Last year TEDx Nicosia started with a hugely moving account from a teacher, about his experience growing up during the Cyprus invasion and his efforts over the years in bringing the two communities back together, after so much conflict and pain. I think the only people in the room who were not moved (if there were any) were made of stone. And for me until today, that was the emotion stirred inside each time I thought of TEDx Nicosia, that feeling of: “Wow, we have some amazing people here, doing amazing things, and we just don’t know about them all.”
This year’s TEDx Nicosia was even bigger – bigger venue, audience, team, agenda but the format remained the same. A selection of speakers that you wouldn’t normally have in the same place, all speaking about completely different things, yet each one adding their own dimension or way for you to think about issues, or making you remember others you’d forgotten. This year we had some more well-known speakers, but they were not speaking about their usual subjects.
There were many great speakers, some of the highlights included:
– Cyprus Mail’s Stefanos Evripidou, who entertained us whilst also educating us about the changing media landscape
– Katerina Kaouri who convinced us all to rethink maths – showing us that it can be cool and how mathematical models can even help with love and online dating
– Eloiza Savvidou who inspired us all to dream and to work in the zone that makes us happy – delivered with her infectious enthusiasm
– Oren Simanian from the Tel Aviv University Entrepreneurship Centre, who showed us that we are not limited by many of the things that we may think we are; and that it’s OK to fail first in order to learn how to succeed.
– Michael Virardi explaining his personal story, of why he had to leave the ’good boy’ mould and do something that made him happy in himself.
However, two of Saturday’s speakers really stood out for me personally.
The first, İdil Seytanoglu, a Turkish Cypriot spoke about her experience meeting a Greek Cypriot for the first time, something I think all of us growing up in post-1974 Cyprus experienced at some point. I was moved when she described her drive and determination, working hard as she moved up in the business world, but then how she felt torn leaving other things behind, like time with precious family and friends, dilemmas which many of us feel when working hard with only a limited amount of hours in the day. It was a reminder that time and life is precious, and that we need make sure we are living it to the full. Listening to her experiences, I am reminded that we forget how similar we are, living on two sides of the same country, feeling the same things, separated only by our history and from being told that we are enemies.
And the other speaker for me, who was also my personal highlight of this year’s event, was the very charismatic Roddy Damalis from Piatakia, one of my favourite restaurants in Limassol. Despite knowing Roddy, at TEDx I got to hear his hugely personal and brutally honest account of his life for the first time, from how he grew up got to where he is today. And through this amazing story, which was gracefully delivered with very real emotion and modesty, Roddy did what I feel sums up TED for me. He successfully communicated his personal story in his very unassuming fashion, and got across his deep passion for what he does; how his love for cooking helped him pull through several great challenges and fears, how it became his sanctuary and how he continues to live his dream today through his restaurant, introducing others to the wonders of food and adding aroma to their lives. Listening to Roddy, makes you want to feel that strong passion for something, and to experience that love to live your dream the way he has. A superb talk, which deservedly got applause which continued long after he had left the stage.
Overall, TEDx Nicosia once again left us feeling moved, motivated, inspired by the stories, and with an overall warmth and positivity that makes you feel that only good can come of this collection of stories, minds and ideas. Who knew we could have this right here on our doorstep, when we all think we need to go abroad every so often to get a dose of inspiration and drive.
I am fortunate to count several people on the TEDx team as my friends, and I know they are all driven by the inspirational TEDx Nicosia founder and curator Marina “Be the change you want to see” Theodotou -another great person I am extremely fortunate to count as a friend.
Guys – thank you ALL for the countless hours, selfless motivation and tireless energy bringing this event to life for us and for making a difference– ROCK ON!!
And well done Roddy for being a worthy and hugely emotional highlight for 2013.