Balloons, bees and space missions were among the topics discussed under the “Taking Flight” theme at Saturday’s TEDxUNC conference.
The annual conference took place at Memorial Hall Saturday and included 15 speeches and six performance groups.
The conference featured two student speakers: junior Safiyah Ismail and senior Bobby Mook. Both gained the opportunity to speak through a competition held earlier this school year. All those who competed were required to submit a one minute video proposal, and seven were then selected to compete with a five minute audition in January in front of almost 500 attendees.
TEDxUNC co-curator Julia Ramos said one of last year’s student speakers, Laura Rozo, a UNC junior who died a few weeks after her talk, set a precedent for this year’s speakers.
“She set the bar really high,” Ramos said.
Ismail spoke about the impact that learning sign language has had on her life and how it is different from spoken language. She also described the barriers that exist between users of sign language living in different geographical regions.
“My favorite thing about sign language is how it forces you to flesh out your emotions,” Ismail said during her talk.
Junior Shayna Purcell said that she appreciated Ismail’s message.
“I thought (her talk) was really amazing,” Purcell said. “She is very articulate. …It definitely made me think about language in a way that I haven’t before.”