Remember to DREAM

Abbie McGregor: Remember to DREAMAbbie McGregor is an inspiration for students at Exeter College. In 2016 she won the Exeter College TEDxExeter competition to give a talk at TEDxExeter 2016. In her talk ‘Remember to DREAM’, Abbie spoke passionately about inspiring hope and vision in young people, and doing away with dispassionate and limited SMART targets!

Now she has written a guest blog post about how her experience has given her HOPE.

 

Once upon a time, a little girl was shown a TED talk. It set her on a path not known to many. It sounds like a fairy tale because cheesily enough, my experience of TEDxExeter really was, magical.

When I was about 12, and just starting secondary school, I had an inspiring teacher whose favourite thing was a TED talk. As a class, we would watch them for everything we studied. The TED speakers taught us to be motivated, confident and to care about everything. So, when the opportunity came along for someone from Exeter college to give one, I knew there was only one way I could do that teacher justice.

It’s something that everyone wants to talk about. I meet people at college and they know that I’m the girl who gave a TEDx talk. I receive a barrage of questions about how it went, what I said, what happened after. And those are the three things I want to speak to you about today.

As to how it went, I’m standing here now because I won that internal competition to give a TEDx talk and now, a year on I’m starting to give advice to many others having that same shot, and nothing is more inspiring than hearing the buzz about the opportunity to really be taken seriously.

The recognition of a 17-year old’s voice is something many people my age feel they do not and cannot have, and therefore this opportunity is astounding. So I couldn’t be more thankful to Martin and Exeter College for it.

Following this, I was given so much help by Claire and Cathy. My speech went from strength to strength which I simply couldn’t have done without them. Their experience is evident the first time you speak to them, but even more so in the outcome of each of the speeches and the quality of TEDxExeter talks.

And then I stood up on that stage, and spoke for five whole minutes and I said it all. I repeated the messages that my teacher had taught me of how to make a better future. A future of children who are full of dreams, hope, passion, motivation, ambition, dedication, energy and a want to make something happen – much like I really wanted to take away SMART targets from the system.  

For many people that’s where they think the journey ends. It gets uploaded a few months later and people watch it online, 1,700 have watched mine to be exact. But that really isn’t it. This is what happened after.

A week later, I had an email from a primary school, another from my own college and another from the city council, all asking for me to come and give my talk again in another context. And so I did. I gave my speech at the city council applying it to their devolution programme and how Exeter really is becoming a city of the future.

And then, I took the talk down to primary level and spoke to children about how they really are the future. Finally, the talk I gave that impacted me most was at my own college. In September, I gave my talk to the entire A-level cohort, alongside two other distinguished speakers. At the end I was stormed by students. They told me how good it was to hear ‘one of own’ telling them to go out and make things happen. In another girl’s words, ‘I was my own example of taking an opportunity’.

We are often called the troublesome teens, slightly rowdy, lazy, always tired, often late, but all my peers wanted was something to believe in, a dream or in the words of this launch –  they just needed a bit of hope.

Abbie McGregor, 19th January 2017

Alan Smith on TED.com

We should be fascinated by numbers says Alan Smith in his challenging and amusing TEDxExeter talk. And TED must agree as it has selected his as one of the few TEDx talks that are featured on  TED.com. We are delighted that, as a result it will reach a much larger, global audience. The statistics (yes) show that this is a rare honour. Fewer than 1 per cent of TEDx talks feature on TED, and Alan’s is the 8th TEDxExeter talk to be chosen.

In his talk Alan Smith, who is data visualisation editor at The Financial Times, uses statistics to illustrate the massive difference between perception and reality in many areas of life. “Statistics are most wonderful when they surprise us,” he says. “They are about us as a group … the science of us, and that’s why we should be fascinated by numbers.”

Amusingly he demonstrates that the National Statistician and Jeremy Paxman are just as likely not to know what’s really going on in their neighbourhood as anyone else. He also busts the myth that some people are good at numbers, while others aren’t.

“I am thrilled that this talk has been selected for TED.com,” said Alan Smith. “It’s increasingly hard to avoid statistics in modern life – so we need to learn to love them for what they are: surprising, revealing and the key to answering so many important questions.”

