The TEDxSugarLand event helps spread big ideas and elevate inspired citizenship in the Houston area. For the third year, the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center hosted this event in October, on the theme, “Local Ideas, Global Influence.” 

Speakers with diverse backgrounds were invited to share their stories on how their ideas and passions have made a global impact. Whether it was a former graffiti artist turned world-renowned muralist, or a teenager finding the silver lining of navigating ALS in her home, or even a former MMA cage-fighter speaking about how to confront fear, speakers of all ages and backgrounds divulged how their experiences and ideas can have a positive impact on others. With over 200 individuals watching via live stream, the speakers demonstrated how the very technology that seemingly rules our private worlds provided them a platform to share their stories across continents.

Leslie Marchand, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Life Coach, was thrilled to share her story for the first time on this platform. She provides coaching and support on wellness for caregivers, who have to meet the demands of daily life along with providing support to a loved one, leaving very little time for self-care.

Leslie noted, “Events like this, the advent of the internet and being able to provide inspiration and education through these types of venues really makes a difference for people like caregivers.”

Others, such as Kevin Doffing, CEO of Lonestar Veterans Association, used TEDx to further support the goals of building communities of people with shared backgrounds and interests across state lines. After serving in the army, Kevin was looking to join the business world and was searching for a veteran group that shared similar interests and could support him in his endeavor. Despite the hundreds of organizations operating in Texas, he still found a lack of community and encouragement within these organizations, which led him to create the Lonestar Veterans Association.

“The TED and TEDx brands add significance and validation,” said Kevin, and added, “I’m excited to have this opportunity and to share something significant and easily understood that we can handout - not physically, but communicatively and ideologically, that this is how you build community, and this is why it matters.”

TEDx also served as a reminder that while ‘millennials’ and ‘Gen X’ are glued to their devices, they can have a significant impact on the world with a few clicks of a button.

Fourteen-year-old Maya Tharoo flew all the way from Orlando to share what youth philanthropy is and why it matters in today’s society. Maya’s first few months of life were spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Arnold Palmer Hospital in Florida, but she’s grown into a role model for even the adults in any room she’s in. At the age of nine, she founded Miracle Makers Foundation, whose goal is to support premature babies and their families globally.

When asked about how she felt about making such an impact and being able to share on a platform like TEDx, Maya stated, “I was so young when I started volunteering, so I don’t really think I knew the impact it was going to make, but I’m just really glad that I got to where I am today.”

While the speakers may have been the focal point of the event, the venue did not go unnoticed and several guests participated in touring the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center. President of the Southwest Council for the United States, Murad Ajani, shared that the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center was built with the vision of being a place for cultural awareness and the exchange of knowledge. “We are proud of the role and potential that this Center has in advancing the pursuit of learning and building trust across all communities that call Texas home,” said President Ajani.

Learn more about TEDxSugarLand and view the videos from the 2018 event here.