From volunteer to TEDxZurich associate – Willow Rose Gahm

To me, TED Talks are about sharing a person’s story. They promote understanding. They are a powerful way of dissolving barriers by creating a new understanding on a topic and within yourself, which promotes connection.  Certain talks remain in my mind for a long time, and the more I ponder them the more I take them around with me as a story that begins to alter and influence my beliefs and perceptions on that topic.  For certain individuals, certain talks can be priceless.  This spark I found in the TED and TEDx Talks is why I had decided to volunteer in the first place. They’ve always been something that I would look to when I wanted a new insight or a new piece of information. They have a way of really touching the listener and after watching I often feel more inspired and energized.

It was a great idea to volunteer as I has suspected. I was a bit nervous at first to meet all the people, but predominantly excited. The day of the first meeting arrived fast. I caught a glimpse at preparational evening into the type of people and atmosphere of the ‘behind scenes’ of TEDxZurich and I was only looking forward more to the day. I collected my t-shirt and went home excited for the actual event.

On the day of the event, I arrived early. It was rather cold and after we had collected our badges the tempo of the day sped up incredibly fast. They explained to us our roles and off we went. Tai Chi in the morning, serving meals at lunch and helping with guests and snacks in the afternoon. The whole day went by really fast. It was a great experience. During the day, I met many people. Exchanged some numbers and had some good conversations while being able to sporadically listen in on some of the Talks.

Little did I know some of these contacts would stick. Now a year goes by and I still have contact with many of those I met that day. 2017 has now rolled around and they asked me to be an associate to the core team. Now I get to work a bit closer and be more involved in this great event and be part of these talks that are inspiring so many people.  I highly recommend you also take the chance to volunteer. It is really a memorable experience.

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Sarah Ebling

          Sarah Ebling holds a professorship in Accessibility Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and is a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on natural language processing in the context of disabilities and special needs, specifically, sign language technology and automatic text simplification. Her groups’ contributions involve artificial intelligence techniques with a strong emphasis on user involvement. She is involved in various international and national projects and leads a large-scale Swiss innovation initiative entitled „Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies“ (2022-2026;