"How can I speak in 10 minutes about the bonds of women over three generations, about how the astonishing strength of those bonds took hold in the life of a four-year-old girl huddled with her young sister, her mother, and her grandmother for five days and nights in a small boat in the China Sea more than 30 years ago, bonds that took hold in the life of that small girl and never let go — that small girl now living in San Francisco and speaking to you today? This is not a finished story. It is a jigsaw puzzle still being put together. Let me tell you about some of the pieces.

So begins technologist Tan Le’s gripping talk at TEDxWomen 2011 on her search for identity and the women who helped her find it. This weekend, on November 30 and December 1, over 140 events will be organized around the webcast of the second annual TEDxWomen event in Washington D.C.

All of us have encountered incredible women who have transformed the way we live — women who have taught us, given us advice, listened, supported; women who have acted as role models, leaders, and sources of strength. In her talk, Tan describes how the strength, leadership, bravery, and resilience of the women in her family helped her to become who she is today. In honor of this weekend’s events, we asked TEDxWomen organizers, “How have the women in your life helped you develop your sense of self?”

Below, some of their answers:

Opposed to Tan Le, Ukrainian Natalia Shulga has returned from the U.S. to Kyiv after the Orange Revolution to re-build the science community in Ukraine. Despite the recent public cool down for national changes — the need for science included — Natalia is still paving the way to a knowledge-based society in Ukraine. We were so lucky to have her as a speaker in May. Her story keeps my energy up while searching for change-makers and curious minds in our city and helps me understand my role in the community better.
—Olga Romanyuk, TEDxKyiv

Throughout my life, other women have always made me aware of aspects of myself I didn’t know I had or were different than my own perceptions of myself. A recent example - one of the co-organizers of our event told me she doesn’t think I fit the definition of a “Type A” person (with which I normally identify). It led to some interesting discussions as to why, and it comes down to the fact that deep down I am more collaborative vs. competitive.
—Deb Kemper, TEDxShanghaiWomen


My mom was essential to my life! She (and my dad), and grandmom, taught me how to treat others, how to be a fair person, to like books, conversations, and treat others equally.
—Ana Goelzer, TEDxLaçadorWomen

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