TEDxUW 2021: 2020 Vision

Photo credits: Unsplash

UW hosted a free, virtual TEDx event on Saturday, Feb. 19 that featured a wide array of speakers on various subjects. Kate Bendall, a co-op student at the University of Waterloo, hosted the event, and the two co-chairs for TEDxUW were Omar Khan and Matthew Zhu–also students at the University of Waterloo. The event was attended by roughly 40 people and lasted about three hours. 

This year’s topic was 2020 Vision. The year 2020 represented the beginning of a period of extreme difficulty. The goal of the event and vision was to learn, advance, and “look toward the future with 20/20 vision.” 

TEDx is a self-organized network of local events that connect people to participate in a TED-style experience. TED Talks video and live speakers were combined in a TEDxUW event to encourage meaningful conversation and interaction in a small group. 

There were a total of eight speakers whose talks ranged from breaking from social media to whether we can treat cancer during pregnancy. This year’s TEDxUW was also animated with musical performances, such as the talented UW acapella group Unaccompanied Minors. 

One of the first speakers was Andrew E. Guy, a Resiliency Coach and Consultant whose talk centred around “Finding the Good in Humanity” and what we want people to remember about us. He recalled a story of how he helped a mother whose son went to war by visiting her often and being there for her. According to Guy, there are small actions we can do daily to help others and be better people. “If you are going to experience the good in humanity, you must discover it in yourself and then you will recognize it in others,” he said. 

Another notable speaker was Karandeep Gill, whose talk on “How to Achieve Resilience Through Self-Compassion” was fascinating and moving. Gill discussed her battle with mental illness, which started around age 15 and followed her as a student at UW. “I criticized myself for not being the perfect person I set out to be,” Gill said. 

Learning from her own struggles, Gill spoke about the importance of raising awareness for mental health, particularly in communities where it is not often discussed. She talked about being able to “take a step back and be resilient” to our own minds, as they can sometimes play tricks on us. She advised us to recognize when we need assistance and to accept it by relying on our circle of friends and family. As Gill’s mother once told her, “This is a we recovery, as in we will get through this together.”