In February, TEDxYouth@Barcelona held their first event, at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Below, a journal entry from organizer Maria Santolaria, telling the story behind the event:

As a young person under 30, I’m really sorry to see that, generally, if the international media is talking about young people in Spain, it is negative: the lack of expectations or the loss of values in our generation; the brain drain; an unemployment rate of 60% for people under 25.

Earlier, at TEDxSummit in Doha last year, I realized the social impact that some TEDx events have in the communities they’re organized in. And that inspired me. A lot.
I knew we had to organize something similar: A meaningful event, connecting with the problems in our social reality. An event to show people that things can be different; to show people that things are already being done differently. An event with speakers who have the potential to change our reality and build a better future.

That was it. I decided to organize a TEDxYouth@Barcelona event to show the world that another reality exists. One that nobody is talking about. An event to show through stories told in first person by its protagonists, that Barcelona has a lot of young talent.

We built a team and selected 10 amazing speakers from 15 to 25 years old — all who have different passions: mathematics, acting, graffiti, photography. Social entrepreneurship, photojournalism, hip-hop, robotics. A pure injection of optimism.

For 6 months we trained them in storytelling, how to structure a speech, non-verbal communication, how to move on the stage, how to capture an audience’s attention and, most importantly, how to enjoy their time on stage. And we did that during their holidays and on weekends. It was amazing to see how engaged they were with the whole event and how thankful they were (and still are!) to be given such an incredible opportunity as being part of a TEDx event.

I can say that the evening of the event — February 16, 2013 — was a memorable one in our city. Almost 400 attendees, with 200 on the waiting list. Among those, 100 students between 14 and 18 years old.  A lot of educators and representatives from the public administration of Barcelona. And all on a Saturday night!

Our speakers rocked it on the stage. Couldn’t feel prouder of them. If they felt nervous, they just looked at the first row to find support from the other speakers. We laughed. We cried. We lived their stories with them.

Some people came to me after the event and told me that from now on they would hire more young people in their companies. One man approached me and told me that he wanted to organize a TEDx event to show that senior citizens also have passions. Everyone was re-energized from the pessimism that rules our country right now. So, I can say: Objective accomplished!

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