On April 14, TEDxKAISTChange was held in the Applied Engineering Building’s Media Lecture Room with three invited speakers and fifty attendees. With three previous successful events on campus, TEDxKAISTChange was the fourth installment under the same theme as TEDxChange – a special project by TED and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – held on April 5 in Berlin. The topic for TEDxKAISTChange was The Big Picture, with three speakers sharing stories about how they have devoted their lives to look at the neglected corners of the world that need a shed of light.
TEDxKAIST was organized when former student Mark Whiting acquired an official TEDx license in 2010, and held its first event in July of the same year. Since then, TEDxKAIST has held four events: Happiness for Science; From Here to the World; TEDxKAISTSalon: Living in Science; and the most recent, TEDxKAISTChange: The Big Picture.
According to the official TEDxKAIST website, the purpose of these gatherings is to “become a bridge between KAIST and the global community, spreading ideas from KAIST to the world, and bringing ideas from the world to KAIST.” In other words, TEDxKAIST invites speakers and provides a place where anyone – from invited speakers to students to the general public – can gather to share and generate ideas.
Typically, the attendees are very interactive individuals who are passionate about TEDx or about each event’s topic. For the introverts at the event, there are several coffee breaks during which all attendees are put into small groups where they can freely interact. In this way, everyone can share their ideas and stories with others.
The entire TEDxKAIST event is run by “organizers” who not only show up on stage but also work behind the scenes. At the beginning of every semester, TEDxKAIST recruits these organizers who plan and run each event. Currently, there are fifteen organizers separated into five different committees – Management, Finance, Public Relations, Design and Tech.
Rather than having a large group of people working together, however, the TEDxKAIST organizers are a small group of fervent students who are ready to do their jobs. At their regular meetings, no one ever forces another to do something as they are all dedicated enough to do their jobs voluntarily.
“Rather than having too many members, we have a small group of people who are really willing to work,” said Director Suhyung Yoo, a senior majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering. “What we are seeking is the flexibility of the organization.”
Yoo began working for TEDxKAIST in 2010 after coming across the TEDxKAIST Twitter page by coincidence. Like Yoo, all Organizers have signed up to work for TEDxKAIST voluntarily. Last year, junior Biological Sciences major Jiwon Lee also joined of her own will, starting her job at TEDxKAIST with simultaneous interpretation on the Management Team.
“I definitely enjoy it. I like the people I’m working with,” said Lee. “Fundamentally, it is a group of people who want to share the TED spirit – sharing ideas and interesting things people are passionate about. It’s a great place to have fun.”
TEDxKAIST is a series of events with the same theme as TED, “Ideas worth Spreading.” However, since TEDxKAIST is not officially a part of KAIST, organizers must search for sponsors. The past events were financially supported by KAIST as well as various local organizations such as Satrec Initiative. Aside from financial sponsors, TEDxKAIST also receives help from material sponsors such as Dunkin’ Donuts. Advertising is also done entirely by organizers, typically by using popular social networking services such as Twitter (@TEDxKAIST) and Facebook.
With a significantly bigger TEDxKAIST event planned for this summer, Organizers will be going back to work soon.
“We wish to provide the grounds where people can interact, develop and share their passion with others,” said Yoo. “Whereas TED is held on a global scale, TEDx is an independently organized event, seeking hidden voices in that community. We hope you use this opportunity to take a more careful look around.”