TEDxExeter organiser and licensee Claire Kennedy adds: “We are delighted that an eighth TEDxExeter talk has been selected for TED.com. We already know from our own website stats that we have visitors from around the world; now these talks will be seen by an even greater global audience.

“Alan presents numbers in ways that we can all understand – even those who have thought themselves bad at numbers since maths lessons at school. Not only does he challenge prejudices and misunderstanding, he also makes you laugh. It is great news that Alan’s ideas will now reach people all around the world through TED.com.”

Deeyah Khan on TED.com

We are delighted that Deeyah Khan’s TEDxExeter 2016 talk has been chosen to feature on TED.com – an honour less than 1 per cent of TEDx talks achieve. It is the 7th talk from Exeter to be selected.

Building relationships is key to stopping the cycle of violence, says Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director, Deeyah Khan. Born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry, she experienced many of the difficulties Muslim children growing up in European countries can face. Aged 17, she fled from Norway confused, lost and torn between cultures. She chose film and music as the language for her social activism, not a gun.

Deeyah’s first, award-winning film, Banaz, explored a so-called ‘honour killing’ in the UK. Her second film, the Bafta-nominated Jihad involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis. In her TEDxExeter talk “What we don’t know about Europe’s Muslim kids” she tells some of their stories and sheds light on the clash of cultures between Muslim parents who prioritise honour and their children’s desire for freedom. She argues that we need to understand what is happening to fight the pull to extremism.

Deeyah Khan’s talk will reach a much larger audience on TED.com. 64,000 people have already watched the talk. Now it will attract a potential audience of millions around the world.

“I’m both delighted and honoured that my talk has been one of those selected to appear on TED.com,” says Deeyah Khan. “Radicalisation is the most pressing problem of our age. Each violent act by extremists creates an increasing cycle of hatred which tears our communities apart.

“Through the research and interviews I carried out in the development of my documentary Jihad, I believe that one of the most effective means of stopping the cycle of violence is through building relationships. This can be difficult when young people feel themselves to be growing up between cultures, and belonging in neither.

“I am pleased that TED has given me this opportunity to share some simple ideas of how we can all work together to stop the cycle of violence and bring our communities back together.”

Danny Dorling on TED.com

See the world anew and discover hope for the future says Danny Dorling as his TEDxExeter talk is featured on TED.com.

We are delighted that Danny’s powerful talk has been featured on TED.com, the 6th talk from TEDxExeter to be featured on the main TED site.

“There are a huge number of good news stories in the world,” says Danny Dorling in his 2016 TEDxExeter talk: “Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are)”. And now his talk is on TED.com many more people around the world will hear about the constant, incremental changes for the better that rarely feature in the print and broadcast media.

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, challenges us to examine some of our beliefs about the world and open our minds to a new, often unreported reality. Using beautiful and unfamiliar world maps created by Ben Hennig (and shown in colour for the first time) he shows us that in many ways life is slowly getting better and there’s much to be optimistic about, as long as we continue to connect with each other.

“I’m very glad TED has decided to feature the talk I gave at TEDxExeter,” said Danny. “In it I examine new ways of viewing the world, its future, and how we can be a little less afraid if we do not see other people as being our enemy as much as we currently do. We currently fear people from other countries too much, we fear that those in faraway places are taking ‘our jobs’, we fear what we do not know. But if we begin to see the world as a whole, as the place from which we all get our food, as the place that we all pollute, then as our global population begins to stabilise we can learn to become less fearful. Some people learn faster than others. The British Prime Minister, Teresa May, recently said that ‘if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere’. It is not her fault that she was taught geography at time before we could map all the citizens of the world and see that we are each just such a citizen.”

“I hope you watch the talk if only to see the weird and wonderful ways in which Benjamin Hennig has remapped the planet. Seeing the earth shaped in proportion to the amount of rain that falls, and how that changes over a year, shows the planet as a single entity that almost appears to have an annual heartbeat. Seeing all the humans of the world drawn on a single projection can help us realise that imagining all of humanity as one is not beyond the scope of our collective imaginations. Let’s see the world anew!”

