AW Sophomores Chosen For April 26 TEDx Event

Anthony Wayne High School sophomores Arjun Jayaraman and Aradhya Muthumula are among the 12 area high school students who will speak at a TEDx event at Maumee Valley Country Day School on Friday, April 26 at 5:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Spending five days in different airports doesn’t sound like fun, but Aradhya Muthumula was so inspired by the unexpected delays on what was to be a 19-hour flight to India that she decided to speak about it publicly.

“We ended up in Malaysia. We spent five days in airports,” she said. “Some people would see that as a horrible experience, but I remember it fondly. If you have a negative mentality, you’re going to remember the experience horribly. If you go in with a positive attitude, you will remember the bright side.”

“The Bright Side” is the title of a talk that Aradhya will present this Friday, April 26 during a free TEDx event at Maumee Valley Country Day School.

Aradhya and fellow sophomore Arjun Jaya-raman will represent Anthony Wayne High School at the event organized by MVCDS students and Monclova Township residents Layan Ridi and Daivik Patel.

“We had tremendous response from our peers throughout the area,” Layan said, adding that the TEDx Talks are a way for peers to share ideas and passions with a receptive audience. The topics are designed to promote thought-provoking discussion on topics relative to their generation, she said.

TED began in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged. Today, TED is a worldwide forum for exploring everything from science and business to education, arts and global issues. In addition, more than 3,000 independently run TEDx events bring people together to share ideas and bridge divides in communities.

The main difference between TED and TEDx is that TEDx is often focused on local topics or features everyday citizens as speakers rather than experts.

While hosted by the private school, the TEDx Talk was opened up for high school students throughout Lucas County to vie for a spot on the stage. Arjun learned of the opportunity through fellow Youth Leadership Toledo member Layan and invited Aradhya to apply – a process that involved pitching their ideas during an online interview with students. A total of 12 were selected to give eight-minute presentations.

“How Our Idols Can Motivate Us,” Arjun’s topic, will include examples on how to become a better person by looking at idols. 

“If you want people to listen to you, you have to make it funny,” said Arjun.” It’s going to be lighthearted – more like a personal talk.”

TED Talks are a way to spread an idea or story, he added, pointing to Tim Urban’s TED Talk, “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator,” as humorous yet educational.

Aradhya said her dad often sends her TED Talks on video.

“He thinks it’s a really good way for people to share their experiences and for people to learn life lessons like how to build your confidence, how to better yourself in the workplace, or how to experience different opportunities,” she said.

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s TED Talk, “Using Your Voice Is a Political Choice,” inspired Aradhya. Gorman is well-known for her poem “The Hill We Climb,” which she presented during President Joe Biden’s January 2021 inauguration.

While both have done some public speaking and emceeing during Hindu Temple of Toledo events, neither have taken a formal speech class.

Aradhya credits Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) for giving her public speaking and leadership opportunities, as well as being on student council. Speaking isn’t as much of a challenge as writing the speech, she said.

For Arjun, it’s just the opposite. Writing the content was easy, but preparing to give the speech flawlessly has him practicing a lot more – especially in his basement or in the shower.

Also speaking during the event are:

• Sydney Abercombie, MVCDS, “The Joy of Music and Life.”

• Abigail Beier, Notre Dame Academy, “Empathy in the Face of Fear.”

• Zayn Cheema, Ottawa Hills High School, “Consumerism Beyond Buying, Understanding Impact.”

• Eshan Darr, MVCDS, “Mosaic of Identity: Piecing Together Who We Are.”

• May Drew, MVCDS, “Blood Quantum: Min-imizing Identity.”

• Reihana Djema, Sylvania Southview, “Global Reflections: The Ten Stages of Genocide.”

• Tristan Hirt, MVCDS, “Dream the Storm.”

• Vaneesa Panchal, Sylvania Northview, “Red Flags in Our Food.”

• Raelyn Perry, Sylvania Southview, “Phone Addictions.”

• Robbie Zhang, Perrysburg, “Why Asian Sons Should Appreciate Their Mothers.”

The TEDx event will be held in the school’s Mill-ennium Theatre, 1715 S. Reynolds Rd., from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The free event is open to the public and will consist of several breaks, including a longer one during which snacks and dinner will be provided.

For more information, see @TedxMVCDS on Instagram and @TEDx MVCDS on X or visit mvcds.org/tedx.

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