12 Dec, 2022
13 : 31
YCIS Shanghai, YWIES Shanghai Lingang, YWIES Shanghai Gubei, YWIES Zhejiang Tongxiang, YWIES Guangzhou, YWIEK Shanghai Biyun, YWITDC Shanghai, YCIS Qingdao, and YWIES Yantai worked together to create an unprecedented feast of creativity where people of all backgrounds gathered together to share ideas, showcase achievements, and inspire imagination towards a better future.
The power of real personal experience
James, a Tanzanian Year 8 student from YWIES Shanghai Lingang, brought this six-minute original rap song and ignited the audience on the TEDx stage. He wanted to use music to recount his story as an "outsider"—a "third culture kid" who, as a newcomer to a new environment, would experience feelings of uneasiness repeatedly which then made himself more alienated, and closing off interaction with other people.”
The idea of using rap music to express one’s deepest confusion and struggle came from the suggestion of Jedediah, one of the TEDx talk leaders, also a teacher of Humanities and IB English Literature at YCIS Shanghai. "Many people think they have to talk about popular and hot topics on such a public speech platform but in fact, an meaningful personal experience is by far more effective and powerful."
"It is only in music that I can really set myself free." The shy boy can always manage to release all his energy once he steps on stage. He says this rap is for everyone, not just himself. "Lately, I’ve been trying to get out of myself to meet and talk to more people. I also want to use music to reach out to the audience and tell them it’s okay, and they too can get out of this struggle."
Dannie and Daelle, twins studying Year 6 at YCIS Shanghai, have been facing all kinds of stereotypes and ubiquitous comparisons. This time, in a relaxed and witty way, they joined hands on the TEDx stage to share their true feelings as well as their unique experiences of growing up.
They are no strangers to comments like - "Who was born earlier anyway?" "You’re her elder sister, so you shouldn’t cry!" "She did better than you!" Their parents, who are always consciously trying to treat their children "fairly", would often blurt out, "Dannie, why are you still doing your homework? Your sister is already going to bed." "Daelle, why can’t you try new things like Dannie?"
"Try putting yourself in our shoes. How would you feel if you kept hearing that?" On the TEDx stage, the two girls said they wanted to have their voices heard by everyone—"Twins may come in pairs, but please don’t keep comparing them."
There is a much bigger world that comes out of the everyday observations and experiences of students.
Nitrogen pollution was the topic chosen by Julian, a Year 12 student at YCIS Shanghai. "Excessive nitrogen emissions not only destroy soil quality and deplete the ozone layer, but also lead to eutrophication of water quality and affect the growth and reproduction of aquatic life." It affects the environment in which we live and threatens our health.
Nitrogen leads to a similar envirionmental awareness but is comparatively a less commonly discussed topic than carbon dioxide. Julian said that was the reason why he picked that as the subject of this TEDx talk. "I believe that if you say the same thing over and over again, people will become numb, and if you share something new and neglected, it might trigger something in people’s minds."
More than a decade ago, a female parent at YCIS Shanghai founded More Than Aware, an NGO dedicated to helping women prevent breast cancer and building connections among cancer patients. Two years ago, YCIS Shanghai students Vandy, Mary, Angelique, and Sophie joined this NGO it to learn about the knowledge and experience, and turn this awareness into action.
Two years passed and the four girls shared what they have learned on the TEDx stage.
They became active advocates encouraging teachers and students to set their health goals through joining the school walking marathon activities, raising health awareness in the community, and spreading the concept of active cancer prevention.
The experiences, insights, and perseverance in the process become a common strength that inspire others.
During the talk, the four girls revealed an actual figure of 3 million women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. One woman is being diagnosed every 26 seconds. And up to 70 to 80 percent of women have certain genres of breast diseases. "Breast cancer is not very far away from all of us. It’s not just a problem for some women, so we need everyone to join in this battle and do their part."
"This is also the reason why we stand here today," they said.
Imagine a future through the abstract language of art
"Reimagining—Building a colourful Future for Humanity" is the theme of the TEDx art exhibition. Hundreds of students' artworks from seven schools, covering painting, photography, sculpture, installation etc have created an immersive viewing experience for the audience.
Art is always about reimagination. Great artists, with their imagination and creativity, shape the form of culture, and promote the process of human civilization.
