Last Thursday, October 4, the second edition of TEDx Universiteit van Amsterdam was held at the CREA Theatre. The theme of this edition was ‘Crossing Borders’, introducing multiple subjects linked to the theme, such as globalization, equality and migration. “If we all step out of our field and cross the borders, the possibilities are endless,” stated Berend van der Meer, one of the speakers at the event, about the theme.
TEDx Universiteit van Amsterdam hosted seven speakers, who provided a compelling speech connected to their field of education or career. One of the speakers, Kati Piri, unfortunately, did not attend the event but the organizers arranged two other speakers. Apart from the actual ‘talks’, guests could enjoy two screenings from the other TED-conferences.
The event started with a capturing talk from Eduard Nazarski, a director of the Amnesty International in the Netherlands. Nazarski discussed the refugee crisis as well as solutions to this problem internationally and individually. He emphasized the necessity to discuss about the refugee crisis and encouraged everybody to participate in the debate to create better living conditions for people in need.
The second speaker was Joris Melkert, a lecturer in aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Delft. As Melkert was closely involved with the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (also known as MH17) crash investigation, he discussed how professionals were evaluating what actually happened with the aircraft crash. Melkert gave several examples of plane crashes in the past decades and gave his analysis of the MH17-crash. At the end of his speech, Melkert assured the guests that air transport is one of the safest ways to travel, since sources of statistics have shown there to be one chance in 11 millions of an airplane accident to occur.
Harry Piekema, who is best known for his appearance in the Albert Heijn tv commercials, but who is also a communication consultant and trainer, discussed the best ways to communicate. Piekema described six ways to communicate, which helps to cross the border of the self and to make connection easier with others. He emphasized that if you want to seem confident you have to “talk from your chest”, bringing your own attention and thoughts to that area, relaxing shoulders and not focusing on the mind as much. After his talk, Piekema answered the question asked by The Amsterdammer, regarding the best ways for students to communicate and give presentations. “I think the main thing is to focus on yourself, to be able to look for the words and give yourself the space to do so. You can train that and your body will get used to it, it will relax and you will be able to answer more quickly. If you have to give a presentation, try to focus beforehand on what is your sensual statement. Focus on what it is exactly that you want and why you want to say it,” outlined Piekema.
To touch upon crossing borders in our contemporary world its resources, Judith Walker, the director of Operations African Clean Energy and listed on Forbes’ top 30 under 30 European Social Entrepreneur 2016, discussed the importance of energy access in the third world countries. Walker discusses the energy poverty across the world as well as explained her work in distributing energy products to people who have insufficient access to energy. “Energy is a human right,” stated Walker in her important and moving talk. She emphasized that, even though her work is highly dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to energy, it is still quite impossible to make a grand change on her own. For that reason, she invited the guests to think about the impact that each makes and what is possible to do, when people come together to solve an emerging issue.
Philip Croon, the winner of TEDx Universiteit van Amsterdam Pitch Night, also shared his ideas on motivation and self-development. Croon is a master student in medicine as well as the founder of MediMaat B.V. In his talk, he shared several personal reasons that enhanced his motivation to become a doctor. Further, he addressed our stated question regarding the motivational aspects to study: “Doing things don’t come from motivation, but you get motivation when you start doing things. For me, developing a start-up company next to my studies or working in the oncology department was very motivational, because it was my own thing. If you have something, that you really like and you are passionate about, it is much more easier to work for it and stay inspired.”
To continue the theme of people’s health, Berend van der Meer gave the guests an interesting talk about the innovation of medical start-ups. Meer explained the difficult aspects of understanding a human body and how even more difficult is to examine it. He argued, that studying the human body by experimenting on animals is not effective since they are very different from humans. Further, Meer explained, that he works with other researchers to try to recreate a human heart using a chip. Although the research is not complete, it has a great potential to achieve the desired results and save numerous lives in future.
Another speaker, Chris Baldwin, a speaker and a founder of the 10X Digital, talked about the importance of choices people make in their daily lives. To make a good decision, it is important to analyze the many alternatives, while focusing on a greater goal. Then Baldwin argued that there are only two things people have to do: they die and make choices. It may sound a bit static and heavy-handed, but it does carry out a meaning, that contributes to making each decision worthy. “We make things exponential, the options are limitless,” emphasised Baldwin.
The last speaker of the TEDx Universiteit van Amsterdam talk was Thijs Launspach, a psychologist with expertise in stress management. Launspach talked about the dangers of stress and ways people can deal its impact on their bodies and mental health. The speaker argued, that people have to find a balance between too much stress and too little stress. He emphasized, that the best way to handle stress is by a healthy diet, exercise and meditation. “You either deal with stress, or stress deal with you,” states Launspach.
Overall, the TEDx Universiteit van Amsterdam was a success in providing the audience with many compelling ideas and guest speakers. After the official part of the event, the speakers, organisers and audience enjoyed drinks at the lovely CREA cafe and continued the discussion.