x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Courage

This event occurred on
March 6, 2013
1:00pm - 8:00pm CET
(UTC +1hr)
Luxembourg, Luxembourg (fr), Luxemburg (de)

Session 1

Sylvia Camarda: “Dancing through the dark”

Sylvia is a professional dancer, born to an Italian immigrant family in Luxembourg. She refused to pursue a secure future, a big house, a big car and a solid bank account. Instead, she chose to become a dancer, an artist, and to pursue to road to freedom.
Sylvia pushed herself to the limits and fulfilled her dream. What helped her to achieve that? Courage. It was courage that made her strong enough to get over hard work, loneliness and to fight for her passion, her only love and her language – dance. Courage is the first human quality and if you lose it, you lose it all.

Poorai Desai: “One Planet Living”

Cambridge and Oxford alumnus and co-founder of BioRegional invited the audience to think about reinventing the future. Desai maintains that by understanding our lifestyles and applying ecological thinking in our lives, we can contribute to saving the planet and to improving the quality of our lives. Reducing environmental impact and de-risking the future is the strategy.
Poorai believes that being driven by science and out-of-the-box thinking will help people to reinvent the future.
Mankind needs the courage to reinvent the future.
Courage is embedded into man’s inner nature

Erica Monfardini: “Writing the courage manual”

Life makes you courageous, Erica says. She has been exploring the nature of courage, and has found out that courage might be influenced by many circumstances such as one’s place of birth, for example, as demonstrated through the Global Creativity Index.
To get more answers, Erica ran a small survey on courage amongst her social circle. She identified those of her friends and acquaintances, who had all overcome major difficulties and challenges in their lives. Erica then tried to understand what influences they had, which helped these people develop their characters. Erica believes that courage is an intangible asset they all possess, and one that is hard to deconstruct. As Aristotle put it, courage is embedded into man’s inner nature but also an executive virtue and a will.

Sven Clement: “From being ridiculed to having a shot at change”

Sven is a modern Pirate. In 2009, he formed the youngest political party in Luxembourg – the Pirate Party. He talks about the difficulties of creating something new and finding the strength to do that, when you do not get much support. Being courageous means to step forwards and make a change, Sven says. Optimism, believing in yourself and action is what you need to make a change. Sven’s motto is “If you don’t try it, it will never happen.”

On Life Coaching and Innovative Education

Cecile Devroye: “Dare to change”

Cecile was inspired by the book “The Celestine Prophecy” to make a change in her life, and to take up a new career path. She realized that doing what you are really meant for is essential. Cecile quit her job and – without financial security, social security or a supportive partner beside her – started a new life as a life coach. She finally focused on what she really wanted.

It is actually a story with a very happy end. Cecile conquered fear and uncertainty. At present, she has a job that she loves, and is making exciting plans for the future. One of them is to help other people to understand their passions. Cecile thinks that following your heart and developing acute self-awareness is the key to a happy life and self-realization. Cecile invites you to find a new and more genuine life-story to relate to, and to eventually share.

Marc Teusch: “Maker-spaces: The future of education”

Teaching children to be creative can help them to succeed in building bridges to a successful professional career and bright future, says Mark. He talks about bringing back creativity into the educational curriculum, and about teaching kids to be doers and makers. Marc is a passionate teacher, who believes his mission is to enable children to be creative, rather than afraid of failure. Learning by doing is imperative for educating our kids effectively for an uncertain and exciting future.

On Courage as Being Yourself

Troy Bankhead: “Mr Invisible”

Being surrounded by the creativity of others is inspiring but stressful, and so is confronting external expectations and fearing judgment and potential mistakes. As a matter of fact, these very anxieties can lead to actual failure and isolation.

Troy encourages us to “stop stopping ourselves,” and – instead – to go beyond our comfort zones to discover our own intrinsic value. Troy considers it a manifestation of great courage to believe in ourselves, to dare to share our ideas and to embrace our own value. Such courage empowers us to become creators, and to be outstanding in whatever we do.

