On Sunday, TEDxVillanovaU held its first virtual conference, “Solve for Why,” featuring 11 speakers live from the John and Joan Mullen Center for Performing Arts.
Hosting a TEDx conference in the midst of a pandemic has never run so smoothly. Attendees were mailed an audience experience box as well as a secure Zoom link for the official attendees. There were more than 100 official attendees and 380 livestream viewers for the event.
Experience boxes contained a T-shirt, reusable utensils, notepads and even cookies made from crickets. A “Solve For Why’’ conference pamphlet was also emailed to attendees to deliver the schedule and details on what TEDx is and the goal of Sunday’s conference.
“This year’s theme is: ‘Solve for Why,’” the pamphlet stated. “We chose this theme because as we attain a greater understanding of the why behind our actions and beliefs, our lives will hold more purpose. The goal of the conference is to ignite change by explaining or asking the ‘Why’ behind the ‘What’ and ‘How’ of many important and complicated topics.”
The event was broken into a combination of sessions and breaks, allowing for group discussion with the speakers and mindfulness exercises. Breaks also consisted of musical and dance performances from various artists. Between three sessions, two breaks and closing remarks, the schedule had a nice flow in an organized manner.
Talks ranged from why you should eat insects, more specifically crickets, to social change within coffee houses; yet they all tie back to understanding the “why.” The fascinating topics and the collaborative, cultural environment the event upheld made the all-day event extremely beneficial for attendees and viewers. Whether a member of the Villanova community, alumni or simply interested intellectuals, the conversations about the talks between speakers and viewers were an experience like no other.
Plenty of University alumni were able to speak at the event including Chris Cahill, Liesel Schwarz, Darryl Reynolds, Michael R. Coad, Tom Edwards and Briana Taylor. Professors and staff at Villanova also had the opportunity to present, including Virginia Smith and Teresa Nance. Current students also spoke their “Solve for Why,” including sophomore Allison Bajada, junior Adriana Gurreri and freshman Claire Humphrey. The wide range of demographics among the speakers allowed for diversity within the talks as well as room for similarity, as issues at Villanova from past to present were addressed and discussed.
Co-Presidents Simon Brooks and Alexis Norcross concluded in the closing remarks that the countless Zoom meetings and hours of planning this event for over a year had finally paid off.
“TEDxVillanovaU: Solve for Why was worth every Zoom meeting, late night, frustration and obstacle jump,” Norcross said. “It truly took a village to pull off, but Simon and I couldn’t be more grateful for the leadership and management skills we have learned along the way, the intelligent and passionate people we have had the opportunity to connect with, and the minds we will open as the talk get put up on TED.com and shared with the world. Simon and I hope we are able to smoothly pass the baton to the next generation of our organization and that the growth of the club only continues.
I am experiencing a full range of emotions now that the conference is over - speechless, relieved, sad, happy, fulfilled, inspired, nostalgic and motivated.”