Human power to overcome adversity the focus of TEDx event at NU-Q

Isra Fejzullaj, Staff Reporter

Maintaining human values in times of crisis was the theme of the “TEDxNorthwesternUQatar: Humanity in Adversity” event, attended by an audience of about 100 at Northwestern University in Qatar on Sept. 22.

Sam Meekings, associate professor of the liberal arts program at NU-Q, spoke about the power of stories we tell about ourselves to make decisions and improve our quality of life. Referring to a 2005 study showing that journaling can help individuals take control of their personal narratives and use them for their own good, he said, “I know how easy it is because I do it myself. I sometimes say to myself, ‘I feel like I’m my own worst enemy,’” and cited his own personal experiences.

Sam Meekings speaking at the event. (Photo/ TEDxNorthwesternUQatar)

Alena Kishmaraia, a life coach based in Doha with a background in psychology, focused on the concept of “looking for an enemy,” whether driven by hatred toward a specific group or society on the other side of the globe during the pandemic or targeting one’s self in other contexts. “I want the audience to feel safer and freer in this world, to start seeing the world not as a number of threats but as a set of opportunities,” she said and shared short exercises and thought-provoking questions to enable the audience to reflect on their outlooks on the world. 

Alena Kishmaria urged the audience to reflect on their outlooks on the world. (Photo/ TEDxNorthwesternUQatar)

Arnav Raman, an international economics major at Georgetown University in Qatar, discussed his experience with hardships and adversities in India, his home country. He shared stories about communities cooperating to overcome hardships during the pandemic but added that media coverage of such efforts is lacking. “It is unfortunate that in our times, bad media makes more headlines and is more appealing to people than good media,” Raman said of negative vs. positive coverage. 

GU-Q student Arnav Raman spoke about negative coverage of the COVID-19 adversity in India. (Photo/ TEDxNorthwesternUQatar)

Adan Ali, a digital media professional with a background in journalism, inspired the audience by discussing “humanity’s ability to regroup for a resolve,” citing how he and his friends turned the adversity of COVID-19 into an opportunity to help communities in need. Ali, a 2022 NU-Q graduate, talked about Mask Banao (Make a Mask), a public-health awareness campaign he co-founded from his dorm room during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite various obstacles including global lockdowns. 

NU-Q alum Adan Ali spoke about how humanity can come alive in times of adversities, citing a campaign he co-founded. (Photo/ TEDxNorthwesternUQatar)

“This TEDx conference was full of groundbreaking insights,” said Dana Talantbekova, a freshman from NU-Q. “I appreciate the team that worked hard to provide such a great event,” she added, noting that Meekings’ speech gave her a sense of vulnerability and kindness.

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