Photo Essay: TedxTalk and UCSD


Kathleen Shiroma

What guides you along your path? What centers you amidst the chaos of the surrounding world? How do you navigate the chaos of your own mind?

These are just a few questions Arlene Nagtalon, Charles Vu, Narin Fazlalipour, and Ishika Rathi endeavored to answer with their TED talks at TEDxUCSD’s annual Winter Salon on February 16th. Held at The Loft, these four UCSD students delivered the talks they have spent the last few months developing to the theme “True North”. The theme was selected by the TEDxUCSD team, whose theme description writes, “‘True North’ encompasses a focal point, goal, and source of wonder that dares one to wander the ways less traveled”.

You might have heard of TED, a nonprofit provide speakers from across the globe a platform to share any “ideas worth spreading” (TED). Across the country, the TEDx program allows communities around the world to independently organize local events under the TED license (TED). TEDxUCSD is one of these independently established organizations at UCSD, which holds an annual Winter Salon and Main Conference. Their Winter Salon invites UCSD students to develop and deliver their very own TED talks. This year marks the first in person TEDxUCSD event in several years.

The night was hosted by Irum Aamer, Grace Chun, and Shreya Sharma from the TEDxUCSD External Relations team. They began the night by introducing the first student speaker, Arlene Nagtalon, and her talk titled “Celebrate You Inner Multi-Hyphenate”. Arlene spoke of battling the stigma and embracing the power of being a “multi-hyphenate”, someone who balances a variety of skills. “More people like us are needed to combat some of the most pressing issues, like global climate change, the fight for human rights, and poverty, just to name a few,” Arlene declared. She urged others to “refuse to be limited by narrow minded people and societal expectations, go forth in being all that you aspire to be, and celebrate your inner multi-hyphenate.”

After Arlene’s talk, a quick game of “Herd Mentality” was hosted by Grace Chun and fellow TEDxUCSD team member Tienna Chen before continuing with the next presentation. The second speaker was Charles Vu, who delivered his talk, “The Significance of Being True to Yourself”. He chronicled his undergraduate journey toward med school and his struggles with anxiety and expectations, voiced through his conversations with his critical frenemy, Owen. At the end of his talk, Charles revealed that Owen was a personification of his own insecurities, concluding the talk by telling the audience, “Please don’t let the Owens of the world dictate your happiness and tell you what is best for you” because “at the end of the day, you are the person who decides what your purpose and direction will be.”

Narin Fazlalipour was the third speaker, with her talk titled, “Defining the Egocentric Self”. She described one of her close friendships, one that broke apart after several fights. Narin used the friendship breakup as an opportunity for self examination and reflection on past relationships; by doing so, she discovered the price of her own ego. She concluded by describing the “mine of gold hidden within you” and called for the audience to “dig down, carve every inch of yourself to become better every day” to discover ”a glory that is unique to you and will always serve you”.

A short intermission followed, allowing the audience to reflect on the speakers’ messages. The TEDxUCSD team regrouped the audience with another round of “Herd Mentality” before segueing into the final talk of the night.

The night concluded with the last speaker, Ishika Rathi and her talk, “Why You Should Have a Hobby You Refuse to Get Good At”. Ishika recounted her life and the competitive pressure instilled by hustle culture to constantly commodify skills. But she was halted upon a discovery during the pandemic: crochet. She highlighted the significance of having a hobby that she refused to capitalize upon— of simply enjoying the act of crocheting without striving for perfection. “In a profit-driven society that demands results, quantity, and perfection,” Ishika said “…it is an act of rebellion to actively nurture at least one part of our life that we refuse to get better at”.

At the close of the event, audience members gathered to congratulate and thank the student speakers for their insightful thoughts. The talks inspired many important conversations– of self worth, self determination, relationships, balance, and much more. The takeaways of the salon are ones that are sure to leave a lasting impact upon every listener and inspire them to consider their own personal true north.

Curtains open for the beginning of the TEDxUCSD’s annual Winter Salon. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian
(From left to right) Irum Aamer, Grace Chun, and Shreya Sharma from the TEDxUCSD team host the event. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian
TEDxUCSD’s “True North” Winter Salon program. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian
Narin Fazlalipour giving her TED talk, “Defining the Egocentric Self”. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian
Charles Vu giving his TED talk, “The Significance of Being True to Yourself”. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian
Arlene Nagtalon giving her TED talk, “Celebrate You Inner Multi-Hyphenate”. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian
Ishika Rathi giving her TED talk, “Why You Should Have a Hobby You Refuse to Get Good At”. Kathleen Shiroma | The UCSD Guardian