walked from Delaware to the Pacific Ocean. TEDxClaremontColleges is this Saturday, Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Garrison Theater, and it will give you the opportunity to meet 16 speakers who have transformed expectations.  

In spirit of TED’s “ideas worth spreading” mission, the global TEDx program provides an opportunity for individuals, communities and organizations to stimulate TED talks at the local level. Last month, 177 TEDx events took place in 57 countries, and this Saturday, one will be happening in Claremont.   

Among the 16 featured speakers are three Claremont Graduate University students—Emily Warren, Kate MacAleavey and Takako Mino—and one Harvey Mudd College math major—Elly Schofield HM ’13.

MacAleavey is in her second year of earning dual degrees in Positive Organization Psychology and completing her M.B.A. at CGU. She is eager to share her research on expressing appreciation and said that she wants to “ask people [to] transform their expectations about themselves and other people.”

Mino, a CM ‘11 graduate and a first year at CGU for a Master’s in Education, was a recipient of CMC’s Center for Human Rights Leadership fellowship and was awarded the prestigious Napier Creative Leadership Award. Mino traveled throughout Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda and currently serves as the Director of Operations for Africa and Western Asia for the Public Debate Foundation.

“At the first school I visited in rural Uganda, I struggled to communicate to the students and felt frustrated after a failed lesson,” Mino said. “It was only after self-reflection and getting to know the students outside of the classroom setting that I was able to learn how to teach in a way that was most understandable for them.”

During TEDx, Mino will speak about “how the debate program [she] introduced in East Africa enabled youth to discover their hidden potentials and their voices.”

CMC’s Professor of Psychology Diane Halpern will also be speaking on Saturday.

“I am especially interested in how to lead a life with fewer possessions and how to encourage global education,” said Halpern, a past president of the APA. “I hope that my suggestions about bringing elected politicians closer to working together will be taken seriously and that some members of the audience will take some of the actions that I am proposing.”

Halpern recently had a discussion with a prominent psychologist who was once a white police officer in South Africa under Apartheid about his role in the dark side of history. Using this story, Halpern looks forward to explaining the concept of “my side bias” in her speech on Saturday and how people believe they are right in their ways.

Blake Zhe CMC ’15, a student who will be attending the Saturday talks, said that “the best thing about this year’s TEDx is that there is something for everyone.” 

For instance, another speaker is Nate Damm, who trekked across the country in seven and a half months. His three-mile-per-hour walk across America resulted in many friendly conversations and interesting encounters.

“I want to leave TEDx inspired,” Damm said. “My talk is about how I kept the positive momentum that I gained in my life when I returned home. I’ll also be talking about why I believe walking to be such an effective tool in life,” said Damm, who is currently writing a book about his adventure. 

While walking in West Virginia, a man pulled his truck over and asked Damm what he was doing. After Damm told the driver, the driver asked him, “Wouldn’t driving be faster?” 

“It’s not fast or efficient, but that’s what makes it so great,” Damm said of walking.

Sam Spurlin, who is in CGU’s Master’s program for Positive Psychology, has been organizing the TEDx event since last October. 

“I expect the event to be a resounding success,” he said. “I expect people to feel invigorated and excited for the potential in every [speaker’s] ideas.”

Spurlin is looking forward to hearing some of the 7C students speaking.

One of these speakers, Elly Shofield HM ’13, said she was “eager to see what the other student speakers [will] present.” Shofield’s talk will focus on math education and skills in problem-solving. 

“Students don’t learn how to undergo the iterative process of failure necessary for real problem solving, nor do they realize that failure can be productive in any way,” she said. “Too many people think they’re bad at math, and it’s all for the wrong reasons. And as a result, those people lack the motivation and support necessary to build a valuable set of mathematical skills.”

After visiting CGU to present his project Personal Analytics Companion (PACO) last year, Bob Evans, a software engineer at Google, said that he wants to “share a new technology that will enable transformation” at Saturday’s event.

“We go through a lot of our life on autopilot,” Evans said. “Maybe that is not enough. Our expectations guide our interpretations of events. Our interpretations guide our behavior. What guides our expectations then?” 

Evan enjoys the challenge of building suitable tools for people to change their behaviors. He wants people to understand themselves better after his talk by becoming more systematically aware of their surroundings and experiences. 

“The best part of a TEDx event is the conversations you have with other attendees and the speakers during lunch and conversation breaks,” Spurlin said. “It’s great to get to meet new people who are passionate about their ideas and are equally excited to hear yours.”

Other speakers at Saturday’s TEDx event include Roko Belic, David Allen, Zack Ringelstein and Leah Schrader, Dr. Dyvia Kakaiya, Dave Bruno and Vanessa Kettering.

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