HorizonsJan 27, 2021
— updated Aug 10, 2021
A “Boundless” and inspiring event for youth, by youth, conceived and organized by two ambitious MHS seniors interested in spotlighting young women’s voices
Nearly one year into COVID, our students continue to learn, grow, and embody hope for a better future.
In January 2021, five students — from Brooklyn, Bulgaria, China, Ukraine, and Vietnam — pulled off a virtual TEDx they called “Boundless,” about activating positive change in the world.
By youth, for youth, the TEDxYouth@MHS conference was two hours of bold ideas, advocacy, and girls’ leadership, interspersed with live music, digital animation, virtual theater, and guided meditation. It was astonishing!
Modeled after the popular TED Talks — short talks by influential leaders on global issues — TEDx events are independently run but similarly inspirational. Selina Li ’21 and Diana Sobolieva ’21 conceived the idea and led a team of peers, including Neda Dimolareva ’22, Randi McGeary ’22, and Phuong Vo ’21, in organizing the event for their Horizons work this year.
“This event was a product of our teamwork, and it wouldn't have taken place without everyone's dedication and contributions,” said Selina, who noted that no one can know how great the damage of 2020 has been to society or how long it will take to recover.
“The only thing we know is that we can't stop thinking and innovating, which is exactly why we decided to continue planning the event this year," she added. "We hope it can not only set an example of how we can still successfully carry out an event, despite all the challenges and obstacles from the outside environment, but also inspire youth to realize our potential, and encourage our peers to start thinking about what we can do, as a young generation with great vitality, in a post-pandemic world.”
“We strive to cultivate positive changes in society and ourselves and encourage people to share their ideas. All of the talks at our event are created by students: young leaders and innovators who tackle global problems and inspire others to do so.”
The theme of “Boundless” reflected the idea of using voice, regardless of challenges. After an introduction from the organizers, the event opened with Anna ’22 singing “365 Days of Paper Airplanes” in Vietnamese. An animated short from Hannah ’21 provided a brief interlude before the first of the conference's speakers.
- Cailyn ’22 and Truc ’22, who spearheaded the Community Action Fund at MHS, shared how the idea developed, got into motion, and came to life. “It didn’t feel right to sit back, while people around us struggled,” Cailyn said.
- Emily ’23 shared two seemingly unrelated, but ultimately connected, stories to illustrate the connection between COVID-19 and climate change, crises which will require a global response. “We can all make sacrifices to save or achieve something tremendously important,” she said.
- Jessie Bai, a software engineer at Goldman Sachs, spoke about how she fell in love with computer science and her experience as a female professional in the industry. “I wrote my first line of code when I was in high school. It was like magic. It opened a new world to me,” she said.
The program’s second half opened with a brief youth-led meditation guided by members of MeditaTeen, of Toronto, Canada, and another animated short from Hannah.
- Naomi ’24 then shared her story of navigating 2020 and how racial injustice prompted her to alter her course. “The storms we weather make us stronger, and if there is one thing that I learned this year, it is that strength is what allows us to better ourselves as individuals and as a society,” she said.
- Kathleen ’22 spoke about the importance of self-care and the stigma and double-standard girls and women face when it comes to their appearance. “We need to teach girls that their self-worth comes from their own fulfillment, not others’ views or expectations,” she said.
Grace Notes, the School’s a cappella singing group, offered a brief musical interlude, performing, “Take Me Home,” by Pentatonix.
- Maggie ’22 closed the presentations by bravely sharing the story of how her adoption as a traumatized one-year-old by a family from the United States changed her life. “I am so lucky to have a family who never gave up on helping me heal, both mentally and physically,” she said.
After a preview of the MHS Theater Ensemble’s 2020-21 production, Almost Maine, and comments from members of the cast and crew, Selina offered a few closing remarks.
“2020 feels like walking through a tunnel with no light, and now we made it through the first month of 2021,” she said. “No one guarantees how this year and this time in our history will turn out, but at the end of the tunnel, there will be light. Life will go on, and I’m confident our young generation will find ways to contribute to our new world.”