TEDxEMU unites EMU

Members of the EMU and Ypsi community gathered in Quirk.

If there were a way to take the entire college experience and compact it into one day, it would be through TEDxEMU.

Members of Eastern Michigan University and the Ypsilanti community joined together in Quirk Theatre on Friday to share ideas and participate in a discussion on the future through the TEDxEMU conference.

TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, is a nonprofit organization that helps communities begin discussions on ideas based on those subjects. A TEDx event is run and coordinated by the community. For the second year, EMU Campus Life Arts and Entertainment Program Coordinator Gregg Costanzo and his team put together TEDxEMU.

Mary Larkin, the EMU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center program coordinator, hosted the event. Larkin not only introduced all the speakers and presenters for the day, but also maintained an air of humor and kept the energy going, even as the audience began to tire near the end of the nine-hour event.

At one point, a member of the audience had misplaced his sunglasses. In response to demands from the crowd, Larkin put the sunglasses on herself before tossing them to their rightful owner.

The audience members had other moments where they banded together to cheer on and contribute to the energy of the day. During the breaks, audience members took opportunities to talk to the speakers, ask them questions, and contribute their own ideas to the ones presented. Even after the official TEDx event, there was an opportunity for everyone to gather and continue their discussions.

Of course, the whole day couldn’t take place without the numerous people who got up and shared their ideas. The topics ranged from a musical synopsis of Hans Christian Anderson to a speech about the importance of linguistics regarding technological advances.

One particular lecture was about the form and function of classrooms by Donald Ritzenhein, an EMU communications professor with 30 years of experience.

“I’ve been long frustrated with how classrooms are put together,” Ritzenhein said.

In his speech, he discussed how science labs are built for the functions of the classroom, while liberal arts classrooms don’t allow for the most effective teaching styles in most universities. Ideally, he said, classrooms should be made in such a way that “professors aren’t just the sage of the stage; they’re the guide to the side.”

After lunch, an especially awe-inspiring performance was given by the student choir of the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences. After first singing “Where is the Love” by Ralph MacDonald, they sang a version of “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys edited to be about living in the Motor City. The combination of rapping and musical talent brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.

However, it was the final presentation that reminded the audience about the significance of being part of the EMU community.

Adam Al-Sanabani, Hiba Baghdadi, Muneeb Khan and Ryan Al-Sanabani stood up and presented how each of them ended up coming to EMU through storytelling. The stories were overflowing with details of trial, war, the significance of family and the importance of education. This final presentation not only wrapped up TEDxEMU well, but also brought every member and participant together as a tighter community.

For those who didn’t attend this year’s TEDxEMU, you may have missed out on the connection created within the audience, but you did not miss out on opportunities to hear the presentations. In approximately 30 days, www.tedxemu.com will have the video of the day’s presentations available to the public.

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