‘We are all dreamers’: Hope, community engagement focus of TEDxMcAllen event on Tuesday

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The theme of this year’s TEDxMcAllen event came from a Post-it Note that read “dreamers.”

During a meeting months ago with some TEDxMcAllen organizers and a variety of community leaders, Marcos Silva, the curator of the event, said that they were asked to write down the words that came to mind when they thought about the Valley.

One answer stood out.

“We were organizing all the responses into themes, and the one Post-it said ‘dreamers,’” Silva said. “And it hit us that every section we were organizing had somehow been, or is connected to a dreamer.

“We realized that in one way or another, we are all dreamers.”

TEDxMcAllen, which is a subsidiary of TED, which will carry the theme “We are DREAMERS,” is scheduled Tuesday at the Art Village on Main in McAllen.

More than 300 people applied to attend the event, of which only 100 can attend. Under Silva’s TEDx license, he was required to attend an official TED event before hosting a conference with more people.

However, each talk will be broadcasted live on the organization’s Facebook page: TEDxMcAllen. The talks are divided into four blocks of three speakers, with the first block starting at 9:15 a.m.

Selected from a pool of more than 200 speaker applications, 12 were chosen to take the stage. Some speakers include violinist Diana Seitz, disabilities advocate Evelyn Cano and author Shawn Elliot Russell. Border advocate and founder of nonprofit RGV Matters, Sydney Ramon, is the youngest in the line-up.

“I’m really hoping that (from my talk) people take away (that) they don’t need a process, or follow certain steps to achieve their goals,” Ramon,18, said. “When they lead by vision — essentially with their vision at the forefront — they can achieve anything.”

Silva said that the goal of the event is to offer speakers the platform to tell their story, hoping viewers will walk away with a better understanding of how to tackle their own endeavors.

“People with dreams know what the end goal is, but don’t know what the middle part is, and that is what we want our speakers to share: the middle part,” he said. “We know we have the creator of a machine that creates nanofibers 900 times faster, we know that. What we want is for her to share how she got there, and how she made that dream come true.”

Silva is referring to Karen Lozano, a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley mechanical engineering professor who was recently named Engineer of the Year by Great Minds in STEM.

“The beautiful part of TEDx is that it is a global platform,” Silva said. “By joining in the conversation, in person or online, you are joining in on what could potentially be a global conversation. We would like to believe that the Valley and this area helped with the ideas of the speakers, so by default, we all have a connection to their ideas.”

The organizing team is composed of 13 people, and the co-curator of the event is Forrest Sparks.

This is not the first time McAllen has seen a TED event, though. The first TEDxMcAllen took place in 2015, but did not continue, until now.

The goal of TEDxMcAllen, Silva said, is to unite the Rio Grande Valley, and that the action taken after the event is the most crucial part.

“It’s about the effect after, and the effect after will only be carried away by people who are engaged and involved in the event,” he said. “I think that anybody, in person or at home, has the potential to move these ideas forward in different directions.

“We operated with the idea that we were doing this to put this place on the map, and it was not about a bigger focus other than our own people.”