What I’ve Taken Away from Taking the Leap

Written by: Chelsea Pacunana | Photo credit: Shane Sharma


It started off with the colour red. Not the red dot placed at the center of the TEDxSFU stage, but of the head to toe red ensemble of the event’s first speaker Dan Lok. Lok spoke of his story of success, and probed the audience with the questions of “How hungry are you for success? Is it simply something you talk about, or are you committed to victoriously tasting it?” He encouraged that despite what other’s may consider a “lack of luck” – being an immigrant with no English, a C student, with divorced parents, who was shy and had 13 failed business – success was still attainable for him. As it is for all of us.

Alissa Antle shared the simple message that we can calm down amidst the stress and anxiety of our lives. Just taking a deep breath. To close our eyes and visualize that we are holding a colourful pinwheel in our hand, to take a deep breath, exhale, and focus on the impact self-regulation practices have on how we feel.

Tara Teng discussed how as a proud Christian, Jesus has been her reason to be an even more convicted feminist. Through examples from the Bible, she drew inspiration on the life of Jesus to shape her own. Teng also warned of the dangers associated with not contextualizing church readings and misinterpreting the scriptures.

Rosan Auyeung-Chen reassured us that while none of us want to be lonely, we are never lonely if we are able to connect. She explains care, compassion, love and empathy all stem from connections. Although difficult, she challenged us to reflect on the bad vibes, judgments, and assumptions we may label others that may hinder us from forming a connection with them. It is through accepting these weaknesses that we can be stronger and more grounded.

Nohémie Mawaka posed the questions “Why doesn’t the media have people that look like you? How would it, or does it, influence your consumer choices?” She contextualized this question by sharing how her Master’s class was asked “Do you think a women of African descent could have the same impact as Mother Theresa?” and their answer was no. Mawaka called us to recognize our innate and internal biases, to expose ourselves to people who live in conditions different than our own, and to realize the importance of intersectionality and cultural curiosity.

Zebulon Austin revealed to us that one of the secrets behind his artistic creations is embracing a part of himself that he thought was an insecurity, or something he did not quite like about himself. He urges us to stay uncomfortable.

Ian Crosby explains how his company is attempting to be its own sort of rebellion against mediocrity in business. Simple things such as allowing dogs in the workplace can make quite the different to the overall environment of it all.  Yet, it’s not only changes in the work space, but their interactions with customers which strive to be thoughtful rather than passive transactions. Crosby noted that it’s about choosing priorities.

Alexa Mazzarello discussed the topic of body insecurities, and opened up about her own. Through her photography projects, she aimed to start a discussion on the insecurities we all face concerning our own bodies. She presented the questions “When you look in the mirror, what do you see or think about? Think of the last time someone wanted to take a photo of you, what were you thinking” She addresses our culture as one she titles, “retouched” culture, in which many of us aim to hide, edit out, and retouch photographic representations of ourselves. Yet, she shared the discrepancy between how she confidently views her clients behind the lens, in contrast to the insecurity in how they may view themselves.

Missy Jena reminded us that children think differently. Furthermore, we should think differently about the role of school and learning. School should urge children, men, and women to create new things rather than repeat what’s already been done. She called attention to the notions that you can’t force learning; you can’t hold someone’s attention forcefully; that a child that hasn’t known respect has none to spare; and that a child’s brain is theirs to control.

Finally, Danny Ramadan discussed the growth of his refugee tree. From seeking solitude in the home he rooted himself in within Syria, to become unrooted and finding himself here in Canada. A refugee. He reminded us that uprooting a tree and placing it in foreign soil is difficult, not only in adjusting but it growing in a new environment. Ramadan’s talk reminds us of the importance of listening to the stories of those we may consider minorities, different, or are simply do not know much about and yet may have prejudices towards.


*This article was written as part of our Travel and Conference funding requirement. The views presented in this article may not necessarily represent the values that the SFU Communication Student Union holds.*