First Ever TEDx Youth @ ACS Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s youth is active, exciting, and inspiring as evidenced by the first TEDxYouth event held recently at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS). Organized by high school students Dina Shriem (Palestinian) and Dennis Hilgendorf (American), and adviser Lane Graciano, the theme of the event was “tell us a story,” featuring 10 presenters: three students and seven teachers. Teachers’ topics included reasons to read classic literature and questioning the meaning of education. But the best presentations were by three high school students who each had their own unique message to convey.

Ashwini Singh, a 16-year-old South African, spoke about anime—Japanese film and television animation—and how it has something for everyone. She advocated that through the medium of anime that attributes such as compassion and generosity can be learned.

Amira Al-Subaey, a Saudi-American 16-year-old, spoke about the seven lessons she learned from her journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Being the youngest Saudi woman to top the African peak, Amira talked about her experience through different lessons she learned including “surrounding yourself with motivation,” “mind over matter,” and that “the end is not the end.” She said she would carry with her, for the rest of her life, the lessons she took down from that mountain.

Julia Grifferty, a 15-year-old American, talked about the detriment of using plastic water bottles, and her environmental campaign titled “Boot the Bottle.” Julia gripped the audience demonstrating how discontinuing the use of plastic water bottles is both economically and socially beneficial. Her anti-plastic bottle campaign has swept the American Community School, and plastic water bottles are no longer sold to students. TEDxYouth was the perfect outlet for these students to express their passions and inspire new ideas and ways of thinking in the audience.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit organization that began as a conference in California 26 years ago and has since then grown into a global set of conferences with live presenters communicating ideas and stimulating conversation. With its slogan and mission “ideas worth spreading” TED created a programme called TEDx, which are independently organized events designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the ability to create a local TED-like experience. With more TEDxYouth events, Abu Dhabi’s youth can continue to inspire the public.

Do you have ideas worth spreading?

For information about TED’s upcoming conferences, visit

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By: Sophia Grifferty, 11th Grade Student Council Vice President, ACS

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