With aligning with culture and arts as part of the school mission, YCYW continues to explore the creativity of our students from early childhood through to primary and secondary levels, plus a specialised art and design upper secondary school. A team of professional art teachers with a wide range of art courses and activities help students to discover, think, and explore themselves and the world through art.
Why do we always think of paper and canvas when it comes to painting? Year 6 YCIS Shanghai students decided to do something different— that is to draw on stones.
They tried to find inspiration in the natural shape of stones—does a bump resemble a human nose? Does a crack look like a smiling face? Does a whole piece of rock remind them of an animal? With gouaches and markers, they brought these to life.
The learning of art at YCYW is often integrated with a broader range of cultural learning. YCIS Shanghai Year 7 students created masks based on their exploration of mask traditions.
Children learn to grow as members of the community through arts. Led by artist-in-residence Haruka Ostley, K4 to Year 4 students from YCIS Shanghai have created a huge tapestry work titled "Here Togethers" with unused clothing.
"Growing up in a Japanese family, I often heard my mother and grandmother speak of the word 'Mottainai', meaning things that still have possibilities for a second life." The spirit of Mottainai emphasises respect for nature and handicrafts. "In a material world where everything is readily available, we need to revisit the values of what we have," Haruka said. Children can grasp a more specific perception of the word "frugality" in YCYW’s school motto—diligence, frugality, humility, and faithfulness through this process.
The works of senior students convey a more complex and profound thinking about the world.
Imperfect perfection is an installation work created by Daisy, a Year 11 student from YWIES Zhejiang Tongxiang. Stretch marks, wrinkles, and grey hair witnessed the strength and growth of women, constituting the beauty of women in her eyes.
With this work, they hope to raise the awareness of the need to find a balance between technological progress and harmony with nature. "To live between the present and the future, we need to reconnect with nature."
In TEDx talks, students use their voices to project their aspiration for a better world. So, how can we use the abstract language of art to share ideas and stories about the future in the art world?
Inspired by the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Haruka and Elena lead the children to draw their imaginary future in the art workshop with dots, lines, and shapes.
At TEDx, we are all learners
The science interactive exhibition area located in the long corridor has also collected many interesting ideas and thoughts.
Behind the potted plants brought by Charlies, a Year 6 student from YCIS Shanghai, lies a memory shared by many people. Food shortages were at the forefront of people’s concern during the Shanghai lockdown, leading Charlies to wonder what science could do about it. With the help of his teacher, he completed a project to make plants grow faster by growing them indoors and adding more light.
Using STEM knowledge, the YCIS Shanghai Science Department carefully designed a “crime scene,” which attracted many students to take the challenge.
Each "site" hid vital clues where challengers needed to analyse footprints in the soil, extract DNA, perform DNA gel electrophoresis, and obtain key information to solve the case. "Forensic science is a genuine field, and we hope this is a fun way to help people understand how it works in real life." Ethan and Jaymee, Year 12 students from YCIS Shanghai, were the "forensic examiners" at the scene.
YCYW’s STEM Hackathon is also a "Star Showcase" of TEDx. Biodegradable plastics, a membrane filtration system for clean water, each and every work of the students responds to a goal under the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework.
Taylor Smith, one of YCIS Shanghai Lower Secondary chemistry teachers, is the leader of this year's Hackathon. In her view, "our students are about to go out into the wider world, and when they face real problems, they need diverse skill sets." What the Hackathon program provides is a platform for students to develop their research skills, such as 3D printing, microcomputers, apps, websites... Students are encouraged to explore their interests in every possible form.
According to Dr Christopher Hurley, lead organiser of the TEDx event and head of YCYW Educational Innovation and Alliance, TEDx is "a student-led and driven project" where there are no teachers or students but only young and older learners.
"Teachers create an environment for students to explore freely, allow them to unleash their creativity, encourage them to step forward, learn how to become better facilitators and help them link their resources and transform ideas into reality. In turn, students provide adults with new learning opportunities"
"We spend a lot of time at school talking about values and virtues, like honesty, integrity, empathy, etc., and I think the most critical is about how to apply these in the real world. For example, how do we handle our relationships when we have conflicts? How do we avoid hurting our relationships with each other, and our own emotional states? These important value requirements are not just about individuals. It’s about how we come together and initiate collaborations that make them ubiquitous."
On the TEDx platform, every voice of children deserves to be heard, and every imagination deserves to be seen, for the future will be written by these children. Let’s look forward to the next YCYW TEDx.