The Fluidity of Change

Friday, November 06, 2015 -

Last Saturday Brentwood students exchanged their number one uniforms for smart casual attire, ditched the textbooks, and attended Brentwood’s second annual TEDx. Last year Brentwood joined the ranks of schools, organizations, and communities around the world in adopting TEDx (x stands for independent TED event) and hosted the first ever TEDx Brentwood. Last year the TEDx event conflicted with many students’ schedules. Mr. Ian McPherson who organised the TEDx event, said, “We are victims of our own success as we ran a great event last year and we had such a talented lineup this year we had to turn away many parents and members of the community so that our main audience, our students, had priority.  The talks will be posted to YouTube as they were last year, and if Garey Gan’s ‘14 talk is any indication (it had over 8000 views) we should see a sizeable online audience!” In this year's talks, themed ‘Fluid, Adapting to Change’, students were exposed to stories of everything from feminism, to extreme sports, to environmental conservation, and were left with ideas and aspirations they had not entered the auditorium with.

TEDx is meant to be a way of sparking conversation and dialogue about a diverse range of topics that resonate with a community, in this case with Brentwood, its students, staff, parents and alumni. It is a way for us to bring great speakers to the School and to give students the opportunity to present as well. At the end of the day, it’s about getting us talking, and thinking, and pausing for meaningful dialogue on topics we may never have considered before.

When I asked Mr. McPherson what he wanted to accomplish with this event, he responded with saying, “For me the ideal outcome is that every student takes away something personal from the event. Whether a desire to present themselves or witness even one talk that resonated with them to such an extent that it opened their thinking to new ideas and new opportunities. It is about mixing it up, getting us talking and sharing ideas and collaborating. It is not about lecturing.”

The event was split into three sections each with 20 minute breaks in between so students could discuss the insightful talks that had been presented as well as making good use of the TEDx photobooth. The first speaker of the event was Brentwood alumnus Dr. Ryan D’Arcy ‘90, a professor and leadership chair in Medical Technologies at SFU (that's Simon Fraser University for all you non-Canadians) and Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, as well as being the Head of Health Science and Innovations at Fraser Health’s Memorial Hospital. Dr. D’Arcy gave an enlightening speech titled “Changing Brains, Changing Minds” that discussed the advancements Canadian medicine has made in neuroscience technology. Dr. D’Arcy discussed the creation of neurosurgery simulators that were designed for each individual patient, and how this invention greatly reduces the risk factors of performing brain surgery. He also examined the recording of brain waves, essentially making a vital sign of brain waves so doctors could determine whether or not comatose patients still had processing capabilities.

The second speaker of the first third was Caitlin W. ‘16, a Brentwood student in Grade 12. Caitlin’s speech, titled “The Problem with the F Word”, discussed the issues of modern feminism and specifically the disrespect and lack of it. Caitlin brought humour to her speech making it enjoyable for all while still pushing the world’s need for equality for all. She finished her inspirational speech with stating that the problem with the F-word is that it isn't used enough.

The third speech was titled ‘Tapping into the Processing Powers of the Brain’ and was given by alumnus Doug MacLaren ‘86, partner and Head of the Motion Picture Library Department at International Creative Management who also has a passionate love of extreme sports. Mr. MacLaren discussed how by fully engaging yourself physically and mentally (as is often the case with extreme sports and apparently music as well) we could feel like we are a small pinprick in the world and yet infinitely exist.

The final speaker of the first third of the event was alumna Lauren Selman ‘03 a jack of all trades who talked about how her curiosity not only helped her become successful but helped her change the world and make a difference in her speech titled “Navigating through a Changing World; Curiosity is my Compass”.

In the second third of the TEDx event, students heard from John Helliwell, a senior fellow of the Canadian institute for Advanced Research and a professor emeritus in the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. Mr. Helliwell shared his speech titled “Using Happiness Research to Better Understand and Adapt in a Changing World”. He shared with students the six things that determined someone's happiness; income, health and life expectancy, opportunities and freedom, having someone to count on, trust, and giving.

We then heard from another fellow Brentwood student, Mohammad K. ‘16 about the beauty of induced pluripotent stem cells and its benefits in the scientific field. Next students got surprise when a Grad from 2014, Lindsay Bell-Etkin, gave her speech titled “Choose Happiness”. Lindsay gave a moving speech about her gap year and how she spent it volunteering at a refugee camp in Munich, Germany. She talked about the lives of the refugees and the pure happiness at being in a country where they felt safe and cared for.

The last speaker of the second section was Therese Hayes, a Senior VP in Marketing and Communication at Luvo, who talked about how change can lead to stress and having what she called strong core values - when approaching a new situation - can decrease the stress in her speech “The Upshot of Change: from Scientist to Spin Doctor in 90 Seconds”.

With the TEDx event coming to a close, Brentwood was awed and humbled when current Brentwood parent Silken Lauman, a four time Olympian shared her story of struggle and achievement. Her raw telling of her valleys and peaks made the audience realise the capacity of strength and resolve we each contained. Following Silken’s speech, another Brentwood student made his, filling the auditorium with many laughs and a few “Oh No’s” from his friend Xander. Andrew W’s ‘17 speech “Joke’s On Us” described the importance of humor to keep us humble, allow us to address sensitive topics without insult, and receiving insight into the people around us. Andrew proved with his speech that a common nightmare we all have was Andrew loosing his ingenious humour.

Brentwood’s second TEDx event closed with the day’s final speaker giving an inspiring talk abou the need to protect and conserve B.C.’s coast, in particular the Great Bear Rainforest. Ian McAlister, founder of Pacific Wild and an award-winning photographer shared with Brentwood the importance of protecting B.C.’s coast, in particular it’s keystone species, the wolf.

With the TEDx event drawn to a close, students left the theater with minds buzzing with possibilities and ideas presented in these inspiring talks. Mr. Patel’s remarks on the event really do sum up the experience: “Our second annual TEDx Brentwood built on last year’s success and elevated the experience to another level. After only having a 100 seat license in 2014, I was so pleased that the entire school could attend this year. Attending such an intellectually stimulating conference is usually reserved for adults. Like with all of our activities, Brentwood students come first and I’m so pleased they were able to take part in this memorable event. My thanks to everyone involved – particularly, Mr. McPherson.”

Caitlin C, Hope ‘17

Talks are available for viewing at:



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