x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Tell Us A Story

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
March 22nd, 2014

View photos from the event on Flickr

About this event

TEDxYouth@ACS is the CAS project of Dina Shriem and Dennis Hilgendorf (Class of 2014). CAS stands for Creativity, Action and Service; it is a core component of the two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The idea for a TED-like day of talks came up during the second semester of Grade 11, when clips from TEDTalks videos were screened and discussed in classes such as English Higher Level and Theory of Knowledge.

“TED has been a source of learning throughout my high school career,” says Dina. “It’s been an alternative way for me to understand concepts in our subjects beyond the classroom. I can’t wait for what TEDxYouthACS is going to bring to our community, and I hope it will be a legacy for many years.”

“TED talks present a creative opportunity for one individual to spread an idea, and for the audience to listen and pause for reflection,” adds Dennis. “They encourage us to delve into concepts raised in the classroom by approaching these ideas in different ways. The ACS community is rich with leaders and individuals whose powerful ideas can have a profound impact. TEDxYouthACS is a way to spread these ideas and their positive impact.”

Confirmed Speakers

  • Melissa Dertian
    Originally from Michigan, USA, Ms. Dertian earned a bachelor of arts at Michigan State University and then moved to a warmer climate. She taught theater for nine years in Charleston, South Carolina, and when it proved a bit too cold and too small a town, she turned her attention overseas. Looking at her worldly possessions, she decided to bring her cat, two bicycles, and her entire craft room to the UAE. Ms. Dertian arrived at ACS last August. When she isn’t teaching, riding, or crafting, she likes to fly trapeze, play on the beach, watch movies, work out, and bake.
  • Ashwini Singh
    Born in Durban, South Africa, Ashwini moved to the UAE with her family in 2001. She is a lifelong student whose passions include (but are not limited to): writing, reading manga, watching anime, and playing video games. To her, a story is capable of engaging people with short attention spans while still retaining essence through a theme or two. She also believes that the best stories are the shortest ones that excel in their presentation media. In her spare time, she enjoys reading the works of Haruki Murakami and Motomi Kyousuke. Ashwini is delighted to be featured on TEDxYouth@ACS.
  • Amit Khanna
    A world traveler since childhood, Dr. Khanna grew up in Japan, Germany, India, Cuba and Indonesia. Having sat the IB Biology Higher Level exam years ago at Jakarta International School, he set off for further educational experiences that gave him a lifetime supply of good stories. In 1995, he returned to teach the Bio HL class and coach impromptu speech. Since then he has taught biology and told stories to many students in Yokohama and Abu Dhabi. He believes that we humans tell stories to connect with each other while making sense of our own individual experiences.
  • Amira Al-Subaey
    An American-Saudi, Amira has been an ACS student since the 1st grade, and she takes pride in being a third-culture kid. She is the youngest Saudi woman to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, and she hopes to be the youngest Saudi to reach the peak of Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest, this summer. Amira’s passions include the environment, football, and spending hours at a time watching “How I Met Your Mother.” To her, listening to a story has the power to inspire a person to do great things. This is what she hopes to do in her talk.
  • Valdir Chagas
    Mr. Chagas came to ACS in 2009 from the American School of Rio de Janeiro. He has been teaching French in international schools for over 15 years. Passionate about reading, he developed a love for foreign languages and literature at an early age. He started devouring classical literary works in middle school and became an aficionado of Hugo, Sartre and Verne. Mr. Chagas still reads the classics and has developed an unconditional love for Greek tragedy. His other passion is photography.
  • Matt Foss
    Born and raised in Maine, USA, Mr. Foss was a DJ and radio producer before turning to teaching 18 years ago. Always looking for an adventure, he has taught in the U.S., Ghana, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. His passions include all things athletic, particularly running, baseball, golf, hiking, and mountain biking. He also loves spending time with his Lovely Ladies (wife Micheline and daughter Malise). Being one of six Matts at ACS, Mr. Foss is thinking of using his unique middle name, Amos, to avoid further confusion. For him, a good story can connect individuals to the collective human experience.
  • Anne Russell
    Although she spent the first 21 years of her life in New Jersey, by the time Ms. Russell went to college, family trips had taken her to 48 states and all the provinces in Canada. She then went west to explore the powder of first snows in Steamboat Springs, and she has lived outside the U.S. since she was 30. Her academic interests started in history, migrated to anthropology, and now lie with service learning and sustainability. She believes that encounters with others frame the context of our stories and guide our choices in ways we do not always realize.
  • Julia Grifferty
    Now in her ninth year at ACS, Julia defines her home as the ACS community. Her family is from New York and has lived in Budapest, Hungary; Dakar, Senegal; and Tblisi, Georgia. Having visited over 20 countries, Julia loves traveling and service, and considers her most memorable trip to be the OCEAN Nepal service trip. She also believes that residents of developed countries have the responsibility of living an environmentally sustainable life. She started her Boot the Bottle initiative to call for an end to our dependency on bottled water. Her talk will explain why we should “boot the bottle.”
  • Paul Self
    If humor can be defined as the “juxtaposition of improbables,” then Mr. Self’s life should be uproariously funny, as it is truly improbable. Born to working-class parents in Kentucky, he was sent off to a safe enclave in the mountains to “escape interracial school integration” and preserve his identity. That effort achieved sub-optimal results. His restless, authenticity-seeking personality manifested itself early and often, while still being restrained by a stern ethical internal monitor. After attempts to launch into the unknown failed to “gain escape velocity,” he and his tolerant wife, Lydia, and their two children left the motherland, 21 years and five countries ago. Besides an undying affinity for stories and ideas, Mr. Self retains a strange passion for basketball.
  • Eric Hilgendorf
    As Associate Dean of Primary and Secondary Education Engagement at New York University Abu Dhabi, Dr. Hilgendorf creates innovative programs designed to bridge the K-12 continuum with higher education. His daughter thus coined for him the title of “knowledge architect,” which he thinks is cool, although it has yet to catch on. His written works include research, narrative and screenplay, and his journalistic essay, “Picnic in a Cemetery,” won the runner-up award in the Atlantic Monthly National Writers Contest. This was later turned into a book with the same title, albeit yet to be published. As he explains: “I had to make a choice: publish my dissertation or publish my book. My wife chose the dissertation.” Dr. Hilgendorf is Vice Chairman of the ACS Board of Trustees. When he is not writing or speaking, he may be playing tennis with his wife and his oldest son, doing art with his daughter, or looking under rocks for bugs with his youngest.

Venue and Details

ACS Auditorium
American Community School of Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates
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Event Type (what is this?) Youth

This event occurred in the past.
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Organizer 31856265fc5e8cf602340bdc414d98f9634f0ead_165x165

Lane Graciano
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Dennis Hilgendorf
Curator and executive producer
Dina Shriem
Curator and executive producer
Jorge Padilla
Sarah Daher
Stage manager
Nuno Andrade
Production crew
Diana Nakib
Front of house
Anjali Hopley
Front of house
Kinga Szprengiel
Video and production lead
KuChul Jung
Video crew
Nyx Whatley
Video crew
Koko Balian
Video crew
Ashwini Singh
Video editor