Kevin Haas: “Le battement d’aile de papillon”

Kevin Haas is a multiple Muay Thai champion, a combat martial art from Thailand. He believes that you have to face your fear in order to succeed, which teaches you courage and brings happiness.

Session 2

Jennifer Rawlings: “The courage to forgive”

Jennifer Rawlings is L.A.-based writer, comic, filmmaker, and kick-ass mom. Her versatile interest and talents have taken her to all corners of the world. She touched the lives of many soldiers on the ground, even if for a second with a laugh or a smile, and she was equally changed by the experience.

Jennifer shared three poignant stories with the audience – about a 19-year-old disfigured soldier in Afghanistan; a Bosnian mother whose son died nine years after the Bosnian war was over, when a grenade exploded in the hands of his schoolmate in a supposedly landmine-free area, and about a woman from Darfur and her hope for a better post-war life.

Jennifer passionately talked about the type of courage derived not from our strength, but from the vulnerability; about the courage to forgive and to move on, rather than continue carrying hatred in one’s heart, after a traumatic experience.

Jennifer urged the audience to not remain passive at the sight of a conflict-ridden world, but to dare to change the world one story, one conversation and one person at a time.

Françoise Hontoy: “Just do it - change your fears”

Françoise considers herself as an enabler. She wants to see other people achieve their goals. What is holding us back and what makes us move forward, she asks. To take action, we need courage, and one often suggested solution is to wipe fear away. Françoise maintains we should know what we fear, before we can wipe it away or overcome it.

Between courage and fear, it is the fear that comes first, as a deep-rooted human reaction. In a dangerous situation, before the adrenaline rushes in, we freeze to decide if we run or fight. Fears can protect us, and we deal with them all the time, from toddlers to adults.

And when the adrenaline rush is not enough, Just Do it, Francoise suggests. Take inspiration from toddlers, who continuously try and fail until they succeed.

Instead of trying to recover from failures independently, understand the environment, the facts and all things which are relevant. To overcome the feeling of being “stuck”, ask yourself “What do I fear?”. Knowing and understanding your fears gives you the freedom to Just Do It.

Stephan Kinsch: “Why your inner clown's the better leader”

Stephan – whose objectives throughout his life included becoming a great leader, manager, boss, coach, father, husband, friend, musician, trainer and artist – light-heartedly shared an inspiring story how he discovered his “inner clown”.

Stephan talked about his traumatic and challenging first encounter with a “real” clown at a clown workshop, where he had to start learning how to express his feelings. Gradually, Stephan – who at the beginning of his talk light-heartedly labeled himself an “arrogant, selfish and possessive person” – learned to become more respectful, collaborative and tolerant, and “give the clown some place in my life”.

Stephan then went ahead to share a few tips we can all learn from:

Humor is when you are happy because others laugh because of you
Bosses who can laugh at themselves are more trustful
The Clown is an opponent to the system – you can ban him or listen to the truth he will tell you
Experience has taught Stephan that – in order to become a great leader, manager, boss and all other roles in life one wishes to fulfill – he needs to listen to his clown.

Katy Fox: “Courage and Connection”

Social anthropologist Katy Fox talked about connection as a key condition of life, and about the world as a deep interconnected place and one that exists due to the quality of relationships that shape it.

Katy shared a moving story about her time as a doctoral researcher exploring the impacts of EU agricultural policy on the lives of subsistence farmers in Romania, where she experienced moments of deep connection with members of the local communities she was visiting. She also talked about founding the Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg (CELL), which intends to make the world a more resilient place, by redesigning our landscapes through ecological design.

Katy believes the way, in which we can counteract the tendency toward disconnection, is through practicing – in our everyday gestures – small acts of courage, which are fundamentally acts of connection. And such moments of connection only come when we acknowledge vulnerability and interdependence.

If we think in such terms about the world, we can come much closer to having a healing relationship with the people around us, and with the world.

Jean-Claude Schlim: “Staying alive with AIDS”

Luxembourgish film-producer Jean-Claude Schlim considers his critically acclaimed film “House of Boys” as a contribution to talking about HIV/AIDS, which is still related to tremendous taboos, especially with regard to the perception of people living with HIV.

