Sharing Valuable Ideas Widely – Interview with TEDxICU Executives who are Developing Activism through TED Talks | Part 1

ICONfront interview article vol.24 part1 features Karen Kojima, Rinka Asakura, and Yuka Yamazaki, executives of TEDxICU, which holds the TED Talks events at ICU that ICU students have seen at least once.

In the interview article Part1, they talked about their activities, organization structure, and how they came to be a member.

Please read on to learn more about their full-fledged activities, which include clients liaison, as well as the organization of the group:)

Q1. Could you tell us about your activities?

 We are working to organize speech events in pursuit of TED’s vision of “Ideas worth spreading” In FY2021, we have been working with the vision of creating three “places”: a place where ideas can be expressed, a place where people can be inspired, and a place where new actions can be initiated. Although we are currently in the process of reviewing our vision, TEDxICU will continue to provide an open community for everyone, including ICU students, faculty, and community members. Our hope is that the insights gained through the event will spread beyond the boundaries of the organization and lead to further discoveries.

Q2. What does the “x” in TEDxICU mean?

Miss. Kojima The “x” is not a mathematical “x” as in multiply, but rather an “x” for an independently organized event, as opposed to the original TED Talks organization.

Q3. Could you tell us more specifically about your activities?

 We sponsor a huge speech event once a year.  The main event, held online in FY2021, featured five speakers and one group performance, and it was viewed by approximately 200 people.

 ________ Is there a reason why you hold the event as infrequently as once a year?

Miss. Asakura  In order to host a TEDx event, we must be licensed by TED’s major organization. This large-scale regular event is basically set once a year, and we follow this format. In creating a speech for the event, the process from writing to presentation takes as long as 6 or 7 months, so a quality speech will take almost a year to create. In addition, we would like to hold smaller events in the future to provide more opportunities for participants to dialogue in a more flat manner to accompany this process.

 ______ What criteria do you use to select speakers?

Miss. Yamazaki  This is an area that will be reworked, but for last year, we selected speeches based on what TEDxICU members thought would encourage the audience, in addition to the rules and regulations given by TED headquarters.

Q4. How is TEDxICU organized?

TEDxICU is managed by three teams* and the executives who oversee them.

*Speakers Team: The main task of this team is to gather speakers according to the event theme and work with the speakers to create their speeches until the day of the event.

 Sponsor Team: The Sponsor Team is in charge of liaising with companies to raise the necessary funds to hold a TEDx event, and managing the organization’s finances.

 PR Design Team: The PR Design Team is responsible for recruiting members and publicizing the event mainly through SNS, as well as designing the logo and editing the video.

   ______ Why did you decide to make such a teaming arrangement?

Miss. Yamazaki I was inspired by the existence of organizations like TEDxICU across the country. For starting the organization, we first identified the tasks required to organize an event and then decided to divide the group into teams in order to make these tasks work well.

 ___How do you divide the roles on the day of the event?

On the day of the event, members are moved regardless of the teams. On the recording day, the PR team recorded videos, took pictures for posting on SNS, and the speaker team supported the speakers. The sponsor team prepared for disinfection and the waiting rooms for speakers.

 ___How many companies do you publicize to carry out the event, and how many companies do actually fund you?

Miss. Asakura 2021 is the year of the relaunch, it cost a lot of money/budget to create a logo which is placed on the stage, but it usually costs about 150,000 to 200,000 yen to hold an event. This year, we made appointments to about 40 companies by email, but it depended on them if we got a reply or not. When we received a reply, we explained the content of our activity through zoom and had them approved. As a result, three companies and one organization sponsored TEDxICU last year. After the event, we make a report and send it to the sponsors in an effort to build a relationship of trust.

Q5. When did you start your activity?

 TEDxICU restarted in April 2021. An organization called TEDxICU used to exist as an ICU circle, but its activities were suspended for various reasons. Then, Kojima, Asakura, and Yamazaki, who were interested in TEDxICU, started by investigating the basic information for running a TEDx organization and recruited initial members. From October 2021, we started full-scale activities with new members.

Q6. Please tell us what made you decide to start TEDxICU.

Miss. Kojima I belonged to TEDxYouth@Tokyo (an organization that organizes TEDx events by high school students) for three years in high school. I enjoyed the activities and I intended to continue them at university. However, TEDxICU has been inactive for several years. Although I got frustrated because I couldn’t have fulfilling days at university due to covid19, I cherished my eager feelings”and took action. I decided to restart the activities of TEDxICU with Rika and Yuka. I was sure that TEDxICU would be a meaningful community because there are many students at ICU who have “worth spreading” ideas, opinions, and stories, but have never had the opportunity to share them in their own words as speeches. I was confident that TEDxICU would be a meaningful community.

