Sophomore Solomon Kim reflects on the student-organized and run TEDxYouth@ASIJ event at Meiji Kinenkan.

On May 24, 2018, a small group of students assisted by ASIJ faculty hosted the TEDxYouth@ASIJ event, which was dedicated to exploring the theme “Students Make an Impact.” TEDx is a program of the TED conference which allows self-organized events dedicated to the discussion of ideas worth spreading, and TEDxYouth events are organized by and for youth, especially students like our team. From preparing the speakers to organizing the AV and livestream, to helping the guests check in, to creating the program for the event, students were intimately involved in all areas of the event’s organization.

I became involved in this project through the ASIJ IMPACT program, a self-directed learning program dedicated to helping students achieve their true potential through independent projects. The speakers were all members of the IMPACT program, and their topics were diverse: our six speakers shared their experiences with raising awareness for human trafficking, helping Japanese children about to leave foster homes, giving children the opportunity for an education through intersectional feminism and creating a fashion brand for the youth of Tokyo. They posed a unique challenge, as we were tasked with preparing them for their talks, including rehearsals, script editing and more–all during the busiest time of year with finals and AP exams rapidly approaching. But, the speakers came through and the event was extremely successful.

But the challenges didn’t end there—the speakers were just the beginning. My team also tackled the AV aspect of the event, like running the livestream, recording the event and operating the microphones and the lights—and this required close communication with the Meiji Kinenkan venue team. Our student team also handled stage design, the TEDx sign and the guest registration with the assistance of faculty and the Advancement Office—all of which required significant collaboration with the speakers, venue staff and ASIJ faculty. As the organizer, I also had to create the overall plan for the night, including scheduling, team management and pre-event planning, which was an experience that I will not forget.

Through this experience, we learned the importance of clear communication, teamwork and flexibility. When unexpected changes or setbacks occurred, we had to get back up and keep working—especially as the event grew closer and closer. We juggled all of our responsibilities, including AP classes, final exams and other extracurricular projects and sports, and at the same time do our best to make the TEDx experience the best possible for our guests—and I believe that we succeeded. Our speakers sparked insightful discussions about the ASIJ community and how we can reach out to others around us, and in the process, helped us all to learn about the potential of students, and their ideas worth spreading.