TedXGeorgiaTech series promotes community

Photos by Tuna Ergan Student Publications

Last Friday, Georgia Tech held its third TedX Talk of the semester as a part of its “Vision” series, which featured nine student speakers over three days. Audience members heard inspiring stories from students who’ve turned struggles into lessons they’ve applied to their college lifestyles. 

The first talk was given by Hassaan Asif, a third-year CHEM major who loves boxing and photography. He spoke about the difficulty of coming to Tech and experiencing imposter syndrome, a reality many new students feel as they become small fish in a big pond. Last year, Asif began to volunteer at a medical center open for only two hours a week. This experience was incredibly formative for him as he realized that he didn’t have to be a high-powered medical professional to profoundly impact the people around him. 

For the rest of his talk, he lamented the belief that seemingly insignificant students can’t be influential, and he emphasized that just being there for both strangers and loved ones counts as volunteerism. 

He concluded by stressing that Georgia Tech’s motto is progress and service, and that doing small things for each other does a great service not only to our community, but to our own mental health. 

The second speaker was Vishaka Holsambre, fourth-year CS, fascinated by influencer marketing and its ethics. She delved into the rise of influencers, especially on Instagram, and talked about how this has changed traditional advertising methods and has challenged the definition of beauty. The main takeaway was that we should not be so quick to discard the efforts of influencers to sell us their sponsored products; we should instead support their individuality and applaud their hard work. This new facet of the economy allows for a much more diverse and interesting market, and we should encourage voices from the minority rather than squash them. 

The last talk was on what it means to play when you’re a busy college student. Sarthak Narjivan, a pre-health CHEM major in his fourth year at Tech, reminisced about his first year away from home living in Smith Residence Hall. He and the rest of his floor found a community in the shower stalls; they literally formed a team of shower pranksters called TeamShower. 

After a year of throwing soap on each other every night, Narjivan says he realized the group had done far more than create a fun nighttime distraction. They’d found a safe, invigorating, and family-like environment doing something completely silly and definitely not career-related. When asked what he’d tell students who say they don’t have the time to play, he answered, “I’d say you do. You have to adopt the idea that life is easy, not complicated. Once you do that, you see that you can shape your life around your commitments. When you make time for fun, the hard parts get easier and go by quicker. Time expands to fit what you need it to be.” He finished by giving Tech students three pieces of advice: one, find people who share your passion, two, be as spontaneous as possible whenever possible and three, work toward a crazy goal that will give your life direction, even if it’s ridiculous. 

The event was put on by 33 students, one of whom was first-year Tanya Iyers. She encouraged other students to get involved, saying she’d found an “inspiring and intellectual community” in the TedX organization. Students can apply to join either the Finance, Media, Speakers, Production, Community or Programming team when they sign up to help with the next Ted Talk.