Yesterday, Afghanistan got its very first TED experience with TEDxKabul, which brought together 250 people for a day of ideas, innovations and hope in the war-torn city. Themed “The Art of the Unexpected,” the lineup of speakers was 75% Afghan, with about half the talks in English and half in Dari — and simultaneous translations for both via headsets.
“When we think about innovation, we typically think of a one-way flow of ideas — from West to East, from North to South, and from developed world to developing world. However, as the increasing number of far-flung, volunteer-run TEDx events reminds us, ‘ideas worth spreading’ are also worth spreading from places that might be considered to be on the very fringe. At this week’s TEDxKabul — the first-ever TEDx event in Afghanistan — a mix of human rights activists, entrepreneurs, artists and technology visionaries described the types of innovation that a still-proud nation hopes to share with the world.”
Some of the highlights of the day included: a 14-year-old working hard to support her family while also learning to skateboard; a psychologist who was passionate about the need for education reform in Afghanistan; the film-maker who made the movie Buzkashi Boys; and Ashraf Ghani, the politician who was a key figure in rebuilding the country after the fall of the Taliban.
TED’s Chris Anderson was also a surprise speaker. Afterward he tweeted, “Thrilling day at #TEDxKabul. My 1st trip back to Afghanistan in 38 years. Huge challenges. But I was inspired by many people here.”