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TEDxTaipeiAmericanSchool hosts speakers across the TAS community


Today, 17 Taipei American School students presented their latest project: speeches by eight members of the TAS community who shared their beliefs, goals, and perceptions during a TEDx conference in the Harmony Theater. The speakers, drawing from personal history, academic study, and more, brought invaluable insights to attendees around Taipei. Take a quick look at the stories of the speakers who presented.

Andy Xu (’20), “How Living With Tourette’s Taught Me a Lesson About Perseverance”

Andy reflected on his life with Tourette’s syndrome while being a part of the TAS community. Sharing memories from his experiences throughout middle and Upper School, Andy presented a pithy reflection on how his struggles have impacted his values. “People can be kinder toward you if you’re honest and open about your life,” he said. He also emphasized the importance of working through physical and emotional challenges, a skill he realized through his experiences with a disability. “Sure, you might not be that kid who accidentally flips people off in the middle of class,” he said, “but we all have struggles to fight through.”

Dhirpal Shah (’20), “The Best of Three Worlds”

“I was fascinated by Hannah Montana,” said Dhirpal in his speech on cross-cultural experiences. Her adept code-switching, he said, reminded him of his own life at the intersection of three cultures. He reflected on experiences both in TAS environments and at home, and the high expectations put on him which inspired him to work past language and educational barriers.
“I tried to blend in. But when you’re 190 centimeters tall and just a couple of shades darker than everyone else, that doesn’t work out that well,” said Dhirpal. “The stereotypes [that other students placed on me] would help me become the person I wanted to be.”

Sisy Chen (’19) and Tingjen Hsieh (’20), “A Life-Changing Superpower: Words”

Sisy and Tingjen presented on the importance of using words carefully and deliberately, and using words that minimized hurt. “Words are like keys,” said Sisy. Using a combination of personal school experiences and data gathered from survey respondents at TAS, the two expressed the importance of reconsidering the social context of words. Each speaker remembered their own stories behind their dedication to speaking with intent, and offered the audience new perspectives and solutions to long-standing issues.

Ms. Carly Bargel, “Cultivating Positivity”

Inspired by her father, Ms. Bargel wanted to learn how to become a more positive person. Using personal experiences from her father and research from behavioral psychologists, she outlined the four steps that she believes are key to remaining positive and creating a more optimistic mindset.
“No matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine,” she said.

Rachel Hsu (’19), “The Lessons We Choose To Learn”

After being introduced to comics as a creative discipline as a student at the Young Writers Workshop in Virginia, Rachel applied her knowledge to promoting academic and literary comics. “There’s a whole world of comics out there waiting to be read,” she said. Describing the artistic nuances of design in graphic art and their impact on the reader, Rachel advocated for the usage of more unconventional tools as educational mechanisms.

Mr. Luke Walker, “Historical Thinking: The Necessity of An Unnatural Act”

Mr. Walker, a history and social studies teacher at TAS, explains the importance of using both historical thinking to inform our thinking, and offered a historical controversy—a debate around Abraham Lincoln’s views on race—to explain his views.
“It’s important to have honest discussions about history,” he said during the speech. “About what we think about it: both in our past, and in our present.”


Melissa Chang (’18), “The Evolution of Technology”

“Imagine if all of our devices were powered by light.” said Melissa Chang (’18). Her presentation analyzed the history of technological developments, explaining concepts like Moore’s law, and envisioned a future in light-based computing.

Vivian Chiang, “Creating Discomfort”

From an early age, Vivian Chiang was committed to stretching her limits, both emotionally and intellectually. Her TEDx talk told her personal life story, beginning in high school when she decided to leave Taipei and TAS for a new country. She then went on to map out her lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities, and eventually, the transformation of her personal world when she moved back to Taiwan. A former pre-med student who decided to study electrical engineering in her junior year at Stanford, Chiang emphasized the importance of challenges. “Learn hard things, do something that scares you, make hard decisions,” she said.

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