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Spotlight on DP alumnus Alex Sarian

Alex Sarian completed the Diploma Programme at St. Andrew’s Scots School in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduating from the IB  Diploma Programme (DP), Alex went to New York University to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Educational Theater and Performing Arts Administration.

How has your life been shaped by IB?

This is one of those questions that I don’t really know how to answer.  I know for a fact that experiencing the demanding thoroughness of the IB has redefined the way I face challenges, but I have a very hard time identifying why or when that process began for me.  I guess this is a testament to how sensitive the program is to integrating itself into the culture of a school and the life of a teenager.

For starters, it helped me take my education seriously.  And now that I develop curriculum and work in the education field, I know how important it is for young adults to take their education seriously, because they develop a newly found sense of ownership over their own academic and social development.

When you are not delivering witty and inspiring speeches, what do you spend your time doing?

I’m either trying to take advantage of the cultural overload that New York City has to offer, or I’m busy trying to shelter and protect myself from it.  There is such a vibrant and rich arts scene in the city, throbbing and hiding beneath the bright lights of Broadway; once you’re able to see past the flashiness of big, commercial entertainment, there’s a wealth of talent and energy waiting to be discovered at off-(and off-off) Broadway stages, musical venues and makeshift art-galleries around the five boroughs.  When not running around the city, I enjoy the peace and quiet of Park Slope, Brooklyn (the greatest part, in my opinion, about living in New York City!).

Why do you think it’s important to have a TEDx event specifically for IB students?

Power lies in partnership.  TED and IB have such independently powerful missions that, when combined, prove to complement each other in an incredibly unique way.  At the end of the day, education is about the communication of innovative ideas, and what better way to help students develop their voice than by allowing them to interact with others who are using their voice to change the world?  Since the very basic definition of education should be to prepare students for a mature and successful life, there can never be too many chances to expose young adults to opportunities that allow them to make connections between the knowledge they acquire in school today and the potential application of it for the future.   I feel that encouraging students to explore TED doesn’t just expose them to the possibilities that are already ‘out there’, but more importantly, it invites them to beg the question: ‘what possibilities will I be able to create for the future?’

What do you think was the overall theme or message of the event?

The title of the conference was “What in the World” which is as vague and mysterious as the kind future that awaits the next generation of adults.  I thought it was a fantastic way of gathering innovative minds under one roof to explore the question: “What can be done?”. And because there were students in the room, the conversation inherently went from passive “What can be done?” to proactive “What will be done?”.

Were you nervous for your speech (you didn’t seem like it at all!)?

Prior to my speech, I was so nervous I spent much of the morning pacing back and forth in an empty lobby.  I had not been that nervous since the first time I did a show in middle school.

What advice do you have for aspiring orators (or just IB alums in general)?

Firstly, find an idea that is truly unique and worth spreading, and live by it. Make it your passion. Secondly (and this is more general advice), don’t wait for things to be handed to you…go out into the world and make them happen. The IB is a fantastic resource, both as a current and former student, which can empower any individual to reach their goals. Third and lastly, set high goals for yourself; you’d be surprised how hard you’d be willing to work in order to reach them.