Yale World Fellows give "the talks of their lives" at Yale University

Pessimism is good. Democracy is something you either use or lose. And water just might be an ideal agent for change in the Middle East. These were the messages shared by several former Yale World Fellows at a TEDx event that took place recently at Yale.

The event, called TEDxYaleWorldFellows, brought six former Yale World Fellows back to campus to give “the talks of their lives” on a broad range of issues that spanned African capital markets to the fight for democracy in Venezuela. The speakers were: Alexander Evans, a British diplomat, academic and expert on Pakistan; Nicky Newton-King, deputy CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Claudia Lopez, a Columbian journalist and activist; Gidon Bromberg, an Israeli environmental activist working in the Middle East; Maria Corina Machado, an opposition politician in Venezuela; and Huzir Sulaiman, a dramatist, director, actor and teacher in Singapore.

TEDx events are based on the original TED conference, started by a non-profit committed to “ideas worth sharing,” that brings together leading thinkers and challenges them to give their best talk ever — in 18 minutes or less. The organization, which originally focused on technology, entertainment and design (hence the moniker), now focuses on a vast array of topics and holds several global conferences each year, with talks available to the general public for viewing online. In addition, the organization lends out the TED name to a larger number of smaller, local, self-organized “TEDx” events around the globe. The TEDxYaleWorldFellows event was the first TEDx event held at Yale.

“We are always seeking new ways to showcase the World Fellows, and the innovative TEDx platform provided us with a unique opportunity to simultaneously organize a dynamic on-campus event as well as record high-quality content for global distribution,” says Valerie Belanger, director of programs for the Yale World Fellows.  

Lopez, who gave a talk about “The Power of Voice,” told the audience about how, when she finally reached voting age in her home country of Columbia, she was devastated when her top three candidates were all assassinated in the months leading up to the national election. Along with other students, Lopez helped lead a protest and, in the years since, has traveled the country to report on the injustices being carried out by her own government. “Some cowards have the power to kill, but we all have the power to speak,” she told the audience. “The darker the issue, the brighter the light of your words.”

Bromberg, who spoke on “Water, Peace and the Arab Spring,” is another former World Fellow working to bring about peace and justice in his homeland, the Middle East. There, he works with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists to promote peace and cooperation among the different communities by educating them about a shared resource on which they all rely: the Jordan River water supply. Slowly, Bromberg is helping to build trust, interdependence and cooperation and to overcome fear, while simultaneously protecting a valuable natural resource.

The other World Fellows’ talks included: Evans, “Why Pessimism Is Good”; Machado, “Democracy: Use It or Lose It”; Newton-King, “African Capital Markets”; and Sulaiman, “Mentoring Creativity.”

Despite hailing from different locations across the globe and the varied themes of their talks, all six speakers challenged the audience to explore news ideas and points of view.

“For the past nine years, the World Fellows have been a source of inspiration and new thinking here on campus,” Belanger says. “We hope that others from the Yale community and around the globe will share in the experience by watching these engaging talks online.”

Watch the TEDxYaleWorldFellows here.

By Suzanne Taylor Muzzin

Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this