My name is Julius A. Akuffo and I recently completed a postgraduate degree in Digital Media and Society from the University of Leicester. As an international student with no work experience in the UK, career coaches highly recommend students to engage in a volunteering position or apply for an internship to gain work experience in a much more relaxing manner. So I heeded to expert advice and it paid off – no two ways about that.
I received an email from the University of Leicester student services — who are sponsors and partners of TEDxLeicester, inviting students to volunteer for an upcoming conference on September 7. I did not hesitate to apply as I had watched TED Talks and TEDx events whilst in my homeland; Ghana, and this was a great opportunity to be part of a global brand that is changing the world with ideas and inspirational talks.
I met Carl, with whom I’d been communicating via email during our first meet-up. Carl co-organised our last conference in September and has been a great coach and guide to help me think through problems and identify solutions for my business. It was simply incredible to actually be part of a TEDx team experience – seeing how the whole event unfolded to executing a successful and enjoyable conference together.
The theme for the TEDxLeicester Conference was #FASTFORWARD and it was very exciting to be part of the marketing team. I worked with a great team of volunteers from the University; Vatsalya, Sama, and Elpida who have become my new lifelong friends. I have been inspired and joined the world of entrepreneurship with Domingo, who has now become my Business Partner, in our start-up venture Uni Cycle Solutions. However, what was even more valuable was that I also became part of the local community and met other volunteers who are students at other Universities and also local entrepreneurs.
It was really exciting to be part of the mastermind behind the design, marketing and speakers’ announcement with Carl, Mouna, Vatsalya, Parth, Sama, and Nimish. I even spent time with Vijay and Paul; who is a former event planner and logistics manager respectively; both are awesome and show they love what they do by doing it so well.
It was great to be part of the team led by Siddhi Trivedi; Curator and License holder of TEDxLeicester. Siddhi is awesome. She is a passionate leader who inspires action and delivers guidance in its purest form. Siddhi is good at identifying individuals and assigning them to their best roles.
On Saturday, September 7th, I was able to see the full efforts of my volunteering at The Y Theatre; Leicester’s oldest surviving theatre. We had a full house, all tickets were sold out and I was able to create a buzz and sense of excitement on Social Media. It was great to be recognized on stage for my contribution. I was able to stand on the magical red circle and it was an honor. I enjoyed seeing the impact of our work and working with my newly made friends.
I enjoyed all our talks but my favourite TEDxLeicester talks were Sophie Hainsworth’s ‘Living Without Answers‘ and Dr Jessica Ocampos’ ‘Inclusive Innovation Starts From Within‘. Both talks really resonated well with me.
Sophie’s talk inspired me to persevere as an aspiring young entrepreneur and Jessica’s talk reassured me of my commitment to help bridge the educational gap between developed and developing nations as it was the main theme for my final project at Uni.
I have learned so much from this experience. This includes learning the value of teamwork, and how like a jigsaw puzzle, each person is an important piece of the action. I have also learned that when you do what you enjoy, it’s no longer work but just fun. But the most important lesson i have learned is that when you work with people who share the same value as yours, you can create magic.
#FastForward was a day to remember, I experienced what was probably my best moment in Leicester yet. If you missed the event, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn @TEDxLeicester to keep posted about our next events and updates as we get ready for our TEDxLeicester Women conference this December.
I personally invite you to join us for our TEDxLeicester Women Conference this December to enjoy a full day of inspiring talks that will spark conversations with each other and our speakers. You will also be able to immerse yourself in activities and performances produced by talented students from the Gateway College.
TEDxLeicester Women will be focusing on strong minds and voices ranging from the outspoken to the innovator all committed to breaking down stereotypes and myths. We are celebrating the #bold, the #brilliant and those who are just getting started.
Come and engage in inspiring discussions, make lifelong friends with whom you can share ideas, collaborate and have fun with. We are a team who make magic!