December 6, 2022

NYU Faculty Speak From Across the Globe at the TEDXNYUShanghai Salon about the Importance of Human Connectivity – We All Need it

By Morgan La Motta

Global collaboration has become and will continue to be, quintessential in expanding one’s perspectives, ideas, and horizons. At the recent TedxNYUShanghai Salon, faculty speakers from the NYU School of Professional Studies (SPS) and NYU Shanghai were invited to present a live TEDxTalk enlightening perspectives on the overall theme of the essential and nonessential aspects of life, including universal communication ‘frameworks’ that work across cultures, the benefits of a nonessential mindset, and the merits of new AR/VR technologies.

Students looking at speaker
Professor Ian Zhang in front of TED letters
NYU Shanghai (China)

Just think: why should we focus on nonessentials throughout our busy, schedule-stacked lives? Seraphim Wu, Vice President of TEDxNYUShanghai, notes, “We often turn a blind eye to the nonessential, intentionally or unintentionally. However, there's sometimes a moment in our life when we pause, slow down, and realize the essentials of the nonessential.”

Global collaboration was a unique and essential aspect that helped inform this event, with the student team at NYU Shanghai in China and the NYUSPS Professional Management Student Network (PMSN) in NYC helping facilitate the salon. The speakers and the audience members had the joy of integrating diverse cultural perspectives and knowledge, seeing the world through the eyes of others, collaborating multiculturally on an established platform, and essentially molding as one globalized cohort. NYU Shanghai student and Event Curator Elise Tucker commented, “The event truly demonstrated the significance of intercultural collaboration across diverse regions and cultures.”

NYUSPS Prof. Raúl Sánchez & Prof. Dan Bullock
NYUSPS Prof. Raúl Sánchez & Prof. Dan Bullock

Innovative ideas were sparked and risks were taken, as event speaker and award-winning NYU SPS Professor Raúl Sánchez stated, “We’re called to redefine our notion of bravery in the globalized era, going beyond thinking of bravery as output – which is what we express or reveal to the world. Being brave is also about input – what we take in, such as new experiences and new cultural connections. Each time we take risks and step outside of our comfort zone, we find a bigger world – until one day, the world becomes our comfort zone.” This TEDxNYUShanghai event certainly enlightened others, as well as instilled the importance of the “essential” element of human connectivity in a post-pandemic era with the goal of connecting even more deeply as one human society.

In terms of basic necessities, human essentials include food, clothing, and shelter, all of which speaker and NYU Shanghai Professor Emily Chang selflessly provided to others in need by offering a temporary home within her family’s spare room. Through Emily’s meaningful storytelling, it was apparent that these orphans needed two essentials: support and human connection.  As Chang notes, "The most exciting part of the event was engaging at a deeper and broader level” while sharing how adopting the nonessential mindset enables us to realize what is truly essential and “‘shift from surviving to thriving’–from simply doing to engaging–and from ‘getting through the day’ to living in abundance and joy.”

The TEDxNYUShanghai Salon was the prime instance where meaningful cultural exchange led to impactful global communication. Attendees witnessed a worldly microcosm through various cultural lenses while igniting and inspiring innovative ideas and conversations. As a speaker, NYUSPS Professor Dan Bullock remarked, “This global salon was the quintessential ‘kaleidoscope of cultures’ in real-time collaboration—this experience across geographic regions uniquely ‘framed’ an open canvas where everyone brought their own inspiration to enact positive change, with ideas traversing more than 7,000 miles across the globe.” 

NYU Shanghai Professor Ian Zhang
NYU Shanghai Professor Ian Zhang

This event not only shed light on how vital it is to tap into the broad spectrum of human connectivity around the world, but it also opened our eyes to how well-versed and talented the NYU student body is, as demonstrated by speaker and Clinical Instructor at Interactive Media Art, NYU Shanghai Ian Zhang. Professor Zhang shared with the audience a unique, immersive project revolving around the NYU Shanghai campus using gaming and augmented reality.  Students involved in the project had the chance to connect with the audience during a very inquisitive Q&A session at the end of the event, thus opening the door to additional perspectives and considerations. Adriana Gímenez, NYU Shanghai student and Event Curator, stated that the student feedback was very positive, adding: “I hope students took many takeaways and had the chance to reflect on their own nonessentials.”

zoom meeting on projector screen
over shoulder view of student of speaker

One essential takeaway for the future remains our human craving for connectivity.  We all need it to create more meaningful relationships with one another and a better world. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that brings people together to share a TED-like experience. 

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