TEDx Youth San Juan

Entrance of TEDx Youth San Juan

I rarely attend local conferences. Most of them are very commercial and don’t nearly resonate with me. Listening to folks selling something keeps me away from wanting to make an effort to invest money and much less time with most local conferences.

A few weeks ago I got an email with the details of TEDx Youth-San Juan, and when browsing through the speaker’s list, I saw Descoidy’s son Ricardo Sanchez was going to be speaking.

I did a bit more research on it and then I quickly realized that I would not be able to assist given the workload and my current inexistent budget. This past year has been such a financially challenging where I have been obligated to invest money into a new business that even the small amount of $110 is not something I could afford.

Thankfully my blogging efforts paid off because a good friend who I met through this blog Joaquin Kierce had already bought a ticket for me. Joaquin is one of the few who I know that executes on what he preaches. He invested in me and I made the time to invest a day on what was a truly inspiring experience.

Easy Navigation to Registration

Arriving at a Conference can be somewhat confusing but the TedXyouth San Juan staff made it very easy to navigate towards the registration table. Once there we were given our badges and sent off to breakfast. I did not have much of breakfast other than a water bottle and a cup of fruit (glad they had one small vegan option).

TEDx Youth San Juan stage

The Kick-Off

We sat in our chairs and minutes later the conference was kicked off by a poetic intro from a 5th grader who is a farmer and entrepreneur. As a vegan his message of how important agriculture is clearly resonated with me:

“Sin Agricultura no hay Comida y sin comida no hay vida”

Jose Esteban Lopez at a young age  is also the propietario of Hacienda Lirica, located in Adjuntas a town next to where my great-grandfather had his farm lands in Tibes a sector of Ponce. It was easy to forget that Jose Esteban is only in 5th grade since he did great at getting the energy of the crowd going and kicking off such an event.

A News Anchor who Wants to Report on Positive News

The event was being moderated by a local news anchor and since I stop watching TV I had to do some extra research to find her name and twitter handle. Keylla started off the mentioning that as a News Anchor she wanted to put the spotlight on more positive things that kids like Jose Esteban are doing in the Island.

As someone who has been involved in many efforts in activism those who are doing positive things have their hands full already with the upward struggle people can find in the Island. It has been my personal experience that the press wants to create a bunch of obstacles to get them to report on something and then will always put the spotlight on the news that sells to the public which is much of the blood and gore they broadcast.

I am glad that this feeling in Keylla is ignited and she really feels journalist including herself need to focus on the positive.

My message to Keylla it is really up to her and her journalist colleagues to decide if they want to continue going after the horror stories that are printed, broadcasted, and shared in the news. Keylla can decide to be an ambassador to putting the spotlight on the great things that happen on the Island to nourish those who are seeking inspiration. I am a firm believer that it is about the quality of the audience not the quantity.

A Facilitator and Agent of Positive Change

The next speaker that resonated with me was Dra. Mercedes Cintron the Founder “Jovenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo”. Her presentation resonated because she really dug deep and shared some of her struggles and personal stories. She was courageous enough to speak about some bumps in the road and inspired us with some stories of success of some of the efforts she has been involved with.

Mercedes is the founder of an organization which mentors youth by igniting positive changes in her world. I personally liked her Michael Angelo’s David example and how she is a facilitator of our youth creating their own path by having the right support systems. Her message was clear we need to approach our youth and help them see the opportunities they have. We need to listen to our youth without judging them. As Mercedes herself explained our Youth does not want unsolicited advice they want guidance on what they asked helped for.


Think, Dream, and Create

She motivates the youth to Think and Dream so they they can be inspired and  create a better future for themselves and communities they belong too. Another point by Mercedes was how by subtracting and eliminating the added weight these young kids are light on their feet and can make better decisions that we all benefit from.

Dra. Mercedes Cintron Sharing her story at TEDx Youth San Juan

Agricultural School Micro Business Project

It was also great to see a group of young entrepreneurs working on a project out of their school Escuela Emilio Scharón Rodríguez named el Huerto de Emilio consisting of a fruit and veggie garden which also promotes healthy living and organic products.

Darilyn and Sorimar took the stage and did a great job giving credit to many who have been involved in the success of their project. The video presented captured the story behind el Huerto de Emilio and what it stands for. Since their products are vegan and vegetarian they probably have a new customer.

Two young women entrepreneurs discussing their role in el Huerto de Emilio.

Los Tres Tenores

Before lunch we had a músical presentation by “Los Tres Tenores” and I was amazed by the awesome talent of these three young kids who are in the ages of 16 and 18 years old. It was a real pleasure to watch and listen to Cristian García, Rafael Fax y Juan Gilberto Hernández.

Tres Tenores at TEDx Youth San Juan.

Here is a video I found of them on youtube and one video I took of them with my iPhone 5.


 Santurce Is Convenient

During Lunch, vegan options were not provided,  but I had the convenience of finding a Naturalisimo a healthy cafeteria with Vegan options.

Afternoon full of Energy

The Afternoon was kicked off by some rock star clowns. A great way to get the crowd to settle down before the next speaker get on stage. Then I started seeing images of what seemed to be life in the 50’s for Puerto Rican Immigrants moving to the US. I personally did not pay much attention to the images and at first I was a bit confused of the music and images.

