TEDxMFZU Report

On 19 September 2010, Ideas • Impact • China, the first TEDxMFZU event was held in the Science Park of Zhejiang University. This event, hosted by the Melton Foundation and Zhejiang University (MFZU), had eight speeches, five performances and a reception. China is having a growing influence over the world, so ideas that impact China will impact the world; TEDxMFZU explored some of these ideas. The audience consisted mostly of university students from Chile, China, India, Germany and the US.

Opening Drums

TEDxMFZU began with the energetic drumbeats performance of the Zhejiang University Wenqin Art Troupe. Jiahui Huang, the host, made a brief introduction about TED, TEDx and MFZU. A video from TED was played to introduce TEDx.

During Session 1, four speakers, Calvin Chen, Xi Cao, Garrison Lu and Haiming Yan shared their own “Chinese stories”.

Xi CaoAs an American-born-Chinese and a third generation immigrant, Calvin Chin, co-founder and CEO of Qifang, China’s leading online student loan service, told three stories respectively of his two grandfathers who emigrated from China to the United States and himself who has come back to China from the United States. Calvin raised the question of “where home is” for different generations of immigrants and by narrating his own family history he was able to offer a broader picture of the changing world and the developing China.

Xi Cao, a drama teacher and researcher, shared his experiences of teachingchildren through the medium of drama. During his speech, he said, “The world is full of symbols. The clock is just a machine. The newspaper is just a piece of paper. They are all symbols of something…” Xi reminds us that life is nothing but to play with symbols, so play is our nature. And theatre provides us the opportunity to play.

Garrison Lu, the co-founder and CEO of Raleigh China, told his story of expedition with Raleigh workers. In his talk, he introduced Raleigh and spoke about how Raleigh inspires young generations – you always can be creative and make something totally different! Through an encouraging Raleigh project movie, he expressed the core values of Raleigh, which are: ‘real education is to experience rather than to be told’ and ‘each young person is a lovely, beautiful individual with great potential given the right chances’.

With irony and humor, Haiming Yan reflected on his research of China’s 40 World Heritage sites and concluded that Chinese undervalue their own cultural heritage. Instead of only accepting western culture, they must “Chinese” the West through a more strategic telling of China’s story.

Between the speeches, two different animation works, ‘Kongfu Bunny’ by Zhiyong Li and ‘Let Me Say’ were shown; The first session ended with applause and laughter.

After a half hour break, Session 2 began, with Italian artiste Andrea Benedet’s performance, Mask. This session too had four speakers.

Xuhui Shao, Chief Technology Officer at Turn, showed the audience about data-driven thinking. “How do human beings survive in this high-technology, data-driven world?” Xuhui Shao gave us the answer. The data-driven world requires us to learn the secret of data-driven thinking to make the best decisions or for something even more crucial: survival. Always use the best data with the least bias, learn to love uncertainty and be free to construct your hypotheses.

Carol Chyau, co-founder of Shokay, introduced the term ‘social entrepreneur’ and told her stories of being a social entrepreneur in her own company. She shared her extraordinary experience of coming up with the idea of starting a business with Yak fabrics and how this has a deep meaning: in helping the poor, she was realizing her own dream. Starting off from a simple formula in economics, Carol explained her own understanding of philanthropy and that social entrepreneurship could be the one efficient solution to help the others and to solve wealth inequality in this world.

Carol ChyauThen we had a fabulous sand painting video specially made for TEDxMFZU by sand animator, Junjie Yan. With Michael Jackson’s Heal the World as the background score, he showed us visualizations of trees, planets, river around mountain and so on by laying and drawing on small grains of sand. He also showed images of Shanghai Expo, symbols for love, hope and care, and finally a slogan “We are the world. MFZU” with his fine technique in sand painting.

Following that Yan Yang talked about her animation works with Jiahui and showed two of her works. Yan is a famous animator whose works have been introduced by China’s national TV to millions of people; her animations are short but very impressive. Filled with many flavors of Chinese traditional culture, her works are mixed with red colors and elements of Chinese ballad. In her interview she talked about where her inspiration came from and how she understands animations.

As a researcher in face perception, Johanna Stahl shared her findings about human faces and the own-race bias in recognizing them. She gave us a very interesting speech about the secret of faces. She began with a challenging test in face recognition and soon captured our attention. The experiences and the environment we are living in affect our ability to recognize faces. She was recently awarded a PhD for her work in this field.

Last but not the least, Marjorie Garcés, a Chilean singer, dancer and one of the Melton Fellows, sang two songs of her own. Positive Changes, one of the songs in her album, was about her reflections as a Melton Fellow. She also talked about how music would influence our mood and thoughts, which gave the audience joy, and a sense of completion to the events of the afternoon.

The Reception part was from 6:30 to 8:00pm. The speakers, the performers and the audience gathered at the dining hall. They also had the opportunity to go to different exhibit rooms for works from Digital Media, Industrial Design, and The Chongqing Independent Film and Video Festival (CIFVF).
Reception
TEDxMFZU ended at 8:00pm leaving behind a host of admirers and enlightened people, craving for more learning and enrichment!

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