TED-Ed club members speak about negative impact of stereotypes

The theater lights dimmed as TED-Ed president Isha Date (12) stepped onto the stage, on March 29. Projected across a screen behind her were the words “We Do What We See” with her name centered underneath. Staring at the sea of students below her, she took a deep breath.

The theme for the clubs’ speaker event was “Shattering Stereotypes,” and the floor was hers. She was free to teach what she wanted to teach, to explain what she wanted to explain. The theater was filled with students who were eager to hear from Date and her fellow TED-Ed club members. Date was up first.

Inspired by the diversity of TED talk videos, which allow individuals to inform the public about numerous topics through various forms of media, she founded TED-Ed club her sophomore year.

In doing so, Date intended to provide Westview students with that same creative outlet, to allow them to share ideas in order to learn more about the world around them. And that is exactly what the clubs collaboration with ASB during “No Place for Hate Week” allowed them to do.

After Date finished her speech about the harmful effects of stereotypes during the event, Monet Gonzalez (12) spoke to the audience about body image, and finally, Jamie Geng (12) talked about world building in relation to students.

According to Geng, world building is the process of creating a fictional universe or reality. The world builder has the power to develop cultures, geography, currency systems, and more in their universe, giving them ultimate control of the inhabitants’ surroundings and lifestyles.

In tying this concept to modern day stereotypes, Geng hopes to appeal to a wider audience, one filled with fantasy readers with a love for mystical worlds.

“In Jamie’s speech about world building, I found it interesting how she took fantasy and connected it to day to day life. In Monet’s speech about body shaming and society, it was connecting mine and Jamie’s speeches and focused on a more specific yet important [form] of stereotyping that affects [nearly] everyone,” Date said. “[Watching the speeches] was like looking through a new lens, [and] I find it so amazing that each one of us has a different tone and content, yet in the end, it all comes together to [convey] one message.”

Not only did these speeches profoundly affect the audience, but they allowed the speakers to openly express themselves, showing their peers how stereotypes had directly impacted them.

“For me personally, I’ve definitely experienced stereotyping as an Asian-American girl,” Geng said. “A lot of us are pushed to fulfill a so-called positive stereotype about being smart, [and] it was cool to have an opportunity to challenge people to see an important issue in a different way.”

This was the second year that the club joined together with ASB for No Place For Hate week, an opportunity that shed light onto societal flaws and exposed the student body to TED-Ed.

“TED [ED] is a club that enhances professional skills, and helps people be open to more perspectives in a non-competitive and fun environment,” Date said. “As long as you aren’t being rude or inappropriate, you’re able to express your views, so that makes it really open for people to learn more things and focus on something that they truly like.”

In addition to expressing themselves, members have the opportunity to improve on their public speaking skills, which will help them in the future, in a safe and friendly environment.

While other clubs, such as speech and debate, focus on public speaking in a more professional manner, TED-Ed provides a relaxed approach that allows the speakers to focus more on self-expression, and in doing so, gain a unique set of public speaking skills that they wouldn’t be able to obtain through traditional methods.

Date said that during most meetings, which take place on Thursdays in room D116, members prepare their own TED presentations to share. In doing so, they are exposing the group to new ideas each week and broadening their perspectives.

“Each person goes through different things, or has friends that go through different things [and] experiences,” Date said. “It makes me understand the world in a new manner.”

Wanting to make sure that her club remains thriving once she graduates, Date is looking into planning more events that will gain exposure for the club and attract new members while teaching them something interesting.

Most recently, she has been in communication with other TED-Ed leaders in PUSD to plan a Poway TED conference collaboration later this spring.

Throughout her TED journey, Date says that not only has she become a better leader, but she has been able to learn more about others and connect their struggles to modern societal issues.

It has helped Date overcome her stage fright, and understand topics from multiple points of view. Her TED-Ed experience, she says, has changed her for the better, and she hopes that others will have the opportunity to experience the same thing.

“We’re open to anyone joining, [and] we want more students to be open to learning new perspectives and gain more leadership skills, gain a lot of friendships, and a lot of other knowledge, and share it with other people,” Date said.