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TEDxMaastricht 2015 in Vrijthof Theatre

TEDxMaastricht 2015 in Vrijthof Theatre

Photographer:Fotograaf: Jonas Bendiksen

MAASTRICHT. Brief, to the point, lively, with a lot of expertise, some humour thrown in, and understandable for a large audience. This is the recipe for a good TEDtalk. On Monday 12 October during TEDxMaastricht, many people - including Maastricht professor Nicole Bouvy and Maastricht paediatrician Anita Vreugdenhil - will take to the stage of the Vrijthof Theatre. Observant asked former and current participants and organisers about their favourite TEDtalk.

A selection from the programme: “Is love more than a feeling?” philosopher Jan Drost wonders. “We are all much more alike than we are different,” is the statement that American writer Amalie Jahn will defend on 12 October. The Maastricht professor of Innovative Surgical Techniques Nicole Bouvy, is presented on the TEDxMaastricht website as “a surgeon who predicts the end of the surgical knife”.

Operations without cuts or other complications are the way of the future, according to Bouvy. “We are already able to carry out a stomach reduction for people who are seriously overweight, without using a knife. How? Through the mouth, into the oesophagus and then into the stomach.” It is not easy for her to choose one favourite TEDtalk. At the moment, in the run-up to her own performance, she has learned a lot from Will Stephens, who explains in his short video ‘How to sound smart in your TEDtalk’. Grinning: “He actually says nothing, but his performance looks like an extremely good story. It is very informative for people who want to get a message across.”

The price of shame, the TEDtalk by Monica Lewinsky who was publically shamed when her affair with American president Bill Clinton became known, Bouvy refers to as “extremely beautiful. She fell in love with her boss when she was 22 and two years later all the media sneered her at. It almost led to suicide.” Lewinsky, not devoid of a sense of humour, said herself in her TEDtalk: “I’m probably the only person over forty that doesn’t want to be 22 again.”

Maastricht student of Medicine and columnist Anna Verhulst stood on the stage of the Vrijthof Theatre last year, with a personal story about being overweight. Since then, her TEDtalk has been watched 110 thousand times. “I was very nervous right up to the beginning, but when I started, it all just melted away and I could really enjoy it.” Verhulst is involved in the organisation of TEDxMaastricht 2015 and has the role of coach for new speakers. Her favourite TEDtalk is A doctor’s touch by Abraham Verghese. “He shows how important it is to examine patients physically, even though it will not contribute much medically. The time and attention that you give to a patient is often very valuable for the person involved. In my very first column for Observant, I wrote about a man who was very ill - he had been having treatment for a very long time - whom I had to examine when I was an intern at the department of Oncology. I went through questionnaires, listened to his pulse, took his blood pressure, et cetera. He became emotional when he said that this was the first time he had been examined so thoroughly. I didn’t discover anything new, but I was helpful because of the attention I gave.”

On 12 October, some of the Maastricht master’s students of media culture - one of the presentations is about the transformation in media culture - will also take to the stage, just like their director of studies, Karin Wenz. She regularly uses TED videos in her lectures. Her favourite TEDtalk is by Belgian artist and scientist Angelo Vermeulen - “I met him during a workshop” - who speaks about video art in an very accessible way, a subject that most people find difficult. “Moreover, he has people from the US, Europe and also Singapore work on the development of game art. The influence of cultures becomes visible in that way.”

Julienne Erckens, who works as a marketing and communication manager at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has been involved in the organisation (consisting purely of volunteers) of TEDxMaastricht since this year. “Those Tedtalks are fantastic. That’s why.” She cheers up completely by watching The happy secret to better work by psychologist Shawn Achor. It is a plea to see the positive side of life: count your blessings. “We think, Achor tells us, that our work makes us happy, but the brain works in exactly the opposite way. If you are happy, then your brain works better and so you are more creative and productive. He gives tips on how to be more positive in life: at the end of the day, look back on the wonderful moments. In doing so, your brain will focus more on positive matters. Another tip: try to send a friendly e-mail to someone who has done something good once a day. Obviously, it has to be sincere.” And yes, she uses this in her daily life, Erckens emphasises. Has she sent a kind e-mail today yet (Monday, 28 September, approximately 16:00hrs)? Laughing: “Yes, certainly, to a former student who signed up for the external advisory board. I wrote, super cool that you are joining us.”

Riki Janssen


TEDxMaastricht 2015 will take place in the Vrijthof Theatre on Monday, 12 October. The theme is “Be the cure is our message. Because ‘small steps matter’.” Tickets and info:






TEDx and UM

Maastricht University is negotiating with the TEDx organisation about organising something together in 2016, as that will be the UM’s 40th anniversary. More will become clear in a few weeks’ time, informed the head of marketing and communication Fons Elbersen. At that time, the full anniversary programme will be presented.



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