Independently organized TED event to take place in Scarborough

Speakers reflect Scarborough's diversity, organizers say

Yusef Dualeh watched his first Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) talk video when he was in Grade 5. He thought about becoming a speaker one day.

“I assume I would probably have a chance to do this in my 30s or 40s,” said the fourth-year University of Toronto Scarborough student.

Yusef Dualeh, a Scarborough stand-up comedian, is one of the 12 speakers for the inaugural TEDxUTSC conference which will take place next year at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Courtesy Yousef Dualeh)

Shortly before his 21st birthday, Dualeh learned that he would join 11 other speakers at the inaugural TEDxUTSC, an independently organized conference that will take place on Feb. 2 at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Started 25 years ago as an annual conference, TED has grown from a local event in California to an online hub of innovative ideas.

In 2009, the brand created TEDx to allow individuals and local communities to organize independent conferences and share TED-like experiences.

It quickly spread to university campuses such as Ryerson and Wilfrid Laurier, as well as cities such as Toronto and Richmond Hill. Over 130 countries and 1200 cities have hosted a TEDx event, according to Forbes.

TEDxUTSC’s lineup of speakers includes professors, alumni and community members whose expertise range from theatre and education to environmental activism and personal finance.

Diriye Hassan, the conference’s director of speaker relations, said the cast is curated to reflect the diversity of Scarborough.

“We don’t want to have a cookie-cutter conference,” he said. “We want something you can only see on our campus and in our community.”

Following the tradition of the TED brand, the audience will have to apply to be part of the 100 delegates.

“It’s more than simply sitting down,” Hassan explained. “We want people who will come, learn something, and not just be passive bystanders, but active members of the conference.”

With a YouTube channel that has accumulated more than a million views, Dualeh, a Scarborough resident, is best known among his friends and fans as a stand-up comedian. But he said conference goers can expect something different from him at TEDxUTSC, as he plans to discuss how positive attitude leads to a productive life.

“I just want to get my idea out there. The humour is supplementary,” he said.