Tedx visits Towson
Former CNN television reporter Kathleen Koch has witnessed the devastation of two natural disasters.
Koch was in her hometown in Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina hit, and saw her entire town flattened.
Many of her neighbors lost everything.
A few years later, Koch flew to Japan shortly after the country was shaken by an earthquake and tsunami, which killed over 15,000 people.
Rather than standing around idly and watching others do the cleanup, Koch decided to take action by reaching out to both communities in Mississippi and Japan, and ultimately starting the non-profit movement Letters for Japan.
“It’s important to not be paralyzed by the enormity of what you see before you,” Koch said.
Koch spoke about her activism at TEDxTowsonU, an independently run TED event.
TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation. TED events share “ideas worth spreading,” the events being a large-scale exchange of ideas. TED grants licenses for TEDx events in cities across the globe.
Koch was one of the ten speakers that made an appearance as part of the event, all of whom spoke about the topic of goodness preceding greatness.
Junior international business major Jessica Cooke said she was moved by Koch and the rest of the speakers.
“I was crying a little bit over the Japan letter writing,” she said. “I’ve never really experienced an impact that a campaign like that can have.”
Koch said she wanted her speech to make students feel like they can accomplish anything.
“People are always saying ‘You can’t do that,’” Koch said. “And it’s hard to look at famous icons and say ‘I can make a difference.’”
Former astronaut and Director of the Willard Hackerman Academy in the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics Don Thomas said he wanted students to walk away from his speech feeling as if they can accomplish their goals at any point in their life.
“I got rejected from being an astronaut three times, but I kept trying to improve my skill set to be a better candidate,” he said. “Students should just know to never give up on their dreams. I was just an average guy with a huge dream, and I eventually got to see that dream come true.”
Hilary Corna, the author of the book “One White Face,” was the last person to speak at the conference, and said students should never be afraid to try new things and travel abroad.
“Right after I graduated college, I bought a one-way ticket to Singapore, and set out to find a job,” she said. “It took me a while, but once I warmed up to the culture there, and learned to not be intimidated by a different culture and different people, I really began to thrive.”
Junior business administration major Craig Hammond said he was impacted most by Corna’s speech.
“Last year, I came up with a new philosophy in my life, that I wasn’t going to be afraid to try new things,” he said. “So when [Corna] spoke about traveling to other countries, and trying new things and connecting with new people, that stuck with me the most.”
One hundred students were allowed to attend the event, and they had to fill out an application in order to attend.
Angie Hong, programming assistant for the department of civic engagement, and Interim Coordinator for Civic Engagement Nicole Kazanecki co-coordinated the event, and Director for Student Activities Dirron Allen hosted the conference.