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Gender roles in politics, homelessness in Portland and American Sign Language at home; Lincoln students took the stage at [email protected] to speak on issues and passions important to them.

On Saturday, November 17, this year’s [email protected] was held at White Stag building. At these events, youth speakers give speeches to help inspire people and spread new perspectives to their fellow youth. Several students from Lincoln helped to organize, and others spoke at the event. The Cardinal Times talked with some of the Lincoln students who were involved while they were preparing for it.

The TEDx program is separately organized from the TED conference, only receiving some guidance, hence the added “x.” Similarly to TED, this event tries to “bring people together” and “spark deep discussion and connection in a small group,” according to the [email protected] website.

Those involved with the event agree with the mission of TEDx, and especially appreciate the platform for youth to speak to peers. Senior Sophie Kemp has been a part of a core team of youth who organize the [email protected] Kemp has been involved for three years. Her responsibilities include planning and leading meetings, sending emails and assisting with other logistics.

“I think it’s really cool because we’re not normally given this platform […] to see youth speakers. I think it can inspire the speakers as well by hearing from people our age who are still figuring things out. There was a speaker two years ago [who] talked about how she was doing research on the brain, [which] inspired me to [volunteer with] medical research at OHSU.”

Natalie Wang, who also helped to organize the event, says that this event is important because it allows the audience to “sit down and reflect and being able to focus on really big issues and things that are on us to help fix. […] In this time when there’s a lot of stuff coming at you, it’s important to be able to.” Wang also commented that “it’s good for once that we’re not lectured at by adults.”

Everyone has that core assumption of who should be a strong leader already embedded in us because of the way we’ve been raised.”

— Madeline Gochee, TEDx Youth Speaker

The main idea behind TEDx events is to share ideas and experiences in a public format, which is evident in its slogan “ideas worth spreading.” Similarly, this [email protected] gives youth an opportunity to speak to peers about their passions. Each speaker talks from their own experience about what they know about the topic.

At the event, seniors Madeline Gochee and Caitlyn Aldersea talked about gender, according to Aldersea. “Gender in leadership, gender in politics and kind of what that means moving forward,” Aldersea said.

“We’re talking about a lot of feminine and masculine traits and how they manifest themselves in politics,” Gochee added.

“It’s something we’ve always really been passionate about,” Aldersea said. “We’ve been very active in student government and we’ve seen how that gender stereotype and gender imbalance can play out.”

“Everyone has that core assumption of who should be a strong leader already embedded in us because of the way we’ve been raised,” Gochee noted. “We think that trying to challenge that assumption to try and put women in power and have them stay there is a necessary step.”

Each year, there is a theme for the event and the speaker interprets the theme and discusses it in their own speech. This year, the theme is “crossroads.”

“The way I interpreted it is we’re at this crossroads in politics on a local, national, and international scale where we’re seeing more women come into the leadership sphere,” Aldersea said. “But what does that mean exactly for how they’re perceived by basically anyone who’s looking [at] and watching them?”

Another speaker at the event, junior Evan Reynolds, talked about his role as a child of deaf adults.

“I occasionally act as a crossroads between the deaf and hearing worlds since I grew up in both,” Reynolds noted.

In his talk Reynolds discussed intersectionality and “people having all these different cultures and perspectives on life.” He says he wants to bring his perspective into a more public setting and make people more aware of the community he’s so familiar with.

“It’s a different kind of intersectionality between the hearing world and hearing culture and the deaf world and deaf culture, which most people aren’t really aware exists,” said Reynolds.

For some of the speakers, this event was one of the first times they spoke in a large and public setting. To prepare for the event, speakers had an advisor assigned to them who helped “check in and make sure everything is going hunky-dory,” as Reynolds put it. “They edit my speech, tell me where I could improve some stuff and where I should expand.”

“At the end of the day,” said Wang as she reflected upon her participation in TEDxYouth, “I think it’s going to be our job to be aware of the stuff going on around us and do something about it.”

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