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Sep 27, 2016

Aruba hosts successful 2nd edition of TEDxAruba

Aruba hosts successful 2nd edition of TEDxAruba

On September 23rd 2016, the second edition of TEDxAruba was held at the Cas di Cultura in Oranjestad, with this year’s theme centered around the question of “What if…?”

Article by Jennifer Richardson, Aruba Tourism Authority 

This theme inspired questions in the realms of technology, education and design as well as innovative answers. Speakers ranged from a Susan Piver, a New York Times best-selling author, who’s message conveyed the importance of mediation for the modern world; an Andrea Sanders, the director and founder of Be Zero, lobbying for zero-waste households, to Indra Zaandam, culture enthusiast and advisor to the Ministry of Tourism of Aruba, who discussed the possibility of putting culture first, highlighting the importance of locals promoting cultural excellence. During the event it was also announced that TEDxAruba won a Business, Innovation and Creativity Award, issued by OCTA Innovation.

TEDx offers an impressive list of international and local speakers in the areas of technology, education and design that will meet to share their concepts of sustainability.

Speaker Highlights 

The first speaker of the day was Aruban windsurfing treasure, Sarah-Quita Offringa. Her talk was titled: What if it takes a village to make a Sarah-Quita? She explained how it actually took 3 ‘villages’ to help mold her in to the success that she is today. The Aruban community, her community in the Netherlands, and the people she met on her international journey. An important message that she wanted to give to parents was to “keep raising talents”. Clearly her talk resonated with the room, because she received an overwhelming applause!

Sarah-Quita Offringa

Next, Arthur Woods got on stage to ask the question: “What if we all had superpowers?” Arthur is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and advisor. During his talk, he highlighted the very familiar feeling of purposelessness while on the job. He also reminded everyone that we do not have to accept that lack of purpose. We decide whether we grow up to be professionals or superheroes. He really drove his point home by ripping open his shirt and revealing that he had already earned his very own superhero emblem!

Arthur Woods

Andrea Sanders, the director and founder of Be Zero, was up next, and she was very eager to start talking trash! “What if we refuse trash?” was the theme of her talk. Andrea and her husband are living proof of that what may seem impossible and idealistic, is indeed possible and very inspirational. They waste very little by buying smart and making use of reusable products. They do not subscribe to the idea of planned obsolescence in a throwaway society, and want to inspire the world to do the same. When Andrea showed the small amount of waste she and her husband produced since January of 2016, the crowed was in awe!

Andrea Sanders

Rosabelle Illes visited the streets of Oranjestad and asked: “What if we were immortal?” There were some interesting responses, some deep, some comical!

Rosabelle Illes

The very talented Levi Silvanie “the singer-songwriter of sunshine soul” from our neighbor island CuraÒ«ao took us to a calm place with his soulful performance accompanied by local talent Sergio Jansen.

Levi Silvanie and local Serghio Jansen performing during break time Levi Silvanie & Sergio Jansen

Christo Nel proposed the following question: “What if power, anxiety and love are the key to leadership?” If anyone would know the answer to this, it would be Chisto with his lifelong experience in entrepreneurship and change leadership. It may sound preposterous to some, but he very eloquently explained that the three virtues, power, love, and anxiety, all depend on each other to promote effective leadership.

Guest speaker Christo Nel during the TEDx presentation
topic:– What if power, anxiety and love are the key to leadership Christo Nel

The story of Andy Kirchner was both heartbreaking and eye opening: “Life after death. What if...?” A horrible scuba diving accident took the life of his love, and left him paralyzed from the waist down. Andy’s neurologist told him he would never walk again, but Andy’s mind would not let him give up on himself. He explained how his hardships motivated him to start 2ndLife Curaçao, a company that brings individuals together to create art with recycled materials. This is not just a second chance for Andy, it is a second chance for the individuals dealing with physical adversity, and for the environment in Curaçao.

Andy Kirchner

Construction and urbanization do not have to be very straining to the environment. Brian Heather, founder of SolTerra, shared how this can be achieved. It is not just a vision for the distant future; Brian showed how his company has already started building sustainable cities! From solar panel awnings, to vegetation growing in the walls, it was shown that these investments are not only helping the environment, but are financially viable as well, the true manifestation of a win/win situation.

Guest speaker Brian Heather during his TEDx presentation
topic: – What if building sustainably had a dark side? Brian Heather

After having enjoyed a delicious lunch, attendees enjoyed a refreshing perspective on what the people on the streets of Oranjestad think of Donald Trump and his potential presidency. Hereafter, Levi Silvani came back to the stage to treat the attendees to a smooth performance.

20th Century education does not belong in a 21st century world, expressed Maurice de Hond, founder of the Steve Jobs elementary school. Maurice explained that the old education system does not cater to the unique learning needs of kids today. Rather than clustering students together based on age, it is more effective to get likeminded students together and allow them to work through their own lesson plan that was tailor made for them! Students were more focused, and their results were much better. Maurice closed by sharing that these teaching methods are to be implemented in Aruba as well.

Maurice de Hond

Indra Zaandam, culture enthusiast and advisor to the Ministry of Tourism wanted to discuss the following: “What if we put culture first?” There are many people who are excited about Aruban culture. Indra calls them The Hungry: people who want to contribute to Aruba’s culture, but just need a chance to do so, and The Brave: individuals who are taking big steps and becoming beacons that radiate cultural excellence! She expressed how much she admires local people who are rich in knowledge of Aruban culture; it is information about all of the community, after all.  She views them as Aruba’s very own rockstars.

Indra Zaandam

The last speaker of the day was Susan Piver, a New York Times best-selling author of nine books on mindfulness, communication, and relationships. She is also a graduate of a Buddhist seminary and a long-time meditation practitioner. Her talk was themed: “What if you could change the world by doing nothing?” Initially this phrase seemed puzzling, but Susan explained that through meditation, people and perspectives can change for the better. Many people, including Susan herself, have mistakenly considered meditation to be doing nothing for long periods of time. With time and practice, Susan learned what meditation can mean for people and today, she is passing this knowledge on to others.

Susan Piver

The event was appropriately closed off with a final musical performance by artists Levi Silvanie and Sergio Jansen.

TEDxAruba 2016 was truly successful, not only because of the insightful speakers, but also due to how diverse their topics and experiences are, without abandoning one common theme. The crowd was engaged, and hungry for more. Thankfully, on Saturday, September 24th, Arthur Woods, Christo Nel, Brian Heather, and Susan Piver returned to give insightful workshops at the University of Aruba. With all the knowledge and inspiration acquired during TEDxAruba 2016, it is time to implement what was learned!

For a complete overview of TEDxAruba please visit

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