This next blog post comes from Kerstin Donat, a JUMP! intern living in Taiwan. While Kerstin was a student at Kaohsiung American School, she and her classmates worked together to host their own TEDxYouth event. Kerstin is very passionate about the inspiration and change that can come as a result of events like these, and she is working with members of the JUMP! staff to get more schools putting on their own TED events. Here, Kerstin shares a bit of her experience in organizing and running this event, and why it has inspired her to get more people involved.


Do you remember your school’s vision? Or did thoughts about grades dominate? At Kaohsiung American School, most of the students are influenced by grades rather than the school’s vision. Yet, at the same time, they complain that only grades matter and that they don’t have a chance to talk about their true passions.

It bothered me that we kept our thoughts and ideas to ourselves, just because we felt as if we didn’t have the space to talk about them. I like to believe that a school’s vision can drive students just as much as grades do.

Therefore, I intended to find out exactly what would happen if I took the KAS vision of being a balanced individual, independent thinker, and global citizen –simply being BIG– and let students speak up. Having attended several TED events, I figured that a TED platform was the way to share ideas. So I obtained a TEDxYouth license, and together with a handful of other students, I worked for three months organizing a TEDxYouth event. The theme was decided to be “Go BIG”–obviously using the school’s vision.

We had six students and two teachers sharing their ideas on an afternoon in May. At first, I thought it would be easy to put people on a stage, but then, I realized that it was important to shape the stage in a way that the speakers would feel comfortable and the audience could easily engage. Thus, with no money and only a few hours after school at hand, we made the decorations, taught the speakers presentation skills, and filmed the entire event, ourselves.

As the coordinator of the entire event, I was proud of the variety of topics and insights that were shared that day. The topics ranged from being out of the norm and the lessons one could learn from a basketball game, to the fact that it takes more than Facebook to be truly global and the touching story of a teacher’s divorce and its impact on her.

It was astonishing to see how a group of 9th graders stood on the stage, sharing their thoughts about first impressions and the danger of prejudice, just as confidently as my IB English teacher talked about the importance of starting small, in order to develop great ideas.

I know the event will not have a huge impact or dramatically change the way students think about high school. However, I take with me that one does not need a huge stage, a lot of money, or famous people to talk about being independent, balanced, or global.

Sometimes the inspiration lies within us. If principals, teachers and, students could just take their school’s vision a little bit more seriously, they would probably see that these words relate to our daily life a lot more than grades do. In the end, it is a vision, rather than a grade, that carries us through life.


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