TEDxJacksonville changed my life.A letter from Maxwell, Catalyst Ticket Recipient, TEDxJacksonville 2014
I remember the first TED talk I ever watched. My teacher shared it in psychology class. My classmates all thought it was pretty cool, but I thought it was awesome. I was hooked. That day, I went home and watched TED videos for hours, thinking to myself, “One day that will be you. You’ll be in that audience.”About a year later, I came to class one day and my teacher had the familiar website up on the screen. One thing in particular stood out, though. It read “APPLY TO ATTEND TEDxJACKSONVILLE.” Jacksonville? That’s where I live! I was beyond excited. It was a dream come true, until reality set in. Tickets cost $100, far more than my high school self could afford. Of course, I applied anyway, thinking that I would scrounge up the cash somehow. Nothing could stand between me and TED.A couple weeks later, I got that familiar “ping” of a new email. My friend Riley, who was sitting next to me, her phone “pinged,” too. We were in! We were both going to TEDxJacksonville! Even better, we both had scholarships! This was real.TEDx day arrived. I was there with myself, my teacher, three of my classmates and many new friends to be made. I learned so much that day, about myself, my world and my people. But, I learned something that’s even better; I learned to unknow everything else. I let go of the myriad preconceived notions and misconceptions I had about a variety of topics including politics, gender, disability, computers, medicine and more.The new insights I gained at TEDx have allowed me to become not only a better student, but also a better person. By learning to see things from different perspectives, I can be a better citizen of the world, and I’m putting that skill to good use! Next year, while all of my friends go off to college, I will be studying abroad as an exchange student in Chile. To do so, I must unknow everything familiar in this life to go find a new one in South America, and TEDxJacksonville has given me the skills to do that.Thank you, TEDxJacksonville and the Delores Barr Weaver Foundation for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. I am forever grateful.