Ben Hennig has also used this method of remapping the world to map the result of the US presidential election and show that not only did most voters who voted not vote for Trump (which people know), but also that an even larger majority of Americans live in areas which did not vote for Trump. See more on Ben’s website Views of the World.

Democrat areas are coloured blue on Ben’s map of the election result. On the traditional map it looks as if Trump had a great deal of support. On the map adjusted to correctly represent the number of people living in an area it is made clear that only a small minority of Americans supported him and that he has only won office due to the US voting system and because there is so much disaffection there (so many people don’t vote).

Danny’s TEDxExeter talk was based on a book he wrote with Carl Lee called ‘Geography’.

His new book A Better Politics can be downloaded as a PDF here. The book was timed for publication on the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s book ‘Utopia’ which is this month (‘Utopia’ was originally published in Latin in very late 1516).

You can find out more about Danny’s work at dannydorling.org and @dannydorling.

Manwar Ali on TED.com

The idea of jihad has been hijacked, perverted and turned into terrorism by fascistic Islamists says Manwar Ali. His TEDxExeter talk “Inside the mind of a former radical jihadist” from April this year has just been selected to feature on TED.com – an honour that only a tiny proportion of TEDx talks achieve (five of them now from TEDxExeter). Needless to say we are all excited and proud that Manwar’s brave and moving talk will reach a global audience. It has already been watched by nearly 7,000 people since it went online in May and now it will reach millions more.

Manwar Ali, who is also known as Abu Muntasir, has more than 30 years experience teaching Islam and is one of the few scholars in the UK who has been directly involved in jihad. He was a committed pioneer of jihadism in the UK who fought in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma.

“For a long time, I lived for death,” says Manwar Ali, a former radical jihadist who participated in violent, armed campaigns in the Middle East and Asia in the 1980s. In this moving talk, he reflects on his experience with radicalisation and makes a powerful, direct appeal to anyone drawn to Islamist groups claiming that violence and brutality are noble and virtuous: let go of anger and hatred, he says, and instead cultivate your heart to see goodness, beauty and truth in others.

Manwar Ali also says: “I thought violent Jihad was noble, chivalrous, and the best way to help. At a time when so many of our young people are at risk of radicalisation by groups like IS, AQ and others, when those groups are claiming that their horrific violence and brutality are true jihad – I want to say – their idea of jihad is wrong. Totally wrong. As was mine, then.”

He believes that “there are no circumstances on earth today in which violent jihad is permissible, because it will lead to greater harm”.

“I am absolutely delighted that my talk has been chosen for TED.com,” says Manwar Ali. “I am forever grateful to everyone responsible for making this happen. I am thrilled that a much wider audience will benefit from my humble admissions.

“It is vital for us to understand the poison of the ideology of Islamism which is necessarily supremacist and do our best to protect and cure humanity from its pernicious effects on the hearts for peace, compassion and understanding. For it to be hosted on TED.com is simply a dream come true.”

TEDxExeter organiser and licensee Claire Kennedy adds: “At a time when stories of young people being recruited to violent jihad overseas are regularly in the headlines, this talk is very timely. We are delighted that Manwar’s wise and thought-provoking words will reach a global audience.”

Manwar Ali is chief executive of Muslim educational charity JIMAS. He is also a specialist interventions provider for the Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter Terrorism working with people who are at risk of radicalisation and those convicted of terrorism. He is chaplain for University Campus Suffolk, Suffolk New College, and the Ipswich Hospital; a member of the local scrutiny & involvement panel for the Crown Prosecution Service in East England; a member of the police crime panel for the Suffolk Police & Crime Commissioner; and a member of the Suffolk Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.

Giles Duley’s refugee portraits win International Photography Award

Syrian refugeeTEDxExeter speaker Giles Duley has won an International Photography Award with his portraits of Syrian refugees living in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. He was awarded first prize in the category people, portraits. Third in the same category was Bert Hartman, for his portraits of TED Fellows during the 2016 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada.

