1. My escape from North Korea – Hyeonseo Lee
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was “the best on the planet.” It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope — and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thoght her country was the “best on the planet.” It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 17-years-old to begin a life in hiding as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope — and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.
2. How my mind came back to life — and no one knew – Martin Pistorius
Imagine being unable to say, “I am hungry,” “I am in pain,” “thank you,” or “I love you,” — losing your ability to communicate, being trapped inside your body, surrounded by people yet utterly alone. For 13 long years, that was Martin Pistorius’s reality. After contracting a brain infection at the age of twelve, Pistorius lost his ability to control his movements and to speak, and eventually he failed every test for mental awareness. He had become a ghost. But then a strange thing started to happen — his mind began to knit itself back together. In this moving talk, Pistorius tells how he freed himself from a life locked inside his own body.
At age 12, Martin Pistorius fell into a coma, and spent 13 years locked inside his body, unable to communicate — until a caregiver noticed his eyes responded to her. His book “Ghost Boy” tells his story.
3. How I stopped the Taliban from shutting down my school– Sakena Yacoobi
When the Taliban closed all the girls’ schools in Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi set up new schools, in secret, educating thousands of women and men. In this fierce, funny talk, she tells the jaw-dropping story of two times when she was threatened to stop teaching — and shares her vision for rebuilding her beloved country.
At the Afghan Institute of Learning, Sakena Yacoobi provides teacher training to Afghan women, supporting education for girls and boys throughout the country.
4. How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are – Andrew Solomon
Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he’s met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.
Andrew Solomon is a writer on politics, culture and psychology.
5. How I learned to communicate my inner life with Asperger’s – Alix Generous
Alix Generous is a young woman with a million and one ideas — she’s done award-winning science, helped develop new technology and tells a darn good joke (you’ll see). She has Asperger’s, a form of autistic spectrum disorder that can impair the basic social skills required for communication, and she’s worked hard for years to learn how to share her thoughts with the world. In this funny, personal talk, she shares her story — and her vision for tools to help more people communicate their big ideas.
Alix Generous is a college student and biology researcher with Asperger syndrome. She stresses the importance of building accepting environments for all kinds of minds.
6. I survived a terrorist attack. Here’s what I learned – Gill Hicks
Gill Hicks’s story is one of compassion and humanity, emerging from the ashes of chaos and hate. A survivor of the London terrorist bombings on July 7, 2005, she shares her story of the events of that day — and the profound lessons that came as she learned how to live on.
Gill Hicks has dedicated her life to being an advocate for peace.
7. Why I must come out – Geena Rocero
When fashion model Geena Rocero first saw a photo of herself in a bikini, “I thought … you have arrived!” As she reveals, that’s because she was born with the gender assignment “boy.” In this moving talk, Rocero tells the story of becoming who she always knew she was.
Geena Rocero is a professional model for fashion and beauty companies around the world. And she uses her platform to share a powerful story.
8. The gospel of doubt – Casey Gerald
What do you do when your firmly held beliefs turn out not to be true? When Casey Gerald’s religion failed him, he searched for something new to believe in — in business, in government, in philanthropy — but found only false saviors. In this moving talk, Gerald urges us all to question our beliefs and embrace uncertainty.
Casey Gerald chronicles the current state of the American Dream and explores ways to sustain it for a new generation.