No Spare Change: A Trip to TEDx in Wilmington, DE

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Felicia Glover, Columnist

I was sponsored to attend the TEDx “Wilmington Women” talk in Wilmington Delaware to hear all of the wonderful speakers and represent the Women with Children program.

For those who haven’t yet caught wind of the talks: TEDx talks are independently organized events designed to share diverse ideas.

When I first arrived in Wilmington, I couldn’t help but notice the town’s history.

I stopped to place my bags down at the Hotel DuPont, a lavish hotel with family heirlooms, fine dining and lounge areas.

It was an impressive structure. My room was very spacious and the bathroom had a huge tub.

I had a scheduled dinner meeting with Ajitt George, who has organized TEDx Wilmington talks for five years, and I did not want to be late.

As students, we forget that these very important and professional people have a human side. We get so nervous preparing what to do and say that we tend to come off as robots. We rehearse all day in the car and all night in the mirror.

As I arrived on 8th and Union, the site of a cozy hometown favorite restaurant, I was so nervous. But Ajit was very friendly and – get this – he had done some research on me!

How shocking it was to discover that he knew where I was from and what school I attended. He was interested in me.

My surprise caused me to drop my barriers and be comfortable and more authentically myself.

We sat and ate dinner among all those who would be presenting the next day. Ajit stood up and told the speakers and guests to introduce themselves and say something interesting about themselves in 30 or 40 seconds!

So I had to do that before, say, 25 strangers.

When it was my turn, I realized I was surrounded by an eight-time Emmy award winner, a giving woman who built a health center in India, a professional woman who is a campaign manager for a governor and has worked in politics for 13 years…

You get the gist.

What was I to say that could possibly be interesting? Maybe my being a student was enough.

Surprisingly, many of the women in the room that night wanted to know more about WWC here at Misericordia.

I was able to network among many people of different backgrounds and get some helpful feedback.

After dinner, I was amped up from the great vibes and wonderful stories I heard from the dinner social.

The next morning, we arrived at the World Cafe Live where the TEDx was held.

There were so many people and freebies! I grabbed my name tag and my free gift and went off to find my seat.

I spotted some of the women I saw at dinner the night before, and I offered good luck and headed to my seat, which was among the VIPs.

I was greeted by Akura TAHIRA, a professional storyteller, as I shuffled through the crowd. She said she spells her name in all capsĀ  so it is BIG everywhere she goes. She shared with me that she was a mom as well, and she was happy that I made it to the TEDx Wilmington. We hugged each other, and she went on stage. Her presentation was so unique: She sang and told a captivating story about her mom, which had such a cool community connection.

Each speaker was unique and every one of them had a story that was intriguing and appealing.

As the morning session started to come to an end, lunch came around, and boy was I hungry!

However, the main TED talk with the theme “Women and Time” was being held that same day in San Francisco, and it live streamed while we enjoyed our meal.

Lunch gave the presenters a break to eat, and for the next round of speakers, it was a chance to get their last bit of nerves out of the air.

Lunch ended and session two began, and these ladies got right to their topics.

This was a great experience, and if it weren’t for the university and my connections to WWC, I would not have been given the opportunity. I was able to meet fascinating women and men in the realm of public speaking, which is something I love. If you are given the opportunity to attend a conference and your department is willing to sponsor you, go for it. As students, we need these professional experiences outside of school structured conferences or networking events.

Maybe, just maybe, one year I will share my dynamic professional experiences via the TEDx, or maybe even from the TED stage. Hey, we all can dream, right?