Playlist: Stories of survival from the TED2013 Talent Search

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Amsterdam, Bangalore, Doha, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Tunis and Vancouver. TED headed to 14 cities on six continents for the 2013 Talent Search, looking to bring you fresh perspectives for TED2013. Despite the fact that the 293 speakers who participated in the search came from wildly different backgrounds, we couldn’t help but notice some themes emerge in their talks. Here, their moving tales of survival.

Vanessa Berlowitz: How to survive filming extreme nature documentaries
Producer Vanessa Berlowitz has spent 22 years making wildlife films for the BBC. She’s camped out in a live volcano and traveled frequently to polar regions, where you can throw a cup of boiling water in the air and have it freeze before hitting the ground. She gives tips on making it through both, as well as for avoiding bear attacks.

Rupinder Bains: Living with Crohn’s disease
In 2011, Rupinder Bains was supposed to die. While she started out her hospital stay being concerned about missing spring break, she had soon had 10 surgeries and whittled down to 74 pounds. In this powerful talk, she reveals had a radical surgery led her to remission.

Hyeonseo Lee: Escaping North Korea
Hyeonseo Lee calls growing up in North Korea like living “in a virtual prison.” She recalls witnessing her first public execution and beginning to doubt her government, before deciding to leave in 2008. In this talk, she describes the difficult journey to China and eventually to South Korea.

Eleanor Longden: Learning from the voices in my head
When Eleanor Longden headed to college, someone joined her—a voice in her head, narrating her life in third person. She explains how she fought the voices, and a system ready to write her off as “crazy,” to get back her sense of self-worth … as well as a Masters in psychology.

Sarath Champati: Eye to eye with wild animals
Ecotourism enthusiast Sarath Champati recalls coming face to a face with a wild tiger, and soon after with a wild Sambar deer. Instead of getting eaten alive, it sparked what Champati calls a “25-year love affair with wild animals.”

Rosie Garthwaite: How to survive in a war zone
Former British Army officer Rosie Garthwaite saw her future as a journalist and headed to Iraq in 2003. She quickly learned that missteps could get herself and members of her team killed. In this talk, she gives away knowledge she’s learned about staying safe in war zones, as well as tips gleaned from a Somali pirate and a hostage negotiator.

Lee Swan: What I lost on the way to the North Pole
Chocoholic Lee Swan took part in the Polar Race, becoming the first South African woman to make it to the magnetic North Pole. She explains how she navigated her way through the 650 kilometer race … and won.

Ana Maria Saad: My story of mental illness and awareness
A filmmaker, producer and screenwriter, Ana Marie Saad recalls falling into deep depression as a result of being sexually abused. She explains how meditation helped her through, and how she started an NGO to help lessen the stigma of mental disorders.

Richard Turere: My invention that outsmarted lions
Richard Turere, now 13, has been tasked since age 9 with keeping his family’s cattle safe. While he calls lions “my enemy,” he knew that he would never be able to take one on in a hand-to-paw fight. And so he created a brilliant light system that scares the animals away.

Stayed tuned for more playlists from the TED Talent Search, coming at you over the next month.