When Saba Nafees heard that Texas Tech University planned its own TEDx event, she was excited.
“I wanted to at least volunteer,” she said. “I want Texas Tech to be at the forefront.” She said she spoke with those in her undergraduate program and decided she would help with organization of the event.
But things took a different turn for Nafees when not one but two admired mentors asked her to speak instead. She said they saw how passionate she was on the subject of education in the United States and how different it is from other countries and are working with her on developing that passion into inspiration for her TED Talk.
“Two people who believe in me told me I should do this,” she said, explaining why she decided to make the leap from volunteer to the speaker’s stage. It isn’t her first time in the spotlight, however. Nafees said she has often presented at conferences and at different universities.
“I’ve done my fair share of public speaking,” she said, “but each time is different.”
Her interest in TEDx comes because it is “a platform for the spreading of ideas,” Nafees said, adding her first inclining of her current speech topic came when she heard Jose Antonio Vargas speak at Texas Tech on Nov. 1.
“How do you define American?” she said of his speech, “He posed this question, and we had no answer.
“There’s a whole history behind that question. Are you a naturalized citizen or were you born here?” she added as an example.
For her own history, Nafees said she was brought to America as a young child. “I seem like an American to other Americans, so what do you answer?”
She said she wants to use her TEDx platform to ask people this question and have them consider the answer for themselves.
Taking the subject further, she wants to look at the privileges that go along with being American. She will tell her own story and talk about her educational experiences in Pakistan and the United States.
“Students my age don’t understand the plethora of opportunities they have in front of them,” she said of the differences here. “Part of being an American is taking advantage of those.”