“Finish your TED talk, head straight to the airport, land in Seattle & check into hotel in Bellevue, practice your presentation a few times, sleep, wake up for breakfast with Teresa, give the MVP Summit talk, get dinner with Justin & Teresa, and finally, hop on the plane back to Vancouver at 5am for work at 9am.” That was what I kept iterating to myself over and over again in the past month. Yet, the second I stepped on that stage, all I can think about was how lucky I am to be able to stand exactly where I was.
I spent the whole month of February in rehearsals for TEDxUBC— my talk was on Hacking the Glass Ceiling with Neopets. I like to describe the talk as a “That’s what you missed on Glee” version of my life, which for a long time revolved around the virtual pets online game, Neopets. I thought it would be a fun snippet to share because looking back, that game and the people I met through it are the reasons I’m studying Computer Science today. I also bring up topics like open-source software and most importantly, the strengths of diversity and representation along the way. It felt uncomfortable at times sharing moments of my life where I struggled a lot, but at the end of the day, aren’t moments like those the ones that build ideas worth sharing?
So I stormed into UBC on a Saturday with the crew of speakers I’ve made friends with over the past month, and I was in awe of how far all of our talks have come. My thoughts that only existed on little scraps of paper 1 month prior now became a TEDx talk in front of an audience of 500. You can watch the full video of the talk on YouTube. If you’re ever debating speaking at a TED event, let it be known that it’ll be one of the most challenging, yet, rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. So you should just do it. But really, we were debriefing after our talks, and everyone was talking about how they’ve skipped school the past week just to prepare for this. Think: a roller coaster ride that went on for over a month, and finally getting off of it. As soon as I got off that ride, I boarded the flight to Seattle for the MVP Summit.
I was invited to speak about Engaging with Student Developers (I presented right after Scott Hanselman on the same stage, my inner fangirl is still not over it) at the summit. Kairui, a fellow student from UC Berkeley and I took the stage together, but let’s not forget everyone who worked so hard backstage— huge thank you to everyone who helped us with the presentation, it may or may not have taken us 5+ tries to finally get the content cleared. Teresa, Justin and Susan not only invited us to speak at the event, but also gave us the opportunity to live like princesses for the days we were there. Molly accommodated our request for a mic check before our presentation— a giveaway that we were amateurs but it also made us feel 10x more confident during the presentation, so thank you! And lastly, shoutout to my boy Kairui who went to the drugstore with me at 1am because I realized I forgot my entire makeup bag at home, and for calming me down about the presentation throughout the past couple of months. The talk went surprisingly well, and we received lots of questions after the session, which means the content must have somehow resonated with them!!! We also got millennial :hearteyes: 😍 as our Twitter feeds were flooded with support from the incredible crowd. We wrapped up our night up by grabbing yet another delicious meal at the Lakehouse with Teresa and Justin. My tummy was filled and so was my heart.
So there we have it! I can finally go to sleep without feeling the need to rehearse just “one last time”, and maybe, I can even relive all of this in my dreams.