Technology Coordinator Mariam Mathew routinely utilizes TED talks in her classes to present interesting ideas, and discuss how to apply those ideas beyond the classroom.

TED, which stands for Technology, Education and Design, is a nonprofit organization that hosts conferences which bring together “ideas worth spreading.” The organization prides itself on bringing together “free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

TEDx talks are conferences that are independently organized and occur outside of official TED venues. A student-driven committee of upperclassmen, Alec Ashley (’15), Gabriel Ruimy (’15), Alexandre Ruimy (’14) and Andre Purits (’15), along with Parent David Alberts will be introducing TEDx talks to the ASL community at the first ever TEDx conference hosted at ASL.

On October 12, at TEDxASL, the committee will bring together British, American and international speakers from the London community. “We wanted to do something that would connect ASL to the outside community and get [students] to start thinking about the community as a whole rather than just the American perspective,” Ashley said.

The theme of the event will be “empowering a community through one,” Ashley said. Speakers will be coming from a variety of backgrounds including business, psychology and literature. Regardless of their backgrounds, speakers will be tying their presentations to the same thematic thread.

Mathew, who has acted as a mentor for the students involved in the venture, explained the theme. “The idea is that sometimes you have just one individual who has an idea and he or she might get others excited about making a change in their communities. “We’re looking at it from that perspective: sometimes it takes just a single spark to ignite the fire and get a real blaze going,” she said.

Speakers at the event include both ASL parents such as Elaine Proctor-Bonbright and Emmanuel Roman, and speakers from outside the school community including Professor of Globalization at the University of Oxford Ian Goldin.

The conference’s beginnings closely reflect the overall theme, that it only takes a single powerful idea to begin a journey and create change. When Mathew first introduced the idea last winter in a meeting for the Gender Rights and Equalities Action Trust (GREAT) Initiative with Gabriel, Alexandre, Ashley and Purits it was met with excitement, but was soon sidelined while the GREAT project which involved selling wristbands to the ASL community to fundraise for a women’s radio program in Liberia took priority. While his friends took on greater responsibility for the GREAT project, Ashley began to work behind the scenes on the TED idea. He contacted Alberts, who had attended the original TED conference, and together the team began working on completing the application process to register TEDxASL as an official event. Once their application was approved Ashley, Alexandre and Gabriel began identifying and emailing hundreds of potential speakers. The creation of a speaker selection committee comprised of ASL faculty and staff helped narrow down and finalize the list of speakers. Now, after months of work, the TEDx conference has a total of 13 scheduled live speakers.

Mathew hopes that ASL students will take advantage of this opportunity, and aims to see “a mix of our community and people who have nothing to do with our [ASL] community.” She believes the conference is a step in the right direction to aid in breaking through the ASL bubble.

Ashley hopes this year’s event will kick off a tradition for years to come “We’re hoping to make [TEDxASL] an annual event, and get more students involved in the process,” he said.