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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Home the theme of this year’s TEDxUNC

UNC Bhangra Elite is a competitive Indian folk dance team founded in 1996. Through the means of high energy, traditional dance, they strive to promote and educate the UNC community about Punjabi culture. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

UNC Bhangra Elite is a competitive Indian folk dance team founded in 1996. Through the means of high energy, traditional dance, they strive to promote and educate the UNC community about Punjabi culture.
Photo by Jon Gardiner.

More than 500 members of the Carolina community attended the sixth annual TEDxUNC on April 2 in Memorial Hall.

This year’s conference theme – home – covered four topics: roots, boroughs, society and humanity.

“One of the reasons we chose the topic of home is because everyone’s idea of home is different,” said Kevin Parham, co-curator of TEDxUNC. “The theme creates an atmosphere where the community can talk about things they have in common and share experiences that other people might not have.”

TEDxUNC is the student-run conference that is an affiliate of TED, a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short talks.

Cecilia Polanco, a 2016 graduate and owner of So Good Pupusas food truck, spoke about the significance of hogar, the Spanish word for home, and how it represents her family’s journey from El Salvador to North Carolina.

“Home means where you live, somewhere where you feel secure, safe or comfortable, somewhere where you belong and where you feel calm,” Polanco said in both English and Spanish.

Lina Sergie Attar, a Syrian American writer and architect from Aleppo, also spoke about the effects of homelessness on Syrian refugee children and her efforts to create a space where refugee children could gain skills and confidence with cutting-edge technology and resources. This space is called the Giving House.

The 11 speakers addressed a range of issues, including community empowerment, immigration, digital culture, gender identity and globalization.

Saad Khan, co-curator of TEDxUNC, said it is an important life skill to be able to “have tough conversations and challenge your own personal status quo.” “We are in a unique situation in college where you are grouped with people from all different walks of life, and TEDxUNC is a cool and unique way to share these experiences with one another and learn from one another,” Khan said.