Beyond a well-informed account of the history of AIDS, Jean-Claude talked about a disturbing statistic – that some European countries are experiencing the highest infection rates since the arrival of AIDS three decades ago. In this context, Jean-Claude – a survivor himself who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989 – considers it his artistic duty to awaken a most urgent consciousness within disengaged younger generations, and to provide them with the painful but necessary historic background about HIV/AIDS.

Jean-Claude’s open, honest and moving account about his life with AIDS finished with a courageous quote by Rock Hudson:

I am not hapy that I am sick.
I am not happy that I have AIDS.
But if that is helping others,
I can at least know that my misfortune
Has had some positive worth.

…and brought the audience to a long ovation…

Marie Müller: “Moving to Victory street”

Marie’s story is incredible, to say the least. After closely missing the historic change of winning a bronze medal for Luxembourg at the 2012 Summer Olympics, after the nerve-wracking decision-making process by the jury, Marie had to deal with how much that hurt, while she had been consistently trained as a sportswoman to “never show weakness”.

Marie walked the audience through a complicated journey in the Olympics’ aftermath: she felt like the loneliest person in the world when she learned about the jury’s decision. She still cannot watch the fights or see the pictures. Her first reaction was to show strength in facing the defeat, and be okay in front of her family and friends who were so sad. She could not cry in front of her loved ones, or show how broke and still she was inside.

One needn’t have competed in the Olympics to empathize with how challenging this must have been for Marie. On the bright side, she has just moved to Victory Street (rue de la Victoire), and is changing the feelings from losing something big into motivation to try reach my new dream – an Olympics medal.

Jasper Bergink: “For a state of happiness”

Jasper led the audience through a number of shrewd questions to lead us to question whether economic growth, gross domestic product and obsession with productivity can indeed be sufficient and adequate measures, which would bring us to a state of happiness.

Not really, according to Jasper, who maintains that such measures “capture very little of what makes life worth it”. Instead, he talked about Gross National Happiness – the main concept informing all policy decisions in Bhutan, which boldly attempts to get closer to “measure what is truly worthwhile,” including positive emotions and hours of sleep, to mention a few components.

Jasper called the audience to choose to go down “Happy Road,” to enjoy the current moment, to appreciate what we have and to focus on what matters. Only then we can turn our state into a state of happiness.

Brian Mengwasser (the last one): “Our energy lifeline from the stars”

Brian took the audience through an inspiring and challenging proposition – to look to the stars to generate sustainable energy for our future, and to harness the sun directly and continuously, straight into space, and beam it down to the Earth’s surface.

Brain started by positing the reality of climate change is no longer a question. Rather, we should ask ourselves about the impacts. We must overcome our collective denial, and to acknowledge that climate change cannot be solved via conventional means. We must also acknowledge that we cannot generate all of our energy sustainably at present, or keep up with the increasing pace of energy demand powered by global demographics and a technological glut.

Brian pleaded for courage at all levels to reach to the starts to power our future, and to create a legacy we can be proud of.

Text by Ema Kazlauskaite and Snezhina Kovacheva.

Musical performances by The Fox, Deborah Lehnen and Mambo Schinki.

3 Park Drai Eechelen
Luxembourg, Luxembourg (fr), Luxemburg (de), 1499
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Organizing team


Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Vincent Ruck
    Progamming Assistant
  • Magali Larese-Capo
    Production Manager
  • Pedro Castilho
    Public Speaking Coach
  • Thomas Schoos
    Storytelling Coach
  • Francis Gasparotto
    Sponsoring Manager
  • Pierre Ahlborn
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Manuel Baldauff
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Patrick Ernzer
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Geraldine Knudson
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Enrico Lunghi
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Laurent Probst
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Gilles Schlesser
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Daniel Schneider
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Prof. Dr. Rolf Tarrach
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Lisi Teisen
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • François Thiry
    Member of the Advisory Board
  • Georges Zigrand
    Member of the Advisory Board