By Ellie Winslow
The Geneva Graduate Institute’s second annual TEDxGVAGrad event took place this past weekend, with an action-packed schedule of musical performances, moving talks, and audience interaction. This year’s theme was “Rethink Realities,” which followed nicely from last year’s conference themed “The Dawn of a New Era.” The event was hosted by TEDxGVAGrad’s Project Manager, Chiara Valenti, and Co-Head of Events & Logistics, Shefali Nandhra, both of whom are Master’s students at the Graduate Institute. Between the thought-provoking student and professional talks and polished production, TEDxGVAGrad proved successful and engaging for the second year in a row.
TEDxGVAGrad is one of the largest student initiatives at the Geneva Graduate Institute, as Valenti and Nandhra described in their opening “Conversation with TEDxGVAGrad.” The initiative comprises 25 members, which are divided into four teams that carry out different aspects leading up to, and on the day of the TEDxGVAGrad event. The initiative is led by returning TEDx member and second-year MDev student, Chiara Valenti, who worked for TEDx as Co-Head of Events & Logistics for the inaugural conference. Valenti is joined by second-year MIA student, Elodie Pearson, and first-year MINT student, Jessica Peery Viggers on the leadership team; Viggers is expected to take the TEDx helm for next year’s event. In their opening introduction, the co-hosts commended the communications team’s original logos, the talks team’s esteemed guests, the events team’s attention to detail, and the sponsorship team’s ability to garner vital financial support for the conference. As Nandhra put it, “it has been a privilege to see a team so large come together like this,” ahead of a full day of talks and performances.
Directrice Marie Laure-Salles also participated in short opening remarks, adding her thanks to the TEDx initiative, and the IHEID technology and communications teams for their diligence in putting on the conference. Laure-Salles discussed how the theme “Rethink Realities” and the interconnected nature of today’s world align closely with the Graduate Institute’s values and mission. She proclaimed that “education should be about courage,” and felt heartened by the difficult and respectful conversations that could come from the day’s conference.
The main events of TEDxGVAGrad were the musical performances and professional talks that took place throughout the day. The conference was bookended with impressive flamenco dance and choral performances, which balanced nicely with the lineup of serious talks. One of my favorite talks came from IHEID Master’s in International Law student, Paul Philipp Stewens. Stewens’ talk titled, “Your Favorite Dinosaur Might Be Stolen,” took a closer look at the intersection of law and paleontology. Stewens set the scene at Berlin’s Natural History Museum, which holds the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world. While Berlin and many other western cities take pride in showcasing some of the most spectacular fossils, he drove home the idea that many of these fossils were removed from their home countries by colonizers. Stewens urged the audience to think about how “local communities lose the opportunity to learn about their native heritage” and lose accessibility to their history when western scientists take hold of important artifacts from these lands.
In short, TEDxGVAGrad had something for everyone and certainly delivered in professional quality. Between the clear branding, impressive visual interface, and attention to detail, the team turned out an excellent production and speaker lineup. After the conclusion of the conference, TEDx offered a catered networking event for attendees, speakers, and performers to mingle and share ideas, as is the goal of the TEDTalks organization. I had the pleasure of participating in this year’s “Rethink Realities” event and I look forward to the awe-inspiring future of TEDxGVAGrad.
TEDxGVAGrad wants to thank its sponsors whose contributions made this event possible, and show particular appreciation for the generosity of PwC Switzerland. PwC Switzerland is the leading audit and advisory company in Switzerland whose purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. Its network of firms, each of which is a separate legal entity, in 152 countries counts nearly 328,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax and legal services. Find out more here about PwC Switzerland.
Photo Credits: Nick Mizin
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