By Pearl Mak
University of Maryland’s Terp Talks 2017 Spring Showcase, held at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center April 17, revolved around the theme of “fearlessness,” and gaining confidence through experience.
Five student speakers and keynote speaker Atman Smith, a co-founder of the Holistic Foundation, shared their stories in a TED Talk-style format.
Samantha Bingaman, a senior and Environmental Science and Policy major, spoke about the unattainable standards of perfection. She shared with the audience her long-time struggle with an eating disorder. In eighth grade, she measured 5’6 and weighed 101 pounds.
Though unhealthily underweight, Bingaman explained, the number she saw on the scale upset her and she would punish her body by running sprints outside until she was exhausted.
She found herself waking up in the middle of the night, going down to her pantry and examining the foods that were lowest in carbohydrates and calories. This meant that she would often resort to eating raw flour to fill her longing for bread and pasta.
She ended her speech with an encouragement to the audience to embrace their flaws and left with this quote: “Making mistakes is better than making nothing.”
Bingaman felt that Terp Talks gave her a voice.
“One thing a lot of us have trouble with is public speaking and everybody looking at us,” Bingaman said. “But Terp Talks taught me that if you have a story and something to say, people are going to listen to you. They’re not going to look at you weirdly, they’re not going to judge you, they’re going to listen.”
Toluwanimi Obalade, a junior economics and global politics minor, spoke about what it meant to be an immigrant.
He shared stories about his experiences living in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States.
He had to fly to the Bahamas, back to Washington D.C. and then back to Nigeria, all to obtain a visa.
Obalade spoke about his COMM107 professor telling him he was shocked to hear Obalade speaking in such fluent English, though Nigeria is the fourth largest English speaking country in the world.
Before ending his speech, Obalade defined an immigrant as a person trying to find a home, and that he hoped others would think this way as well moving forward.
He then asked all the immigrants in the room to stand up.
“I just really hope that I get the message across that I was trying to show, that basically speaking immigrants are humans beings too,” Obalade said. “Just try and learn their story and get to know them before you judge them.”
Obalade felt that Terp Talks gave him courage to share his experiences.
“It makes you more fearless in a sense, that I’m bold enough to tell my own story based on my own personal experience, and the fact that I’m able to take on new challenges I never thought of when I first came to the University of Maryland,” Obalade said. “This is the first time I’ve ever given a talk in my life, just breaking out of my social normal, stepping out of the box in a sense; that’s what it was really all about.”
Other talks included topics about life patterns, blurring the line between art and science, finding success through hardship and finding peace in stressful times.
“It was pretty amazing. It was great to hear everybody’s different perspectives and things they’re bringing to campus,” freshman animal science major Megan Levy said.