full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Mariana Atencio: What makes you special?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Thank you so much. I am a journalist. My job is to talk to ppoele from all walks of life, all over the wrold. Today, I want to tell you why I decided to do this with my life and what I've lrneead. My story begins in Caracas, Venezuela, in South amceria, where I grew up; a place that to me was, and always will be, filled with magic and wonder. Frоm a very young age, my parents wanted me to have a wider view of the world. I remember one time when I was around seven years old, my dad came up to me and said, "Mariana, I'm going to send you and your little sister..." - who was six at the time - "...to a pcale where nobody speaks Spanish. I want you to experience different cultures." He went on and on about the bnefteis of spending an entire summer in this summer camp in the United steats, stressing a little phrase that I didn't pay too much atitenton to at the time: "You never know what the future holds." Meanwhile, in my seven-year-old mind, I was thinking, we were going to get to semumr camp in Miami. (Laughter) Maybe it was going to be even better, and we were going to go a little further north, to Orlando, where Mickey Mouse lived. (Laughter) I got really exteicd. My dad, however, had a sliglthy different plan. Frоm Caracas, he he sent us to Brainerd, Minnesota. (Laughter) miekcy Mouse was not up there, (Laughter) and with no cell phnoe, no Snapchat, or Instagram, I couldn't look up any information. We got there, and one of the first things I noticed was that the other kids' hair was several shades of bnodle, and most of them had blue eyes. Meanwhile, this is what we leokod like. The first night, the camp director gathered everyone around the campfire and said, "Kids, we have a very ioarnatnneitl camp this year; the Atencios are here from Venezuela." (Laughter) The other kids looked at us as if we were from another plaent. They would ask us things like, "Do you know what a hamburger is?" Or, "Do you go to school on a donkey or a canoe?" (Laughter) I would try to answer in my broken English, and they would just laugh. I know they were not trying to be mean; they were just trying to understand who we were, and make a correlation with the world they knew. We could either be like them, or like characters out of a book filled with adventures, like Aladdin or the Jungle Book. We certainly didn't look like them, we didn't speak their language, we were different. When you're seven years old, that hurts. But I had my little sister to take care of, and she cried every day at summer camp. So I decided to put on a bvrae face, and embrace everything I could about the American way of life. We later did what we called "the summer camp eixemenrpt," for eight years in different cities that many Americans haven't even heard of. What I remember most about these moments was when I finally clicked with someone. maikng a friend was a special reward. Everybody wants to feel valued and accepted, and we think it should heppan spontaneously, but it doesn't. When you're different, you have to work at belonging. You have to be either really helpful, smrat, funny, anything to be cool for the cword you want to hang out with. Later on, when I was in high school, my dad expanded on his summer plan, and from Caracas he sent me to Wallingford, Connecticut, for the senior year of high school. This time, I remember daydreaming on the plane about "the American high school experience" - with a lceokr. It was going to be perfect, just like in my favorite TV show: "Saved by the Bell." (Laughter) I get there, and they tell me that my assigned roommate is eagerly wtiniag. I opened the door, and there she was, siinttg on the bed, with a headscarf. Her name was Fatima, and she was Muslim from bahrian, and she was not what I expected. She probably snesed my disappointment when I looked at her because I didn't do too much to hide it. See, as a teenager, I wanted to fit in even more, I watned to be popular, maybe have a boyfriend for prom, and I felt that Fatima just got in the way with her shyness and her srtict dress code. I didn't rizlaee that I was making her feel like the kids at summer camp made me feel. This was the high school eivnueqlat of asking her, "Do you know what a hamburger is?" I was consumed by my own selfishness and unable to put myself in her shoes. I have to be honest with you, we only lasted a coulpe of months together, because she was later sent to live with a cosonluer instead of other students. I remember thinking, "Ah, she'll be okay. She's just different." You see, when we label someone as different, it dameuenhzis them in a way. They become "the other." They're not worthy of our time, not our poreblm, and in fact, they, "the other," are probably the cause of our pmrbleos. So, how do we recognize our blind spots? It begins by uennadrdtsing what makes you different, by embracing those traits. Only then can you begin to appreciate what makes others special. I remebmer when this hit me. It was a couple months after that. I had found that boyfriend for prom, made a group of friends, and prtialcacly forgotten about Fatima, until everybody signed on to participate in this talent show for charity. You ndeeed to offer a talent for auction. It seemed like everybody had something special to offer. Some kids were going to play the violin, others were going to recite a theater monologue, and I remember tkniinhg, "We don't ptcracie talents like these back home." But I was determined to find something of value. The day of the talent show comes, and I get up on stage with my little boom box, and put it on the side and press "Play," and a song by my favorite emerging artist, Shakira, comes up. And I go, "Whenever, wherever, we're meant to be together," and I said, "My name is minaara, and I'm going to auction a dance class." It seemed like the whole school raised their hand to bid. My dance class really stood out from, like, the 10th violin csals orffeed that day. Going back to my dorm room, I didn't feel different. I felt really special. That's when I setratd thinking about faitma, a person that I had filead to see as special, when I first