Finding purpose and spreading hope at SF Talks

Finding purpose and spreading hope at SF Talks

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At the recent SF Talks, the TED-style event in which students at Saint Francis High School inspire their audience with short powerful talks, 14 Lancers shared stories of transformation, self-discovery and perseverance.

This was the second year this student-run event was hosted, and for the student speakers, it was incredibly worthwhile, and sometimes cathartic, to be on stage. They spoke on a variety of topics, ranging from finding the joy of personal writing to expanding global perspectives to overcoming learning disabilities. Some chose a topic that was personal, such as junior Yatin Bhat who spoke on how he copes with OCD. He noted that he wanted to open up about this aspect of his life because this was the first time in school that he could talk at length about any topic that he wanted. More importantly, he wanted to encourage those in the audience who were going through a difficult time.

“If we’re able to talk about things that are important or sensitive to us, it lets other people know that they can do it, too,” he says.

Junior Serena Bujtor shared about her struggles with depression. It was difficult for her to be on stage, she says, but the numerous comments she received from others who said they benefited from her message was extremely gratifying. 

“I felt powerful afterwards, like my story did something,” she says. “It gave my journey a purpose.”

Senior Madison Horn also spoke from the heart, opening up about her sexual assault to talk about consent. It’s a relevant topic that doesn’t get talked about enough, and too many people are getting hurt, she says.

“The talk was my closure, my putting it behind me because I’ve been holding on to my experience for so long,” she says. “I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for myself then so this was me putting it all behind me and moving on. This was the resolution I was looking for.”

Not surprisingly, audience members were moved by the honesty they heard. Senior Ninaad Raman had planned to attend just a portion of the event, but he stayed for the whole day, completely drawn in. Although the stories were specific to the speakers, all the topics were universal enough to resonate with the audience. Even several days after SF Talks, Ninaad was still chewing over what he heard, including the talk by senior Nick Juran on overcoming adversity. 

“Nick’s talk got to me,” Ninaad says. “There are people who are going through many harder things that I am and fighting them. I should be able to fight through what I have so much easier and be able to appreciate that.”

SF Talks made such an impact on that Madison is determined to help the event grow even bigger next year, even though she’ll be a college student. Everyone, from the student speakers to the teens and adults in the audience, benefits from an event like SF Talks.

“I was so lucky to have gone out of my comfort zone,” Madison says. “Public speaking is terrifying, but pushing yourself to do it can be so rewarding. SF Talks gives you a platform to voice your story.”