My Shift: A TEDxSFU Story

By Renée McMillen

My first look at a TED talk was through my older brother. To this day he is always in the know with technology and is constantly engaged in current events. Fast forward 10 years and I still remember the exact TED talk; Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson. As an introduction to TED, it engaged me like no other lecture, speaker series, stage performance or documentary had. This is because TED talks are unique. They open our eyes to new ideas and connect us to speakers we otherwise would have had no opportunity to hear from. This experience also showed me how communities around the globe were interested to learn from others in an array of topics, and this alone had me hooked.

It never occurred to me that I would get an opportunity to get involved with TED; however, it was only in January that I learned the university holds their very own TEDx conference every year. Not only have I had the opportunity to meet passionate, like-minded and driven SFU students and alumni, but I have also had the privilege to work with them to shape this year’s conference. TEDx, for those that don’t know the difference, are independent TED-like events organized by volunteers from their local communities. Their goal is to spark deep conversation, build connection and community and, like TED, were created with the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.”

In February, the directors sat down for the first of many Sunday evenings together to decide on a theme. Like many who spoke on the stage of TEDx and TED talks before us, we all had an opportunity to contribute ideas of our own. We had to ask ourselves, what did we want to say? From the beginning, shift was a strong contender. The concept was open to interpretation and made us think about what it meant to us individually. Our hope is that shift will reflect the vision of SFU and resonate with our audience like it has with us.

To me, TED means so much more than a series of videos by some big names on obscure topics. It’s that innovative concept that brings together everyday people to speak and listen about topics that otherwise might not come up. It’s a world stage where necessary conversations are shared communally.

As a creative student, I felt misunderstood by my teachers, experienced frustration with lower grades in left-minded, academic studies and it was the arts that engaged me most. It resonated with me to hear someone value creativity academically. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk still impacts my life today, a decade after seeing his performance. If you’ve never experienced a TEDx event, TEDxSFU is the perfect opportunity to do so. Join us, and experience the same shift within you as I did listening to Sir Ken Robinson.

H2.O Lab: A Hands-On Experience with Vancouver’s Seashore Life


Earlier this summer, 60 individuals joined us for our pre-conference event - the H2.O Lab. In partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium, attendees were immersed in a hands-on, interactive environment to learn more about the marine invertebrates in our oceans. From crabs, to sea anemones, jellies, sea stars, and sea urchins, the H2.O Lab taught us about our local seashore life and the importance of ocean conservation.
Visit our Facebook page to view more photos.

Volunteers of SFU (Simon Fraser University) - Melissa Ong, TEDxSFU

By SFU Volunteer Services

This is my second year volunteering at TEDxSFU, and I’m currently one of two Project Leads for the 2017 conference. My role is essentially as a project manager - ensuring the planning of the conference is on schedule and making sure that everything comes together by November 12th, the date of the conference.

There have been so many memorable moments along the way, but based on my previous role as Director of Content Development, seeing the speakers deliver their talks onstage is probably the most rewarding. Last year, one of our speakers faced some challenges while preparing for the conference – they had never delivered a talk to an audience of that size before, so understandably, they were nervous. The conference came around, and that speaker got onstage and just delivered. It was amazing to witness all those months of hard work and effort materialize into a seamless 15-minute talk; we ended up getting a lot of feedback that he was an audience favourite!

Most of my volunteer experiences have required me to deal with other students, but TEDxSFU has given me the opportunity to also work closely with thought leaders in our community – people in the industry, working professionals. Also, planning such a large event has been a relatively new experience for me, thanks to TEDxSFU. I really don’t think you can verbalize how it feels to see nine months of planning come to fruition – it’s an incredible feeling.

November 12, 2017

Granville Island Stage

1585 Johnston St, Vancouver

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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