This morning, Collegiate parent and TED speaker Andy Stefanovich spoke to the international delegates about the power of individualism. Praised by Mrs. Sisisky for “his ability to get people excited about working with people who are different and bring people together,” Mr. Stefanovich highlighted the importance of each person bringing his or her personal point of view to the table to improve group collaboration and creativity. Mr. Stefanovich opened his speech by ushering a volunteer, Yassine M. from Morocco, out of the room. As Yassine re-entered the room, the audience hailed him with a full three minutes of standing ovation, complete with hearty whoops and name chants. Clarifying the purpose of this activity, Mr. Stefanovich concisely explained, “Sometimes you just need to give someone applause; sometimes you just need to say ‘You’re awesome, and I don’t know even know why.’”

Continuing with his talk, Mr. Stefanovich explained the idea of passion in action, or the thought that to truly understand yourself, you need a comprehensive understanding of your passions. To drive this point further, Mr. Stefanovich encouraged the group to turn to a partner and explain why they love the things they love. Alex J. explained his love of movies, saying, “[When making a movie,] you get to entertain people and make them smile, [and] you grow closer to the people whom you make the movie with.” Rayan D., from Lebanon, qualified her artistic passion by explaining, “[With art,] you can express yourself… If you cannot talk about something, you can draw it, or write it down on paper, and that’s how I can talk to you… It’s how you get to know yourself better.” Next, Feryal B., also from Lebanon, told the group about her enthusiasm for philosophy, describing, “I like to know the reasons why we exist. Like, why are we here, and who are we?” Finally, Yi L., from the Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School at Yangzhou, brought a completely different perspective to the crowd, telling the group that he wants a launch a rocket ship and “See [his] own Earth from the Moon”. Mr. Stefanovich congratulated the group, telling them, “Every one of these passions make you up as a collective… but it’s your collective individualism that makes you special.. each one of us brings something really powerful to the equation, so bring it!”

Next, Mr. Stefanovich encouraged every person to have the courage to speak up. After he motivated the ambassadors with the words, “When you hear brilliant, say brilliant,” the Ambassadors shouted, “Brilliant!,” following especially poignant moments. Mr. Stefanovich brought out a piece of paper he found at a coffee shop, holding the words, “When all of the people in the world love one another, the strong will not overpower the weak, the many will not oppress the few, and the wealthy will not mock the poor.” Following this, Mr. Stefanovich asked his audience what they would tell the world, if given the chance, and in other words, what they believe to be true. Kgaugelo P., from the Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng, inspired the crowd with her words, “I believe in treasuring yourself, for you should believe in yourself… If you had to be someone else, who would be you?” Mr. Stefanovich praised her thought, saying, “Words create the world.”

“The risk you put on things, in terms of stepping outside of yourself, and being a person, and having a point of view, is not nearly as great as you make it out to be,” encouraged Mr. Stefanovich, urging the International Emerging Leaders Conference participants to take risks. “The worst thing that can happen is that you do not make the moment it needs to be.”

Mr. Stefanovich ended his speech with the words, “I think I love imperfection… I think that the world is so perfect it’s almost polite… and when you’re polite, you don’t make the point you need to make. My mom and dad gave me the gift of realizing that I am just me, not perfect, but me, and it’s a really great gift. It’s about being imperfect, about being you, and being you all of the time.”

Visit the following link to watch Andy Stefanovich’s TEDxNASA talk: