By LOUISA ROHDE
Around a 100 curious and bright minds gathered at the TEDx event hosted by the American School of Ulaanbaatar on November 19.
The event, directed at middle and high school students, was organized by Khulan Enkhbold, who herself is a 10th-grader at the American School of Ulaanbaatar, under the theme “What now?” which clearly refers to the peculiar situation students find themselves in after their graduation. The event was the first of its kind held at the venue.
The TEDx program is a spin-off of the annual five-day TED conference, which features interesting and outstanding speakers under the slogan “Ideas worth spreading”. A TEDx is generally a local and self-organized event, the “x” standing for “independently organized TED event” that serves as an opportunity to provide a platform for inspiration and innovation within communities. It also aims to spark profound discussions, and promote and encourage original thinking and inventive genius.
While choosing the speakers, Khulan Enkhbold looked out for people with intriguing stories, which would benefit her community and introduce brighter and better ideas to her schoolmates and the other attendees. In the end, the event featured six guest speakers and the screening of two thought-provoking video TED talks about procrastination and an escape from North Korea, as well as on-stage performances of the Assassins Dance Studio and magician Jargalsaikhan Batkhulig, who is best known for his performance in “Mongolia’s Got Talent” show.
Among the speakers were well-know UB personalities and newcomers alike.
At the age of only 15, Anar Amarjargal told the touching story of what it means to lose a loved one, and in turn taught the eager audience to cherish the people close to them.
Lkhagva-Erdene, an executive at Mongol TV, spoke about how journalism can save Mongolia, as it is a tool to improve society. According to him, especially investigative journalism is in a fragile state, often corrupted and heavily under-financed. He hopes that once media ethics are set in place, it would be an excellent way of addressing and fixing social issues and “bring social justice to Mongolia”.
Approaching the topic of the grace of charity, Maya Lkhagvasuren touched the issue of international volunteering, and how she has benefitted from helping others. Having volunteered in Kenya for some weeks herself, she emphasized the advantages of volunteering as a way of broadening one’s horizon, developing character, and finding appreciation and humbleness for one’s own living situation.
Elmond Ray Mondigo held a presentation with a title “Little things that matter”. He gave an example of two hours of unproductive leisure time, such as watching funny cat videos on Facebook per day, which over a year will accumulate to 730 hours, translating to roughly 30 days of doing nothing. Another one was the water intake deficit of one liter per day, which would add up to 365 liters one’s body would have needed.
By emphasizing the enormity of the negligence of “the little things”, he appealed to the audience to pay more attention to them, as they hold a greater significance than originally thought.
Tsolmon Bat-Erdene, an employee of Khan Bank, conveyed an “important message from the corporate world” to the overall young attendees. According to her, it is not sufficient to learn just one foreign language, but rather two or more, while Mon-golians should not neglect their native language over their eagerness to learn and communicate in English or another foreign language. She advised to take time to find one’s passion before devoting one’s life to a profession.
As a psychotherapist, Amy Rankin has achieved remarkable success in the field of mental health care among younger target groups. Having initiated mental health clubs and centers at Chinese schools, she tries to break the stigma related to mental health issues, and stop the discrimination people are exposed to in their society. She confessed that she herself suffers from depression and claimed that she tries to open up discussion on the issue, and relayed the message that it is perfectly fine to ask for help. Rankin said her ultimate goal is to reframe mental health as a positive part of everybody’s life, as “every person who possesses a heart and brain, possesses mental health”.
All talks at TEDx aimed to inspire a rethinking of existing societal structures and problems, as well as call for action and initiative to invoke change, as young people are set to become future leaders. The silence during the presentations indicated that the attendees actually took the advice and different perspectives offered to heart.
In addition, the event offered a superb and fun opportunity to mingle and interact with like-minded people of the same age over lunch, as one of the participants, an 11th-grader, tells me. It is safe to say that the combination of the educating and social aspects of the event made it a huge success.