Tedx Brings Unexpected Narratives to Claremont

TED is returning to Claremont on Feb. 22 with a few new tales to tell. In its third year,
TEDxClaremontColleges has expanded its scope under the theme “Unexpected
Narratives,” with a series of speakers set to tell their own stories as well as explore the idea of storytelling.

“As we filtered through our topics, we always seemed to come back to storytelling and narratives, in part because I
think it is a very likable topic that most people can engage with,” said Syd
Peterson, a co-curator of TedxClaremont and Claremont Graduate University student. “All human cultures in
some way include storytelling as an innate way people interact with each other.” 

Throughout the daylong event,
attendees will hear talks that include stories of teaching and service, and analyses of storytelling as a form of empowerment. 

“We’re just
really excited that this idea was interesting enough that
everyone would feel excited by it, but also flexible enough that we could go in
a lot of innovative directions,” Peterson said. 

A team of volunteers from the Claremont University Consortium and the outside community worked together to plan the event. 

“We want
this organization and event to be a true representation of the Claremont
Colleges and Claremont community,” co-curator and CGU student Sam Spurlin said. “It’s awesome to work with a wide array of
really motivated and intelligent people.”

Many of this year’s team have been
involved with previous TED events, both at the Claremont Colleges and around
the country.

“I did a small talk at TEDxYouth@DesMoines,” said Umar Farooq CM ’17, who is volunteering at the event. “I talked
about a brief encounter I had with some religiously derogatory comments someone
made to me at a debate tournament, and how those shaped my perspective on how
we ought to deal with and respond to bigoted comments.”

When he came to Claremont McKenna College, Farooq immediately sought to join the TEDx team. 

been great working with students from all 7Cs,” he said. “The number of people on the
team, and the variety of backgrounds and interests has given us a ton of
options to work with for the conference, which has been fantastic.”

Elly Schofield HM ’14 decided to take on a
leadership role in the TEDx team after speaking at last year’s event.

“When the opportunity came to participate as a volunteer, I
remembered all that amazing support I got as a speaker and knew I wanted to
contribute,” Schofield said. “I’m thrilled I agreed to participate and head one
of the primary organizing committees, because I have never been with a more
dedicated team of volunteers working on something so clearly and purely
determined to give something positive back to our community.”

Schofield also expressed excitement
that faculty members at the colleges will be describing forms of storytelling from multidisciplinary perspectives. Talitha Williams, a math professor at Harvey Mudd College, will
speak about how tracking “biodata” can help people record their personal stories. Other professors who will be speaking at
the event include José Calderón, professor emeritus of sociology and Chicano studies at Pitzer College, and Richard Hazlett, a geology professor at Pomona College and four-time
winner of the Wig Award for excellence in teaching.

Finding speakers
from different fields is an essential part of the event’s theme. 

“A TEDx event is supposed to be multidisciplinary, and we wanted to have a theme
that was broad enough that we could bring in a wide array of speakers without
having everybody speaking about the exact same thing,” Spurlin said. “We have
some speakers talking specifically about storytelling and how they use it in
their work, while a few of the other speakers are telling their story. We got
scientists and other people who you wouldn’t think would have to do with
storytelling. That’s why it’s unexpected.”

The event will include a morning session, a break for
lunch, and two afternoon sessions of speakers. Food will be supplied from a Thai food truck, a taco truck, and a barbecue food truck. 

Like all
other TEDx events, the talks will be professionally recorded and
made available on the TEDxClaremontColleges website and the TEDx YouTube channel. 

Students can buy tickets for $25, and community and faculty members can buy tickets for $50 at tedxclaremontcolleges.com. 

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