2015 TEDxAruba Conference

I was first approached to speak at TEDxUniversityofAruba in early May 2015.  I was of course delighted and honored as I have listened to many TED talks in the past.  It would be a small event, limited to 100 attendees and no live streaming.  It would have taken place on 9/9/15, but after a few months the invite had to be rescinded as they could not obtain enough sponsorship for my travel.  By then, I had found out that TEDxAruba was being planned and I hoped to be invited to that instead.

As I was to find out later, it turns out that TEDxAruba had formed its committee even before TEDxUniversityofAruba, and they intended to invite me as speaker.  However, an invite by the other conference caused a complication.   The withdrawal cleared the way now for me to join TEDxAruba, which would be a full-size conference with embassador Jim Stolze.  The topic of the conference would be Sustainability.

My attendance was announced on Facebook on 8/10/15

After a few initial emails in June 2015, I sent the committee my proposed outline, and it was approved, and I started to fill out my talk.  Essentially, my talk starts with making the case for sustainability with data from NASA's fleet of earth science satellites.  Then goes into technology that NASA has contributed to renewable energy such as PV cells, wind turbine development and energy storage.  I would then talk about how NASA runs sustainable research Centers, and space missions such as Hubble, ISS and my current satellite servicing work.  The presentation would use only public images from the web.

pica ladies
Official announcement was on FM96.5 with the Pica Ladies.  It is available here.

We travelled home to Aruba in early August 2015 for our yearly vacation with Mom, and that provided the organizers the opportunity for some press interviews.  One radio station, both TV stations (TeleAruba and ATV), and three publications (Aruba Dushi Tera, Focus and Exclusivo).

arrival in aruba
I arrived in Aruba on 9/22/15.  Interview in the airport VIP lounge.

After arrival on the island we all gathered for the rehearsal at the historic Cas di Cultura auditorium.  This is the same place my sister used to have her ballet recitals (I understand a photo of her hangs somewhere in the complex), and I had my High School graduation from Colegio Arubano.

Rehearsal the night before did not go well for me.

I consider myself a frequent speaker (especially with all the numerous successful speaking occasions in 2015), but rehearsal went poorly.  I would be the sixth of twelve speakers, and we went in the order in the program.  By then, I heard the others speak, and I was not sure I was fitting in due to fact that the topics were very wide ranging.  In addition, when I went on stage, I was facing a very large empty auditorium, and I had a hard time getting in gear.  Another reason was that we were allowed only 15 minutes (the purpose of TED talks are supposed to be short and impactfull), and I was constantly worried about going over time.  Although I had received prior coaching from Ica Jones (the local president of Toastmasters) via Skype, I did not come off well prepared.  To top it all off, I started to sweat profusely as result of the stress.  Afterwards, Ica said I sounded flat, and I needed to smile more.  It was not my finest performance.

The next morning I rehearsed out loud in front of a mirror, and my delivery improved greatly.  After a good rest in the afternoon and another practice run, I really felt ready.  The event would start at 6:30pm, and last through the evening.  We had sold out all the tickets to a big room of 500 seats, and we were streaming world-wide.

Sold Out
The evening sold out of the 500 seats in the auditorium.

With Dagmara, Head of Content for the conference and personal friend in the dressing room.

Maite Hontele was one of the speakers and she autographed a CD for me.
She was nominated for a Latin Grammy.

We were visited by Prime Minister Mike Eman and First Lady Doina Eman
in the dressing room.

This is Rachel Brathen, aka "yoga_girl", who has over two million Instagram followers.

Some of the speakers that night.  Left-right: Vanessa Benlolo, Glenn Thode, Dagmara Avanindra (Head of Content), Michael Lampe (Datapanik), Koert van Mensvoort,
unknown, unknown, and Roel van Rijsewijk.

The other speakers

My badge for the night.

The Prime Minister and Jim Stolze opened with Maybelline's choir.

My talk hosted on Youtube (edit by Peter Cheung).
Link to full stream (6 hours).

My jitters from the previous night were gone, and I delivered a good performance.
The crowd was very receptive, and the intro by Dutch Astronaut Andre Kuipers
really pumped the crowd up.  I received several waves of applause.

The energy from the crowd was really amazing.  All the other speakers and I enjoyed the talks and the reception from the crowd.

Press conference after the first set of six speakers.  I was impressed by the personal
story of each of the speakers, and felt priviledged to be part of this group.

Music and entertainment was by Michael Lampe (colorful shirt) with Datapanik and well known local artist Vincente Ras (foreground).  They sounded truly excellent and provided great upbeat dance music.

After the closing applause.  What a great evening!

I left the next day along with the Prime Minister.  He was going to NYC to attend the UN Conference with the Pope.


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(c) 2015 Edward Cheung, all rights reserved.