A group of students from across Keio’s affiliated high schools approached TED to organize an independent speaking event of their own in March 2016. TEDx Keio High School, modeled after the widely popular TED-talk format, featured students and graduates from affiliated high schools and followed in a long tradition of public speaking at Keio.
Keio Senior High School served as the venue for TEDx Keio High School
An Early Start
Back in 2013, 15-year-old Kazuharu Fukui was already full of big ideas. He had created a smartphone app that reminded elderly people to take their medicine, garnering both awards and national media attention. He was invited to speak about his experiences developing an app at TEDx Keio (talk in Japanese), a TEDx event run by Keio University that welcomed presenters from throughout the Keio system. "It's been three years since I did that first TED talk," said Fukui, now a second-year student at Keio Senior High School. "I thought it was time to organize an event of our own within the Keio high school system." Direct communication with TED in English was a challenge, he says, but well worth the trouble: he and his classmates were able to successfully negotiate an official agreement with TED.
At that point, the students formed a planning committee. “We really struggled with our theme,” Fukui says. In the end, the students agreed that both students and alumni should present on a theme that united Keio's senior high school system across schools and generations. They decided on “togetherness,” a nod to the diverse and talented people who come to learn and grow together at Keio. The cast of speakers illustrates this well. Alumni speakers included a CEO, film director, and orchestra founder, who all drew connections between their studies and their current success. Presenters chose far-ranging topics that touched on local forestry practices, changing the world through IT, and student interpretations of diversity.
Kanji Yamamoto | Third-year student, Keio Shonan Fujisawa Senior High School
“Diversity is not just about ethnicity, culture, or other backgrounds. It’s also about individual beings, ideas, experiences, and community.”
Working Together Towards Solutions
Perhaps the biggest effect was felt among the students involved in organizing the event. Senri Doi, a second-year student from Keio Girls Senior High School, gave a very personal presentation about her experiences as a violinist and visual artist. “I was nervous,” she said, “so I was shocked at how smoothly my presentation went.” Public speaking was a first for many other presenters, too, who commented on how much they learned through speaking to a large audience.
Fukui reflected that he was struck by the importance of communication when organizing an event on this scale. “There were so many setbacks and clashes of opinions along the way, but we were united in our end goal.” They were adamant to solve every problem they faced on their own, which led to the success of this year’s event. Fukui says he is excited at the prospects of a second and even a third TEDx Keio High School event in the near future.