TEDxUTSC is an annual event in which chosen students, university staff and faculty, and external speakers create and perform speeches on topics of their choice. It is an independently organized event, organized by UTSC students and licensed by TED Global, which uses an educative platform using celebrities and other individuals whom have strong messages or interesting topics to convey. TEDxUTSC is just one of many things that make the campus such an inclusive and stimulating environment for both the student body and faculty alike, as it allows them to learn from the personal stories and thoughts of their peers. The Underground had the opportunity to interview two of this year’s speakers, Hana Syed and professor David Zweig.
Hana Syed, a third year double major in Neuroscience and Psychology, is the student speaker for this year’s TEDxUTSC. Alongside her brother in sister, Syed is part of a non-profit organization called ‘Global Youth Impact’ with. Syed disclosed information on several topics, ranging from balancing a workload with extracurricular activities, to public speaking, to finding a sense of identity.
The Underground (UG): What interested you in participating in TEDxUTSC?
Hana Syed (HS): I think that TEDx is a unique type of platform because it allows you to reach out to a greater sized community, or, generally, people that you wouldn’t necessarily always get the opportunity to talk to. (I chose to get involved) mainly because it’s a platform where I can get my word out, opposed to when I’m just chatting away.
UG: Do you have a topic in mind that you’re interested in speaking about?
HS: My topic is on identity; (in essence), about how there’s a lot of ambiguity surrounding the term ‘identity’, and how there’s intersectionality that (isn’t) necessarily thought of when we think of the term ‘identity’. I talk about how, as a society, we’re so used to labelling people based off of their physical appearances when there’s actually so much more behind it. So, I guess my take-home message is really about how we need to reject labels that society or individuals impose on us so that we can find our individual identities and our own sense of belonging in this world.
UG: How did you connect your talk idea to the theme ‘Ellipses’?
HS: ‘Ellipses’ is really about a break in a sentence. [The] theme [is] about how the media, or people (in general), tend to create a bias off of people’s personal stories, and because you’re the person telling your story, there’s not going to be any bias from what other people may have heard about it.
UG: How do you attain the confidence to put yourself in such a vulnerable and open position to get up in front of so many people and share what you think?
HS: I enjoy it! I’m a singer: I sing with my siblings, so you get this weird kind of high, I guess, from being onstage or being in front of a crowd of people. I love feeding off of the energy from being in front of such a [large] group of people.
UG: Do you have any advice for others that are interested in partaking in TEDxUTSC?
HS: Yeah, I would (suggest they) go for it! I know there’s only one student position they give as a speaker and it’s kind of just like, you go for it and you see if you get it or not. It’s really interesting because TEDx allows you to talk about things that you don’t necessarily always get the chance to talk about, and if you have the opportunity, then seize it!
UG: Describe the application process for TEDxUTSC. I understand the applicants had to submit a video?
HS: So, what happened is I saw it on Facebook; they were posting a lot about submitting a video audition. So, you basically just had to film yourself doing a [speech]–kind of talking about yourself–give a background, and then pitch your idea to the TEDx team. I think it was like a three to four minute video and then there were three rounds [to go through]. That was the first round. The second round was where you had an interview with some of the team members, basically talking about your talk and just who you are as a person. The third round, you had to write a mini speech, so it was a bit longer than the first video. I think it was about ten minutes long and you just had to do it so they could kind of get the feel for what you were like as a speaker.
UG: How do you manage to balance things like TEDxUTSC and other extracurricular activities with what I imagine would be a heavy course load?
HS: So, I’m actually pretty involved: I have my own non-profit organization. It’s called Global Youth Impact. Basically, we’re a platform for young people or youth to be leaders, social advocates, and change makers within their communities and, [in] larger scales, abroad. That takes up a lot of my time! I’m also a singer: I sing with my siblings in a band called DEYS. Currently we have a song out with the Child Labour initiative. Last year we wrote and performed a song for the ParaPan Am and Pan Am Games, so that was featured by the BBC and Global News. I do a lot, and people are always asking, “How do you manage to balance it all?” Honestly, I don’t know! I think that, yes education has always been my number one and it’s something that’s definitely a priority to me, but, as an undergraduate student, we’re so young and right now is the time to go do things that you want to, you know?
Professor David Zweig
Professor David Zweig is an Associate Professor who teaches Organizational Behaviour and is also the Chair of the Department of Management at UTSC. He sat down to chat with us about his interesting research on deviancy, and to give a preview on what to expect during his talk this year.
The Underground (UG): What are you planning on speaking about at TEDxUTSC?
Professor David Zweig (DZ): I’m going to be talking about my research. My research focuses on deviant behavior at work, so I like to look at the dark side of behavior in organizations because I’m an organizational psychologist. That’s what interests me.
UG: What appealed to you about speaking at this event?
DZ: I was asked! They approached me and I thought, ‘Well, why don’t I give this a shot?’. I think it’s a fantastic event, and it’s a great opportunity. There are some things that I want to talk about that I think will be useful for some of the [attendees] at TEDx.
UG: What’s the message you wish to convey with your talk, and do you have a particular audience in mind that you want to reach?
DZ: Well, I’m assuming the majority of the audience will be students here at UTSC and perhaps other students elsewhere. I want to talk a little bit about my experiences studying people’s behavior at work and how we make sense of those behaviors. Also, I’m talking a little bit about some of the things that people engage in at work that can create a negative cycle of deviance, how we deal with that, and how we can actually break that cycle.
UG: What interested you in getting into that type of research?
Prof. DZ: I am going to talk about that for my TEDx talk, but it was an experience that I had in graduate school that got me really interested in looking at employee privacy and surveillance, and really delving into what that means for employees and how they react to it, and how that creates a cycle of deviance at work.
UG: How did you tie your talk into this year’s theme?
DZ: I’m really going to be talking about cycles of deviance. So, how we get trapped into these cycles of increasing deviance, especially when we’re being monitored at work, and when people do bad things, how we retaliate. And then again, we get trapped in these cycles, and so I’m going to talk a little bit about how we actually can break out of those cycles and create a different cycle that isn’t so deviant.
UG: In your own opinion, what would you consider different about TEDx talk versus teaching in a lecture hall?
DZ: It is completely different. It’s the same in the sense that I’m getting up in front of a group of people, but in a classroom, what I’m really talking about are the relevant theories and concepts for the topics I’m discussing. Here what I’m talking about is my own research, my own experiences, and the lessons that I’ve learned from my own research and experiences. In a classroom, it’s more about what we know about theory and practice, but this is really about what I have done over my career in terms of my research, which is pretty cool to have a chance to do.
UG: How do you feel TEDxUTSC is beneficial in giving students and faculty a voice to speak on what they’re passionate about?
DZ: I think it’s great! Anytime you have the chance to speak on what you’re passionate about, what you know something about, where you can make a contribution and offer something useful to others, I think it’s a great opportunity.
TEDxUTSC is on Feb. 4, 2017 and tickets are onsale now. Hana and Professor Zweig are just two of many wonderful speakers, all of whom have equally interesting topics. The night is bound to be filled with stimulating, exciting and thought-provoking speeches, so it’s definitely something you do not want to miss!