Once Debra Joy Perez got on stage and started sharing her story I realized how the images tied into her story. She quickly caught my attention when she mentioned that her parents learned english watching I Love Lucy.

Many don’t know that one of my mentors when I was a teenager was Father Tom Cahill a priest who grew up living in Beverly Hills next to Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Father Cahill was friends and grew up with Desi Arnez Jr. It was great to be in an event about youth and get reminded about someone like Father Cahill who has dedicated most of his life to helping youth.

I was so caught into Debra’s message I took very little notes I wanted to absorb every small detail. Overall she spoke on the importance of encouraging and inspiring youth and how that can even have more weight than education.

Investing Early in Our Youth

Debra shared a personal story on how someone invested in her at a very early age. How someone from the school staff gave her an application to go to Rutgers and sold to her the importance of going to college. Debra returned with the filled application but short of the $25 fee she needed to submit it. At that moment the teacher reached into her purse and included the $25.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

Debra is doing work that I consider meaningful by teaching others of the importance of investing in communities of color. As I mentioned in a previous tweet Debra left a little piece of her soul on stage and I was very grateful to be present when she was sharing her story.

Opening Puerto Rico’s Data

Before the break we also had the CIO of Puerto Rico Giancarlo Gonzalez he shared a bit of background when it comes to his family’s legacy. His family where the founders of Gonzalez Padin which where locally owned department stores that disappeared in the 90’s. As a kid he wanted to solve his family’s business issues but by the time he became an adult Gonzalez Padin no longer existed.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

Giancarlo has created a few other technology oriented businesses and now he is working towards bringing our very outdated government up to date. Giancarlo shared some information on how his vision of creating an Open Data Policy will not only improve the Puerto Rico Government’s infrastructure but how citizens and businesses can benefit from that greatly.

Our World Robotic Champions

Being a geek at heart one of the key reasons I wanted to go to Ted X Youth San Juan was to see the presentation of high school kids who are currently world robotics champions Ricardo Sanchez, Jorge Covas, and Nelson Sandoval took the stage. Ricardo is my good friend Deoscoidy’s son and I have been hearing for the past few years on how Deoscoidy had been working with these kids and building a robotics team.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

What made it really interesting was how they  shared their journey to reaching the milestone of becoming robotics champions by creating an alliance with a team out of China and Singapore. Its interesting how these young kids and their mentors effectively used a global alliance to increase their chances of winning the competition.

I think many more adults need to follow the path of these teenagers. They help us all see the value in global collaborations with the purpose of reaching a common goal.

Nanotechnology Meets Design

Before listening to this post I clearly did not see the how Nanotechnology could tie to Design.

Arthur L. Asseo via his presentation gave me some insight on how that could happen. He presented a unique experience where they went to kids and asked them to design 3 games which would help others understand design and nanotechnology.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

Having the kids create the prototypes must have been a pretty cool experience and then having an industrial designer come back and create a polished and refined product was clearly a genius idea. We need more individuals like Arthur that help our kids with critical thinking exercises and helping them understand that they can create.

Connecting With Musical Therapy

A few years ago I had my friend Eudeliz Santiago suggest that I should play some of the “Atencion Atencion” videos for Daniela. I am not a fan of most commercial TV and I clearly had no idea of what it was about. A bit more than a year ago when we where moving and Eudeliz was helping us by watching over Daniela. In the moving process Eudeliz introduced Daniela to Atencion Atencion.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

For the past year I have been  listening, dancing, and singing to a lizzard, a frog, an angel, and even a flea. Victor Rivera founder of Atención Atención took the stage and even under some technical glitches with thee microphone he made a pretty awesome presentation explaining the purpose of  Atención Atención songs and movements. It was a real treat to get to chat with Victor for a minute or two and then to see him on stage where he quickly got the crowd into some of the fun by asking all of us to become children.

He explained how via music and dancing he connects to a crowd at a deeper level. Learning some of the values of each song helps me see Atención Atención efforts a bit better.

Victor’s presentation was one of my favorite highlights of the day because I got to understand a lot better what Atención Atención stands for.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

Youngest Woman Grand Chess Master

The conference ended with the most energetic and confident speaker on stage who also is the youngest Woman International Master in the world, has a norm of Woman Grand Master.

Danitza got on stage and share her story and her experiences as a student. She explained how chess had helped her when it came to critical thinking and getting through many obstacles.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

The reality is that not only was she telling us about the value she was clearly showing it. Her presence on stage was something admirable that made any dad like me with a daughter proud of Danitza accomplishments.

Some hope mixed with tears…

Her message resonated so well with me it even brought a few tears some of joy because I want to see more Danitza’s and the other tears maybe had some anger in why we don’t hear more from the Danitza’s and since I can’t wait for others to put the spotlight on the Danitzas, Jose Estebans, Darilyns, Sorimars, Ricardos, Jorges, and Nelsons I am making a commitment here that I will do a better job via our blogs to put the spotlight on them.

Where you at the Ted X Youth event?

What was your experience like?

PD: Special thanks to my friend Joaquin Kierce of Neuron Igniters for gifting me a ticket to assist. Stop by Neuron Igniters and see some of his awesome work.

TEDx Youth San Juan.

Take Some Time and Watch the Morning Sessions

See below and watch the videos of the complete day. On the first one you might want to move over to around minute 35.