South Island School's Snehaa uses her TEDx talk to give a voice to the voiceless

South Island School's Snehaa uses her TEDx talk to give a voice to the voiceless

Speaking about the plight of foreign immigrants fulfilled a five-year long dream on a student's bucket list

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Photo: Kyle Li

I’ve wanted to speak at a TEDx talk since I was 11 years old. I’m happy to say this five-year dream of mine was fulfilled last month.

Having watched TED Talks all my life and been so intrigued by them, I gleefully added it to the endless bucket list of things to complete before I turn 18. When early last year, applications for speakers were sent out by the head team, I leaped at the opportunity. The theme this year centered was “The Great Frontier - “a challenge that, if overcome, will lead to a whole new innovative start, a whole new world of opportunity, and a whole new realm of discovery.

As speakers got to pick their own topic, I chose to speak of violence against domestic helpers and the oppression that ethic minorities undergo. This was an issue close to my heart: foreign migrants face all kinds of discrimination and abuse in their daily lives, even in Hong Kong. Our society has faced this issue for far too long, with little to nothing done to adequately address this issue. At the heart of my speech lay The Great Frontier: in this case, inequality in our multinational city. The core of my speech addressed the need for equality for all, and an incentive for the change needed to alleviate the problems faced by foreign migrants in our city.


Read what Snehaa's bestie, Belinda, learned from doing a TEDx talk


I’ve lived in Hong Kong for 12 years and have had the same helper the whole time, a woman I affectionately refer to as “auntie”. That’s one of the main reasons this issue was so close to me. Unlike the other speakers, I didn’t have an experience to share. However, I stood as a voice. The voice for all these migrant workers who arrive in Hong Kong in search for a better life but instead so often find things are no better, or even worse. Why should this be your concern, or mine? We’ve overlooked this issue for far too long, so its getting worse. People who live in our city are all of our concern. 

Looking back on this experience, it would be an understatement to say it was unforgettable. It gave me the valuable experience of learning from the stories of others but also delving deeply into an issue that I was passionate about. It was incredible how much support we received from the Head Team and the curators, and how much hard work they put in over several months to make this show memorable for everyone. It was surreal realising that not only the audience of hundreds would be watching, but the recorded would be put online for viewers all over the world. 

Speaking for TEDx was more than just speaking to inspire an audience of people: it was an opportunity to connect with them, have this significant conversation with them, and to make an impact. I’m unsure to what extent I inspired audiences, but I know its inspired me to keep speaking out about issues that affect me, my home town, and the people living here who don’t have a voice.

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