Giles spoke at this year’s TEDxExeter conference in April. In his talk, The Power of a Story he focuses his lens on the stories of some of the refugees fleeing conflict in Syria.

giles4Giles Duley is an award winning humanitarian photographer who, through his work with UNHCR, focuses his lens on their lives and tells their stories.

He is himself casualty of war who almost died and lost both legs and an arm in an improvised explosive device explosion in Afghanistan. His lasting wounds allow him to connect with the people he captures on film and to tell the stories of those without a voice.

In this powerful and moving call to action, Giles reminds us that we are at a defining moment and calls on us to do all we can to make a difference to the lives of refugees, now. Watch the video now.

Out and about with Frosty

Some of the speakers at TEDxExeter 2016 very kindly gave more of their time during their visits to Exeter. Anna Frost called in at a number of schools, the City Council, and went for a short (for her) outing with some local runners. Her whistle-stop tour was arranged by Tobit Emmens, member of the TEDxExeter production team, and speaker at TEDxExeter 2013. He has written a guest blog for us.

 

The children, all 400 of them, as well as the teachers, drew a collective breath when Anna Frost told them how long it took to run the Hardrock100, one of the hardest ultra marathons in the world. 27 hours, two sun rises and lots and lots of food. Anna, who many in the sport know as Frosty, was at St Michael’s Primary Academy, Heavitree, to talk to the children about being curious (what was over the next mountain?), adventurous and brave.

The children were enthralled, amazed and inspired. One pupil said to me: “it was so inspiring to meet a real life superhero”. After assembly, Frosty led an activity session for members of the school running club, with relay races, wheelbarrow races and a lesson on how to cure a stitch. Iain Randall, deputy head of St Michael’s, was delighted that Frosty was able to visit: “we often talk to the children about people who do amazing things and how they can act as role models, but to have one visit and work with the children was brilliant”.

After St Michael’s, Frosty visited St Luke’s Science and Sports College. There she met more primary school children from across the city on a sports Gifted and Talented programme. The children had been learning about pacing, and endurance. They were delighted to meet and listen to Frosty, who gave a short talk on how she started running, the ups and downs and the adventures she has had. This was followed by a Q&A session, and then it was outside for an activity session: a warm up and ‘long run’ around the field to put some learning into action.

Matt Upston, the College Sports Coordinator said: “having athlete role models come in and talk to the Gifted and Talented students can really inspire students to greatness. Frosty was fantastic working with the students and gave them a real insight on what it was like to be a professional athlete and the highlights and lowlights of a career on the road. Anna’s talk was engaging and inspirational to both the students and staff!”

In the afternoon, it was the turn of grown ups! A small group of local runners met at the Four Firs carpark, for a 15 mile run on Woodbury Common. For the local runners who took part, it was fantastic opportunity to run and quiz Frosty on everything from what she eats, how she trains, how she prepares for an ultra marathon, what it’s like to be a professional athlete, why she doesn’t use GPS activity tracking, the role social media has in professional sport, and what she plans on doing next.

Anna also met with representatives of Exeter City Council’s rugby world cup legacy team. Frosty gave some valuable insights on some of the challenges of bringing professional athletes into mentoring programmes.

Imagining the TEDxExeter 2016 livestream anew

The TEDxExeter 2016 livestream was watched by people from 69 countries all over the world during the course of the day. The top 25 countries included (among the usual Western suspects): India, Mauritius, PNG, Pakistan, and Libya. Riffing on the mapping presentation in his talk “Imagining the world anew”, Danny Dorling kindly passed on our request to his colleague Ben Hennig, who brilliantly produced the following for us.

TEDxExeter_CountriesEqualSize

The first map shows each country represented in the streaming data in an equal size, so that it is a highlight of where all the visitors in the world came from, but represented by an equal measure and not in any other proportion. All other countries basically disappear from this first map.

TEDxExeter_StreamShareWithUK

The second map includes the actual shares of stream usage from each country. In this one, the UK is most prominent because it took the major share.

TEDxExeter_StreamShareWithoutUK

The third map takes out all UK data (so these 86% share of streams from the UK) and gives a proportional picture of where else people streamed the event in an accurate relative representation.