#TEDxUNIC: experiencing the UNBELIEVABLE in Cyprus

#TEDxUNIC: experiencing the UNBELIEVABLE in Cyprus

Today I am taking you to Cyprus again. This time I want you to “travel” to the TEDx event organized by a University I graduated from- the University of Nicosia. The event’s theme was UNBELIEVABLE and I hope to share with you a taste of that powerful and inspiring feeling I have got after attending the event.

Photo source: TEDx University of Nicosia

I am writing this while listening to the song “Beautiful People” by Ed Sheeran which is about remaining true to yourself and not trying to fit into a crowd of those so-called “beautiful” human beings obsessed with material things. TEDxUNIC speakers with their unbelievable stories reminded me that we are all complete, unique individuals capable of achieving anything we believe in. Here are some of the stories I want to share.

I will survive

I bought my ticket to TEDxUNIC a few months ago without even reading a program since I knew my friend John Zacharias Theophanous is going to be one of the speakers. His story “I will survive” reveals an extremely difficult journey of John who has lost all of his family, tried to take his own life, faced a lot of difficulties because of being openly gay, but has found the way to deal with everything and get his show going on. I feel extremely proud and lucky to know this incredibly smart and brave individual.

“In my life, with its ups and its downs, I came to learn one important lesson. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person or you can allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” John Zacharias Theophanous

Photo source: TEDx University of Nicosia

Making a difference through passion

As I mentioned above, I wasn’t familiar with a program for the event. When Muhammed Muheisen, a world-renowned, a National Geographic photographer appeared on a stage, I was enjoyably surprised. I have been following him on Instagram for a while because the images he takes are touching the deepest corners of hearts and souls. Muhammed captures refugees, people caught in the middle of the war conflicts. Most of his work is focused on children, which are “true victims of war”.

As Muhammed said himself: “If something happened and was never documented, it never occurred.” He makes sure to tell stories of those whose voices can never be truly heard. At one point he felt that it is not enough being just a messenger and decided to make a difference through his passion-photography. Everyday Refugees Foundation is a charity project which aims at documenting, educating, empowering and helping refugees and internally displaced people by war, poverty, natural disasters and discrimination.

The stories Muhammed told accompanied with breathtaking images brought tears in the eyes of the audience and there is no surprise that he left the stage under a standing ovation.

“Nobody leaves their home unless they are forced to leave their home, and that’s what I try to show in my images.” Muhammed Muheisen

Photo source: TEDx University of Nicosia

Breaking stereotypes

When a man runs a marathon with one kidney after becoming a compatible donor for his mom (Nicolas Miltiadous), when a woman with diastrophic dysplasia (a form of dwarfism) looks so energetic, positive, funny and full of life (Tanyalee Davis), you realize how misinformed or full of stereotypes you are. Moreover, you will definitely think twice the next time you bring up an excuse.

Do “we let our minds play their own game throwing us off guard and changing our perception of the reality”? I am still searching for an answer to the question asked by Dimitris Kokkoris, a host of TEDxUniversityofNicosia. “Why is it totally OK for us to share hugs and talk to strangers inside TEDxUNIC event room but we will think twice doing it outside”? Is it fear? Lack of trust? Why traveling solo or visiting a cinema alone can be considered strange by many? STEREOTYPES are the ones to blame.

After attending events like this (and traveling of course), at least some of those stereotypes are turned into dust.

I always keep saying that I still believe in HUMANITY. Yes, we are guilty of the most horrible things happening on Earth but at the same time, we are also the ones that can fix it. It is up to us where do we choose to stand.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.