Year 12 student Annie Liu was inspired by TED talks - so she decided to organise her own. Her speakers covered some of the big issues facing society today.
Lauriston Girls’ School Year 12 student Annie Liu was inspired by TED talks – so she decided to organise her own. Her speakers at the TEDxYouth event at the school last weekend covered some of the big issues facing society today. We speak to Annie about her inspiration – and how she squeezed in organising the event in the middle of Year 12.
How old were you when your first started watching TED talks? Was there a particular talk you remember?
I’ve been watching TED talks with my family since I was around 11-years-old. For me, the most memorable talk would definitely have to be one delivered by Taylor Wilson – a boy who had already built a nuclear fusion reactor by the time he was 14! His speech taught me that age does not have to restrict our achievements, and that young people definitely have the capacity to spark change. I hoped to pass on this message by setting the theme for TEDxYouth@LGS as ‘Shaping the Future’.
You had an impressive line-up of speakers. Can you talk about the event and some of the messages that resonated with you and the audience?
The speakers all delivered amazing, insightful talks, and I was delighted by their passion and dedication. I’d like to thank them so much for making the event a success. Lilith Pett, a Year 8 student, spoke to us about LGBTQIA representation, and how we need to make a conscious effort to avoid hastily judging others. As students, I think this is important to keep in mind as we mature and interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures.
Another speaker, Shasta Henry, discussed how the future will be better than anticipated, and the role of science and technology in shaping what lies ahead. Considering the abundance of distressing stories regarding war and terrorism in the media, her speech helped shift our mindsets and also allowed us to recognise the rapid change driven by technology.
Overall, from Creole languages to the dangers of nuclear weaponry, the speakers all addressed a diverse array of topics, and I’m sure each audience member was captivated by their energy and drive. The speakers definitely made the time I’d spent organising the event worthwhile!
How have you managed to find the time to organise the event in the middle of Year 12?
It’s definitely been challenging, especially as I’m undertaking the International Baccalaureate program, which requires students to complete tasks like a 4000-word research essay on top of pre-existing schoolwork.
However, the experience has taught me much about time management and organisation. For instance, I started planning for the event early on the year, as I knew I would be short on time in later months due to upcoming exams.
Having the freedom to select guest speakers, event decoration and more, also made the entire organisational process one that was fun, rather than tedious. It was a welcome break from schoolwork and watching the event coming together was one of the highlights of my year. Not to mention, I had an amazing team of student and teacher volunteers helping out, which I’m very grateful for.
What sort of obstacles did you face in getting the event together?
Initially, I knew that I wanted to include student and teacher speakers from my school, as well as guest speakers from the local community. However, finding guest speakers proved to be a challenge, as I had to research and contact each guest speaker individually, which took a considerable amount of time.
I spent hours searching on the internet for innovative ideas, before looking for the best people to deliver these messages.
Sometimes guest speakers that I desperately wished to hear from were busy, which was disheartening at the beginning. In the end however, I was able to achieve a line-up of speakers who were all knowledgeable and passionate about their area of interest. I couldn’t have hoped for better.
You have already been accepted for an internship at the Department of Treasury and Finance. Have you any thoughts about what you might do after Year 12?
In the future, I’m interested in studying development economics and potentially working at the World Bank. In the past, I’ve participated in volunteer trips to places like Cambodia and Borneo, and seen first-hand the humble conditions and lack of infrastructure in rural regions. I hope to one day return to these places and help promote sustainable development.
I also love learning about science, and in particular chemistry, and I think pursuing a career focused on the intersection between science and economics – perhaps via a double-degree – would definitely be interesting.
Main image: Annie Liu, centre, with presenters Kathleen Esser, teacher ,and Bella Crouch, Year 12.
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