Peer Mediators link SPHS and community in TEDx salon, ‘Connection and Communication’

Written by Rachel Lu
News Editor

Photos by Helena Fu
Staff Photographer

The SPHS school and community engaged on the themes of ‘Connection and Communication’ during the SPHS Peer Mediators’ second TEDx event Saturday, December 9. The salon highlighted student speeches from Amanda Estevez, Ben Elbaum, and Archer Willems, transforming the SPHS library into a discussion forum on their respective talks.

TEDx –– coordinated by the Peer Mediators and committee head senior Candace Louie –– aimed to open conversations about its themes with experiential talks, similar to its TED-organized counterpart. Each of the SPHS Mediators facilitated small group discussions in reaction to topics explored throughout the presentations.

“After planning the first salon, we knew what needed to be adjusted. [This time], we got a lot of community member[s] and [were] pleased to hear all the interesting dialogue about communication,” Louie said. “I was really happy with the outcome. People were genuinely interested in this event and how they can become more open to connecting to others.”

Senior Ben Elbaum opened the event dialogue with his talk on redefining prayer and the stigma surrounding religious conversation.

Elbaum’s speech offered insight into his own experience with Judaism and the stigmatized reaction he received when opening up the conversation about religion. The senior also spoke about redefining prayer, focusing on certain rituals or routines.


‘Connection and Communication’ continued into senior Archer Willems’ experience with Asperger syndrome and the “Transformative Power of Falseness” in modern platforms of social media.

“It’s a bit exposing to talk about [Asperger syndrome], but it feels like the kind of thing that is worth that risk to share, to share an something that most people aren’t willing to talk about.”
Junior Amanda Estevez capped off the presentations with her exploration of“High Maintenance,” urging the audience to be open about their neediness.

Estevez drew upon her Latin culture as the background for her “need for closeness to people.” She suggested the audience be forward with their own needs with their loved ones as well.

The Mediators also exhibited videos from previous TED events, including “Take ‘the Other’ to lunch” and “The mothers who found forgiveness, friendship,” surrounding the bond between the mother of a 9/11 victim and perpetrator. Audience members concluded the event with personal reflections on the day’s talks and personal discussions.

“I loved working with the Peer Mediators; everyone was just so genuinely kind, and I felt such a welcoming community,” Estevez said. “It was such a fulfilling way to put my message out there and become more comfortable with myself.”

The next TEDx Salon, titled ‘Embracing and Breaking Stereotypes’ will be in the SPHS Library Saturday, February 24th.


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