The major takeaways from curating TEDxOxbridge 2017

TEDxOxbridge is a unique event that alternates every year between Oxford and Cambridge. It brings together the two oldest rival universities in the UK and it is one of the very few examples of cooperation between their students. This year’s event was held in Oxford and we had 38 students of both universities that dispersed between six different teams led by Oxford MBA students. More specifically I worked directly with Nitisha Agrawal for logistics, Daniela Postarini Medina for production, Akshay Dalal for content/speakers, Ankit Mahajan for marketing, Issam Abu-Aisheh for sponsorship and Tilkesh Purohit for finance.

Due to my passion for theatre and arts I tend to draw parallels between these activities and my experience with TEDxOxbridge. I see the role of the Curator as the director or the maestro leading a team of talented people to perform. The role of the Curator is to make sure that the vision and message is told across all different functions. Because of my professional background in marketing and my personal interest in theatre I regard myself as a story-teller and I wanted to use the platform of TEDxOxbridge to share a powerful message under the theme of “Bridge of Whys”, which is close to my heart.

I come from Greece and people may know my country for different reasons but many associate it with the recent economic crisis and the danger of “Grexit”, which was heavily publicised in international headlines a few years back. A difficult experience as it was for all of us, it was only made worse by seeing our people divided into separate camps. People sought and argued for completely different versions of Greece with passion and hostility towards others with opposing views. Witnessing this division was a shocking experience and it seemed terrifyingly familiar when I observed a similar pattern being followed in many other countries around the world.

Division and social discord is today a universal issue. It was only last year in this very country that British people were heavily divided because of the referendum, which led to the so-called “Brexit”. Ironically I was interviewing for the role of TEDxOxbridge Curator on the day Donald Trump was elected President of the US after a very divisive and intense election. It was clear to me that to find our lost common ground we needed to find ways to build more bridges among us and to try understand each other. TEDx was an ideal platform to pursue this goal.

The Bridge of Whys, for those you know Oxford and Cambridge, is a pun of the Bridge of Sighs that can be found in both Universities. The annual TEDx event brings together the two rival universities but with this year’s theme, we aimed to do more, by bridging different ideas, different worlds and different perspectives. We also encouraged people to ask “why” in order to listen to the other side and understand it. Our theme did not only cover politics, but rather a variety of topics such as journalism, entrepreneurship, entertainment, coaching, innovation, technology, and many others.

The speakers were all very powerful and inspirational. It was very diverse line-up of individuals who currently live in the UK, India, Rwanda, Belgium, USA, France and Qatar. There was a 50–50% gender parity in speakers and a very vibrant audience. We at the organising team were very happy with the final result and the event had very positive feedback from participants.

More importantly, bridges were built and many friendships and relationships were formed during this event. An experience that I will cherish forever and arguably is one of my best memories of this year in Oxford.

Source: Women of Oxford Saïd

All talks are available online at: