TEDx Talks in Sugar Land, a Power of Ideas

Speakers, performers and organizers Sonny Domagas, Mary Kobell Joyce, Kathryn Karges, John Evans, Erin Williford, Doug Grady, Raj Mankad, Huma Jafry, Sharmila Anandasabapathy, Pratyusha Pilla, Josh Evans, Erik “Mr. Awesome” Swanson, Barkat Fazal, Murad Ajani, Faisal Momin, Alim Adatia, Munira Panjwani and Nooruddin Lalani at the recent TEDx talks at The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Sugar Land. 

Speakers, performers and organizers Sonny Domagas, Mary Kobell Joyce, Kathryn Karges, John Evans, Erin Williford, Doug Grady, Raj Mankad, Huma Jafry, Sharmila Anandasabapathy, Pratyusha Pilla, Josh Evans, Erik “Mr. Awesome” Swanson, Barkat Fazal, Murad Ajani, Faisal Momin, Alim Adatia, Munira Panjwani and Nooruddin Lalani at the recent TEDx talks at The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Sugar Land.

A group of enthusiastic, intelligent and culturally diverse speakers were part of the TEDx talks in Sugar Land at The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center on August 27th. Many of these speakers shared their passions and how they are making a difference to society. Each speaker kept the audience’s interest, and it was a full house of attendees.

TED is a non-profit organization devoted to making great ideas accessible and spark conversation. TED talks are usually short and powerful, 18 minutes or less. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design came together, and today, the TED talks cover almost all topics, including health, culture, science, business and global issues.

TED talks are done in more than 100 languages by individuals from every background and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world,” said Joshua Evans, curator of the event.

“Independently run TEDx events, such as the one in Sugar Land, help share ideas in communities around the world,” said Alim Adatia, one of the event organizers.

Dr. Huma Jafry began the TED talks speaking about nanotechnology. She explained the huge potential of great things coming in small packages. “For example, nano-robots have the potential of curing ailments, and through nanotechnology, scientists have created self-cleaning fabrics and a lithium rechargeable battery in the form of paint,” said Jafry. She explained that to understand the size of a nanometer, one could take a strand of human hair, cut it into 1,000 pieces across its thickness, and the 1/1000 piece is about the size of a nanometer.

Pratyusha Pilla spoke about colorism, which is a lesser known social issue describing discrimination purely on the basis of skin tone. “I hope to bring to light the harmful nature of colorism,” said Pilla. She shared her own experience of discrimination due to not having fair skin. Pilla feels that raising awareness for this issue is the first step in alleviating the damage it causes. She received a standing ovation for her talk.

Dr. Yamile Jackson spoke about giving birth 12 weeks prematurely to her son Zachary, who weighed less than two pounds. Three weeks later, Tropical Storm Allison flooded Houston, losing power to the hospital and to all of Zachary’s life support equipment. For nine crucial hours, Jackson and her husband, Larry, along with the hospital staff, kept him alive “by hand.” Zachary stayed in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for five months, and his story of survival was the inspiration of the 2005 TNT movie 14 Hours.

Today, Zachary lives a very active and normal life. “Zachary is my Chief Inspirational Officer,” said Jackson, “which led me to develop, using the ergonomic Nurturing Technology, The Zaky, Kangaroo Zak and Zen by Zak Wellness.”

Yixin Wang started playing the guzheng, a Chinese musical string instrument with 2,500 years of history, at the age of four in China. The modern guzheng usually has 21 strings and is 64 inches long. Wang won her first national medal at the age of seven for playing the instrument. She kept the audience captive at TEDx with the soothing melody.

“The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Sugar Land hosts numerous cultural, knowledge-based and educational programs and events throughout the year which are open to the public to benefit from,” said Murad Ajani, president of the Aga Khan Council for Southwestern United States.

The other inspiring speakers at TEDxSugarLand were Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, Dr. Rumi Chunara, John Evans, Doug Grady, Melanie Johnson, Dr. Kathryn Karges, Kevan Kjar, Naveed Lalani, Dr. Raj Mankad, Farid Premani, Erik “Mr. Awesome” Swanson and Erin Williford.

Visit www.TEDxsugarland.org for more information on the event and speakers.