TEDxYouth speakers talk about ‘failing better’


DOHA THE TEDxYouth@Doha event held at the Virginia Commonwealth University - Qatar (VCUQ) on Saturday showcased 17 young speakers who delivered inspiring talks on the theme ‘fail better’, and shared their experiences in attaining success after overcoming repeated failures and struggles through perseverance.

The event was held as part of the UN Universal Children’s Day which is celebrated around the world on November 20.

This year, Qatar joined more than 100 cities which have been celebrating the day for the past two years by hosting TEDxYouth events.

During the programme, 19- year-old Tejas Kumar, a web developer, talked about overcoming his lifelong illness.

Born with haemophilia, Kumar grew up being called a blue moon kid at school. Due to his fragile health condition, he could only spend around 45 days at school in a whole year. But he chose not to live in self-pity.

He invested his free time in developing his newfound passion - webmaking.

In 2008, he won the Qatar University website contest and was granted full scholarship for a Bachelor of Science degree.

He said, “All of us struggle with something. It could be money, intellect, popularity, etc. We’re all going to struggle and life is not going to be easy. But here’s my radical idea, let’s struggle well and let’s make it worthwhile. Let’s learn from it. You may not succeed or win instantly and things may be hard, but let’s push through”.

Farrah Abu-Shaban, a student at American School of Doha, has always dreamt of having her artworks published.

In 2003, she joined a drawing contest launched by a local daily in hopes that she would finally fulfil her dream.

Four months after, she still never realised her dream. In 2009, she joined an international drawing competition on the king of pop Michael Jackson.

Her drawing made it to the final 20 out of the 200,000 other contestants.

Talking to the audience, she said, “The saying that success is a journey and not an outcome is true. It comes through multiple attempts.

And in trying, what was developed was more than skill, but my perseverance.” Al Jazeera reporter Bilal Renderee, also spoke about his own journey, and touched upon his personal and professional adventures. He said, “We eventually decided on the title ‘A series of (un)fortunate events’, with brackets being used to indicate that you never really know if an experience will be negative or positive until you see the repercussions from it.

“The theme ‘fail better’ runs through my whole talk. Every step of the way, things happened that could have led to major failures, but ultimately things turned out very differently”.

Around 500 visitors attended the event which also featured photo booths and a community art project that let the young audience think up their own fails and write them on a series of x-shapes to embrace the theme of ‘fail better’.

Head of Communications Florent D’Souza said, “This is a culmination of months of hard work, preparation, and planning. We will still be doing workshops and more over the next 12 months to engage young people in this country. Qatar is growing and changing rapidly, it is important we develop a generation of future leaders and thinkers. We hope that TEDxYouth@Doha can contribute to that need in some way”.

Other speakers at the event also spoke about preserving the Arabic language, overcoming stereotypes faced by women in the Gulf, re-imagining gadgets, genes and mutations, and basic life support training among others

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