The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

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The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Senior to lead TEDx talk

Marwa Eltahir gives talk on Nov. 17 in Washington D.C.
Marwa Eltahir gives talk on Nov. 17 in Washington D.C.

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Gordon Brown are just a few of the many innovators who have had the opportunity to give a prestigious TED talk to a room full of eager listeners. This month, however, AHS senior Marwa Eltahir will appear on this lengthy list of big names as part of a branch of TED: TEDx.

TEDx talks are extensive lectures that are usually given by scholars: experts in their field of knowledge. The discussions are mainly centered around social and global issues, bringing awareness to the topics presented and educating the public in a comprehensive way. These talks are livestreamed through the TEDx website worldwide and are used as teaching tools in classrooms internationally.

Eltahir received the opportunity to give an eight minute lecture on the topic of the Referendum between Northern and Southern Sudan through the non-profit organization One World Education in Washington, D.C. In March, Eltahir was one of hundreds of students from around the D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland areas to submit a reflection to the organization arguing the conflict of her choice.

“The topic could have been about anything, but I chose Sudan because [the topic] directly affects me since my whole family, besides from me and my mother, live there and have for generations,” Eltahir said. “My dad works with a big oil company there, but because there are better opportunities in this country, I attend school here.”

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After One World reviewed the applications, 12 student ambassadors were chosen, Eltahir among them. Throughout the summer, One World worked with Eltahir to create a curriculum of the history of the Referendum in Sudan to present to students in D.C.-based high schools, using her reflection as a guide.

”It’s a lot easier to relate to a topic when it’s student-written and analyzed versus out of a textbook,” Eltahir said.

When TEDx contacted One World asking for student selectees to give youth talks, Eltahir was one of their six choices.

“TEDx contacted them [One World Education], first only for D.C. students, but the CEO of One World, Eric Goldstein, who is awesome, advocated for Northern VA students to be included as well,” Eltahir said.

Ever since, Eltahir has been preparing for her very own lecture, which will be held in the Gala Theater in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 17 as part of the Youth TEDx Talk conference from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“I’m still in the process of drafting my own talk,” Eltahir said. “I’m drawing a lot of my ideas from my original One World reflection and will be discussing such things as possible solutions to the problems in Sudan.”

Eltahir goes on to explain that there are several conflicts which she will be discussing in her lecture that have justified splitting the northern and southern regions of Sudan into two different countries: Sudan North and the Republic of Southern Sudan. One of the problems is the cultural context of each region: the North is ethnically tied to the Middle East’s Islam religion and the South is tied to Christianity. This has caused many cultural misunderstandings between the two regions.

Another major problem is the economic tension between both regions, mainly revolving around the oil industry. Most of the oil in the country is found in the southern region of Sudan while most of the manufacturers are found in the North, where the government functions.

“There is still a lot of animosity and misunderstanding between them [the two countries],” Eltahir said. “I’m a northerner, so I’m obviously a little biased, but I think there should be more mediations between both nations, the UN playing a big part in that, and the presidents and governments need to have a more open mind to working with each other’s policies.”

Eltahir says she hopes this experience with TEDx will help open doors in her pursuit of a career in international relations or global affairs, allowing her to enter into the fields of conflict resolution and diplomacy. Eltahir hopes that this career might allow her to visit Sudan in the future and work with government officials there.

“I used to visit [Sudan] when I was younger, but it has still been too hard to visit with the turmoils of the war that have been appearing off and on for the past forty years,” Eltahir said. “I hope to physically travel there in my career.”

Though Eltahir’s TEDx talk is an invitation-only event, she will be reading her essay aloud in Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. at 1 p.m., directly after she finishes her TEDx talk. Visiting the bookstore and listening to Eltahir is free and open to the public, so she strongly encourages everyone to come.

“Mr. Hawes is coming to the TED talk, but everyone can come to the reading at Politics and Prose,” Eltahir said.

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Senior to lead TEDx talk