 ___What are the differences between TEDxYouth@Tokyo and TEDxICU?

Miss. Kojima TEDxYouth@Tokyo is almost the same as TEDxICU. I was also involved in the management of the TEDx events as I am now. If I must say, while TEDxYouth@Tokyo is composed of high school students from various schools, TEDxICU is organized only by ICU students, and I feel that there are colors and appeals that only ICU students can create. ICU values liberal arts education, critical thinking, and discussions, and there are many students and teachers who are interested in them. Therefore, TEDxICU has a great appeal that other organizations don’t have, especially in terms of thinking critically about something, sharing various ideas with various people, and interacting with each other.

Miss. Asakura I had an acquaintance who belonged to TEDxYouth@Tokyo when I was a high school student, and I was longing for her because it seemed very fulfilling. Therefore, I decided to join TEDxICU after entering ICU. However, as it turns out, TEDxICU was inactive and I gave it up when I was a freshman. In April 2021, the other two were talking about the restart of TEDxICU and decided to get involved in it. I thought TED, which “spreads” everyone’s “idea,” has great significance because ICU has many people who are engaged in a variety of activities.

 ___Have you known each other before you started this activity?

Miss Asakura I and Yuka had been working together for a year in service-learning when we were freshmen. I didn’t talk much with Karen, but I just greeted her because we had common acquaintances. When Karen talked with Yuka about restarting TEDxICU, Yuka invited me because she remembered that I wanted to join TEDxICU.

Miss. Yamazaki Karen suggested restarting TEDxICU first. Then, I decided to start the activity because I wanted to create a place where people could just listen to the story and be encouraged to move forward without giving a feeling frustration.

 ___What does it mean to be without giving a feeling of frustration?

Miss. Yamazaki I think the time when we started TEDxICU was the time when the covid19 spread the most. Then I joined some events to do what I could at home. At that time, I had a positive feeling about them, but I also felt frustrated and I thought other people might also feel that. Of course, being frustrated can be a part of the motivation for moving forward, but I felt that it was mentally difficult to keep having those feelings alone while staying at home due to covid19. Therefore, I hope that the place we create is warm, accepts everyone as they are, and makes them a little motivated.

Q7. How did you feel when you started out?

Miss. Kojima Honestly, I thought it would be impossible to hold an event, and make it succeed when we started. There were almost no materials or information that could be handed over, so we searched everything and discussed what to do. It was my first time being involved in the establishment of an organization, so I felt it was fun, but I was also worried about whether we could really make TEDxICU happen.

 ___Did you not have many connections with TEDxICU that exists before?

Miss. Kojima Before there was nothing to take over, we didn’t know who belonged to clearly. It was difficult to contact the seniors, and in the end, there were no materials taken over. Thus, we just look up the past TEDxICU system and sponsors from the remaining websites, and learn from the material when I belonged to TEDxYouth@Tokyo. Also, we asked the people who are holding TEDx events at other universities for help.

Miss. Asakura I never knew how big the organization would be and if we could really hold an event in 2021. From April to July, almost only three people were building the foundation of the organization, and then, we did what we could do at that time. I felt the anxiety of course, but I was also excited.

 ___What was the driving force that made you patient even in such a situation?

Miss. Asakura When it came time to hold an event in January, I was always worried about how it be, and if we could do it. Even in that situation, I was able to maintain a strong desire to try it, because I wanted to do TEDxICU for a long time, and I was convinced about the significance of TEDxICU as Karen said earlier. The moment, when I actually held an event and thought that I had to make the event succeed, was when new members came in in October. Each member came in with a strong will and dream of what they wanted to do with TEDxICU, and in the presence of such people, I strongly felt a sense of responsibility that we have to achieve TEDxICU. I realized that I was an executive member, and I felt that it was my responsibility and role that we started to make the TEDxICU lead the event a success. 

Then, we moved forward to the event.

Miss. Yamazaki We had to start everything from scratch, so the biggest confusion was that we didn’t know what to start with. However, thanks to Karen and Rika, I was able to change my feeling to that I could solve the problems one by one without frustration.






We hope you enjoyed part1. In part2, they talked about the rewards of their activities and their thoughts on the activities. Please look forward to the next article – part2!

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