George Washington University faculty and students took the stage at Lisner Auditorium to speak to a crowd of 1,200 attendees representing GW, D.C. and the surrounding areas, at TEDxFoggyBottom on Friday.
The student-organized event, with the theme of “Illuminate,” highlighted the passion and ingenuity of 21 speakers and performers, including GW students Oz Fishman and Priyanka Pardasani and faculty members Leana Wen and Annamaria Lusardi.
“It feels amazing to know that we gave some remarkable speakers and performance groups a platform to share their stories,” said Brian Doyle, TEDxFoggyBottom curator and junior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. “It is eye-opening and heartwarming to see how much effort and passion they put into their talks and how much they appreciated the opportunity.”
For Dr. Wen, director of patient-centered care research in the Department of Emergency Medicine, TEDxFoggyBottom was the first time that she spoke publicly about a stuttering problem she struggled with throughout her childhood and young adult years.
She recounted stabbing herself in the leg with a pencil as a child to avoid speaking up in class and not registering for a college course in neuroscience because she couldn’t pronounce the name of the class.
“I challenge you to reclaim your fear and turn it inside out, from shame for yourself into action for others,” Dr. Wen said.
Hearing the audience respond to such a personal topic was scary and exhilarating, she said, but being a part of a such a successful community event, was even more inspiring.
“I still find it amazing that Brian and his team are full-time college students,” Dr. Wen said. “What they have accomplished by planning a student-led event that is global in scope is phenomenal.”