After being cancelled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, preparations for the rescheduled 10th-annual TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event are underway, aiming to share new ideas to the Binghamton University community.
The 2020 TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event will take place virtually on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., including both live and prerecorded talks. Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) talks aim to allow passionate individuals to share speeches discussing personal ideas on stage to both an online and live audience. This year’s event will feature speakers ranging from Russell Korus, chief executive officer and co-founder of EZ365, a company that specializes in cryptocurrency, to The New York Times-featured psychotherapist Laura Jacobs, who focuses on issues of gender, sexuality and alternate lifestyles.
Attendees can reserve their spot on B-Engaged and, unlike previous years, the event will be free with unlimited spots. The live performance is set to take place at the Osterhout Concert Theater in the Anderson Center which will have 30 masked, socially distanced audience members through invitation.
The TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event is structured after the TEDx program, an independent branch of TED talks that gives local communities a chance to share new ideas without the grandeur of a large, multiday conference. TEDxBinghamtonUniversity emulates this initiative by being directed by BU students.
Sofia Fasullo, a student director for TEDxBinghamtonUniversity and a junior double-majoring in mathematics and geography, chose the 2020 theme “UNEARTHED” along with the other student directors, as it reflects the bold, diverse and controversial nature of this year’s talk.
“TEDxBinghamtonUniversity will be ‘unearthing’ ideas this year,” Fasullo wrote in an email. “Whether entrenched within social norms, deemed too intimidating to understand, forgotten or overlooked, these ideas were ‘buried’ and now will be focused on by each of our speakers.”
According to Fasullo, preparations for the upcoming TEDx are unprecedented as the COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges for the student directors and event organizers. Despite this, she believes the perseverance, hard work and resourcefulness of the event team will result in a successful conference with lasting effects.
“Organizing this TEDx conference during pre-pandemic circumstances has required intensive work,” Fasullo wrote. “But postponing it from March 2020 to September 2020 and adapting it to a virtual format has required all of us directors to create new skill sets within ourselves. We could not follow the format of conferences from the years past; we had to trust ourselves to make important and impactful decisions for the future of TEDxBinghamtonUniversity.”
One of the members of the TEDx team that will be on stage in the Osterhout Concert Theater is Flynn Anderson, host of the event and a junior majoring in biomedical engineering. Anderson started off applying to be the student speaker of the TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event, but got the hosting job instead. As host, Anderson plays a role not only on stage, but also in engaging the public community.
“We did a handful of promotional [activities] and social media posts initially, with myself trying to raise awareness to the event,” Anderson wrote in an email. “I’ll be introducing our speakers, welcoming everyone in the audience, things like that. It should be a good time.”
Joining Anderson on stage will be David Mathews, the student speaker for the event and a junior double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and philosophy. Following his application and interview process, Mathews built and refined his talk, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” which focuses on the importance of reflection as a mechanism for personal growth.
According to Mathews, he made no changes to his original speech as he believes it is as polished as it can be and his talk will remain in-person at the Osterhout Concert Theater. Mathews expresses gratitude for the work the TEDx team and theater staff has done to allow him to be up on stage with an audience.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the TEDxBinghamton team for making the event possible and for going the extra mile to ensure I could deliver my talk in person,” Mathews wrote in an email. “I far prefer to give my talk live, as I feel audience engagement is extremely important in a talk that involves humor.”
Mathew adds that the effort and resilience that will make this TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event possible is a shining example of finding light in the middle of darkness.
“It’s great to be involved in such an historic event during such an historic time,” Mathews wrote. “This is one of the first TEDx events to be held virtually, and its partial in-person component distinguishes it as well. When I look back at an unforgettable 2020, this experience will be among the first things to come to mind, as it represents the perseverance and ingenuity that this pandemic has demanded from us all.”
Individuals can register for the event.