TEDxManipal hosted its first-ever TED Circles on the 26th of September, an enlightening event that brought together people from different backgrounds to discuss and exchange ideas or inspirations and dig deep together on a lively discussion on the theme—Imagination.
The event, which was conducted on Zoom, saw the participation of not only students but also a MAHE alumnus. Faculty mentor of TEDxManipal, Dr. Raghu Radhakrishnan, Director of International Affairs and Collaborations at MAHE, was chosen to be the guest of honour for this enlightening evening. The event was co-hosted and facilitated by team members Sidesh Das, Khushi Prasad, Vaidehi Patel, Swakshi Agarwal, Kashish Miglani, Vani Mittal, and Khushi Agarwal. Kashish Miglani, lead organiser and co-host, kicked off the event by highlighting the power and importance of imagination, allowing us to see things before they happen. Even venerable scientist Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Following this, co-host Sidesh Das explained the core objectives of TED Circles communities, which is a place where people come together in small groups to have insightful conversations about big ideas.
The audience watched an illuminating TED talk by Charles Faulkner, a renowned life coach, motivational speaker, creator, and author on Imagination—It’s Not What You Think. It’s How You Think. Faulkner talks about how deeply embedded the role of imagination is in how we see the world. We don’t realise just how big a chunk of our thought processes involve imagination because it happens at a subconscious level. He gives numerous examples of such situations citing how we tend to amplify certain behaviours of people into character traits based on our prejudices and preconceptions, how we try to create patterns and draw comparisons where there aren’t any, and much more. He explains how imagination is the first step to novel inventions and discoveries, and how we recreate the world in our heads every time we learn something new.
After Faulkner’s stimulating discourse, the audience was divided into five breakout rooms into groups of eight, with a host in each, to enable them to chew over their views and ideas. The hosts encouraged the participants to discuss their key takeaways from the talk, where they provided remarkable insights on how imagination remains the biggest instrument in something as cosmic as innovations and inventions that extend mankind’s knowledge, to something as commonplace as our perception of the world. People also talked about how our imagination is often guided by our past experiences, which can be both a boon and a bane—while prejudices can lead to flawed judgements of people and situations, they also stem from a sense of self-preservation as people tend to avoid situations that they know lead to bitter consequences.
People also discussed how the presence of predictability and certainty in life can channel our imagination into something fruitful, like envisioning a better future, while unpredictability can lead to a rather undesirable version of imagination, i.e., overthinking. The participants had their own exercise in imagination, wherein the host asked them to describe what they think the world would look like in the next hundred years. Two contrasting opinions arose—one of a promising future that offered better healthcare, education, inclusivity, acceptance, openness, and representation, and the other of a vastly misinformed and divided world because of the information overload of the internet era, where the loudest voices subdue the weak.
After forty-five minutes of plenty such rather engaging discussions and debates, the breakout rooms were again integrated and Vani Mittal, organiser, and co-host, gave the Vote of Thanks, following which the guest speaker Dr. Radhakrishnan congratulated TEDxManipal on hosting a successful TED Circles event despite the pandemic, and the very first of its kind. He also thanked Lt. Gen. (Dr.) M.D. Venkatesh, Vice-Chancellor MAHE, for his support towards the platform to empower the exchange of new opinions and ways of thinking. “Organising TED Circles for the first time was an incredible experience. We aimed to spark community connections amongst the Manipal audience, and the entire team was glad to see such a great turnout. Overall, it was an evening filled with inspiring ideas that I am sure changed a lot of perspectives,” said Kashish Miglani, sharing her experience of the evening as a host. Not only did the community emerge as an excellent place to form new circles, but this TED Circles on Imagination also successfully made us conscious of the sheer power of ideas and novelty.
Featured Image Credits: TedXManipal