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Conference Co-directors Emma Lozhkin and Alison Dudu produced a wonderful afternoon of ideas and stories.
April 25, 2017
TEDx Showcases Amazing Speakers and Students
Our first-ever student-led and organized TEDx Branksome Hall Youth Conference took place on Saturday, April 22, 2017. And Conference Co-directors Emma Lozhkin and Alison Dudu are thrilled with its success. “TEDx provides a unique experience for students to come and hear about a variety of topics that are both unrelated but equally interesting,” Emma says while welcoming students, friends and parents to the Allison Roach Performing Arts Centre.

The conference, which took many months of preparation, included eight presenters. “We were looking for speakers who had an interesting story to tell,” says Alison. “We picked speakers for the value of what they had to say.”

Eva Lau, who nurtured and scaled the online story sharing app Wattpad, spoke about what it took to take the Toronto-based social networking site from a few thousand users to the tens of millions of monthly users it has today. In keeping with our theme—The Impact of Accelerated Technology—she also spoke about how Wattpad’s technology is bringing international recognition to previously unknown storytellers.

“The conference is running really smoothly,” says Alison, outside the Weston Drawing Room, which acts as the speakers’ green room. “We have a lot of volunteers and this allows Emma and me to focus on the speakers.”

Along with Emma and Alison, nine other students make up the TEDx Branksome Hall team, including a Head of Operations, Co-heads of the Tech Crew and a Head of Social Media. Students planned, designed and implemented everything from the branding graphics to their own website and Facebook page, which they updated throughout the day.

A large group of student volunteers, who have learned extraordinary skills and confidence from their participation in drama productions, help to ensure that the conference runs without a hitch.

“People are working together, bringing their skills to make the event as successful as possible,” says Emma. “It’s really amazing.”

Amazing was something that echoed throughout the afternoon, as other speakers such as Katie Gwozdecky, a mechanical engineering student at U of T, provided a brief lesson in rocket science; Kevin Vuong argued that social enterprise – doing good while making a profit – is the quickest path to a better world. Peter Dirks, a neurosurgeon and researcher at The Hospital for Sick Children, showed how new brain mapping is helping save lives.

Branksome alumna Toni TROW Myers’61, who both produced and directed the 3D IMAX film A Beautiful Planet, spoke about how technology, specifically the IMAX camera, has changed the way we see the universe. Other speakers included Danielle Da Silva, a photographer and activist who is saving 50 hectares of Indonesian Rainforest; Sara Angel, founding director of the Art Canada Institute, is making Canadian art history accessible through free e-books; and Grade 12 Branksome student Alex Philp-Reeves, co-founder of Emoji Health, who reminded the audience that you don’t need letters behind your name to begin creating and innovating.

Between speakers, talented Branksome students, including the Branksome Rock Band, performed musical sets.

“I’ve been watching TEDx since I was a child,” says Emma. “I’d love for this evening to be part of our legacy to the school.”

Both Alison and Emma will graduate next month.

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