On Thursday, April 7, I accidentally walked in upon one of the most entertaining and insightful events I have been to during my time at UCLA. Started in 2014 by the UCLA Regents Scholar Society, SPIEL (Students Presenting, Innovating, Entertaining, and Learning) invited students to present for a few minutes on any topic they wished to. It is modeled after TED, but features student speakers.
This annual free program provides an opportunity for students to share their ideas and experiences with other students on complex taboo topics, such as the stigma against mental health diseases or reporting acts of sexual violence.
This year, SPIEL had eight speakers: Eddie Kim, Keshav Tadimeti, Brennan Chang, Nick Nieto, Terri Shih, Jordan Bradford, Mario Ramirez, and Bo James Hwang. I was able to hear only four of them speak, but the ones I heard were so powerful that I wanted to stay and watch the rest.
The talk I enjoyed the most was From Start to Finish presented by second year Communication Studies major Mario Ramirez. I won’t give away the full details, but he spoke about how training for and finishing a marathon in high school changed his life – and how it can transform others as well. It was thoughtful and inspiring, and it moved me to run again.
Programs like SPIEL help students grow and practice using their voices to spur open discussions on complicated issues that can only be resolved through promoting awareness and dialog. SPIEL also allows students to share creative ideas about such fields as nonprofit marketing, the scientific method and music, success and dancing, and home.
While the 2016 talks are not uploaded yet, you can view last year’s SPIELs on YouTube. If you want to give a talk of your own next year, go to the program’s website for more details on how to sign up.