Techonomy 2016 – My Experience by Senay Araya

It was a cold foggy morning, my brain thought of everything from yesterday to what lay ahead today, I was apprehensive: thinking of how many people were there, how many people would
judge me, how many people would actually talk to me. Fortunately, I was wrong, that day was one of the most phenomenal days for me, it was actually a bit of a culture shock for me.

A couple of students and I were invited by Edgemakers to Techonomy which is, “ a media and events company that champions technology’s role as a driver of social and economic progress” as said on their website. The company gets their agenda across by hosting annual conferences in
New York and California. The conference consists of activities, labs, and events which revolve around discussing global climate challenges. The conference has all these discussions in various rooms and times. This allows you to walk around the conference, joining in on any discussions whenever you choose to.

The LAB that I joined was called “Genetically Modified Everything” the discussion consisted of five speakers all of who were in the Biotechnologies field and a moderator. The moderator prompted the speakers with questions concerning about how geo economics is changing from our foods to our animals. The highlight of the LAB for me was when one of the audience members had an argument with one of the speakers about how the process of breeding plants and breeding animals was completely different. Honestly, I could only loosely follow the discussion for this certain event because terms like CCR5 and Delta-32 genes, had no link to what I knew, I understood enough to know that even as adults people tend to argue over the littlest of things.

To conclude my experience at Techonomy ‘16, I had the opportunity to interview Sarah Telford over lunch. I asked her many questions ranging from personal questions such as: “what are her hobbies?” to questions pertaining to her career. One thing I noticed before interviewing Sarah Telford was she had a history working in Humanitarian affairs: she worked with UNICEF (a non-profit organization) a few years back and currently is the Chief, Data Services Section and Lead for the Humanitarian Data Exchange Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs United Nations, New York. On top of that she majored in East Asian Studies at Columbia University. All this information led me to one big question on why she led a career in Humanitarian affairs: “Was it because you saw or experienced a certain event in your life where you felt so moved and compelled by that event that you devoted your life to humanitarian affairs” or “Was it because that was a subject/career that you found different and interesting from all other subjects/careers.” She said, “ I got involved in humanitarian work because I was wanted to help respond to some of the big crises of our time. I was working in a different part of the UN initially but was drawn to the immediacy of disaster response.”

While talking to Ms. Telford, I could not help but admire how selfless her work is, we live in a world where everyone’s looking out only for themselves, a world where the philosophy of humanity is not emphasized as it should be. This event showed a whole new world to me…(as cliché as it sounds) This once in a lifetime experience would have never happened without EdgeMakers and for that I truly and sincerely thank you all at EdgeMakers.

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