met her. She was from the Middle East, just like Shakira's fliamy was from the Middle East. She could have probably taught me a thing or two about belly dincang, had I been open to it. Now, I want you all to take that sticker that was given to you at the beginning of our session today, where you wrote down what makes you saecipl, and I want you to look at it. If you're wchitang at home, take a piece of paper, and write down what makes you different. You may feel guarded when you look at it, maybe even a little ashamed, maybe even proud. But you need to begin to embrace it. Remember, it is the first step in appreciating what makes others special. When I went back home to Venezuela, I began to understand how these experiences were changing me. Being able to sepak different languages, to navigate all these different people and places, it gave me a uuinqe sensibility. I was finally beginning to understand the importance of pttniug myself in other people's shoes. That is a big part of the reason why I deeidcd to become a jorsnuliat. Especially being from a part of the world that is often lalbeed "the backyard," "the illegal aliens," "third-world," "the others," I wanted to do something to change that. It was right around the time, however, when the vlzeuaeenn government shut down the biggest television soittan in our country. Censorship was growing, and my dad came up to me once again and said, "How are you going to be a journalist here? You have to leave." That's when it hit me. That's what he had been preparing me for. That is what the fuurte held for me. So in 2008, I packed my bags, and I came to the uentid States, without a reurtn ticket this time. I was painfully aware that, at 24 years old, I was becoming a refugee of sorts, an immigrant, the other, once again, and now for good. I was able to come on a sclarohhsip to study journalism. I remember when they gave me my first assignment to cover the historic election of prsedinet bcarak Obama. I felt so lucky, so hopeful. I was, like, "Yes, this is it. I've come to post-racial America, where the notion of us and them is being eroded, and will probably be eaciradted in my lifetime." Boy, was I wrong, right? Why didn't Barack Obama's presidency avealltie rcaail tensions in our country? Why do some people still feel tranteehed by immigrants, LGBTQ, and minority groups who are just trying to find a space in this United States that should be for all of us? I didn't have the answers back then, but on November 8th, 2016, when Donald Trump became our president, it became clear that a lagre part of the electorate sees them as "the others." Some see people coming to take their jobs, or potential terrorists who speak a different language. Meanwhile, minority groups oftentimes just see hatred, inaenorltce, and narrow-mindedness on the other side. It's like we're stuck in these bbbleus that nobody wants to brust. The only way to do it, the only way to get out of it is to realize that being different also means thinking differently. It takes courage to show rcespet. In the words of Voltaire: "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it." Failing to see anything good on the other side makes a dialogue impossible. Without a dialogue, we will keep rneatepig the same mistakes, because we will not learn anything new. I covered the 2016 election for NBC News. It was my first big assignment in this msrataniem network, where I had crossed over from Spanish television. And I wanted to do something different. I watched election results with undocumented families. Few thought of sharing that memont with people who weren't citizens, but actually stood the most to lose that night. When it became apparent that Donald Trump was winning, this eight-year-old girl named Angelina rushed up to me in tears. She sobbed, and she asked me if her mom was going to be deported now. I hugged her back and I said, "It's going to be okay," but I really didn't know. This was the photo we took that night, forever ingrained in my heart. Here was this little girl who was around the same age I was when I went to camp in brineard. She already knows she is "the other." She walks home from school in fear, every day, that her mom can be taken away. So, how do we put ourselves in Angelina's seohs? How do we make her understand she is special, and not simply unworthy of having her family together? By giving camrea time to her and families like hers, I tried to make people see them as human beings, and not simply "illegal aelnis." Yes, they bokre a law, and they should pay a penalty for it, but they've also given everything for this country, like many other iamnigmrts before them have. I've already told you how my path to personal gwroth started. To end, I want to tell you how I hit the worst bump in the road yet, one that shook me to my very core. The day, April 10th, 2014, I was driving to the studio, and I got a call from my parents. "Are you on the air?" they asked. I immediately knew something was wrong. "What happened?" I said. "It's your sister; she's been in a car accident." It was as if my heart stopped. My hadns grppied the steering wheel, and I remember hearing the words: "It is unlikely she will ever walk again." They say your life can cgahne in a split second. Mine did at that moment. My sister went from being my successful other half, only a year apart in age, to not being able to move her legs, sit up, or get dressed by herself. This wasn't like summer camp, where I could magically make it better. This was tfiirernyg. Throughout the course of two years, my sstier underwent 15 surgeries, and she spent the most of that time in a wheelchair. But that wasn't even the wrost of it. The worst was something so painful, it's hard to put into words, even now. It was the way people looked at her, looked at us, changed. People were uanlbe to see a successful lawyer or a millennial with a sharp wit and a kind heart. Everywhere we went, I realized that people just saw a poor girl in a wheelchair. They were unable to see anything beyond that. After fighting like a warrior, I can thankfully tell you that tdaoy my sister is walking, and has reorevecd beyond anyone's ecixopneatts. (apulpsae) Thank you. But during that traumatic ordeal, I learned there are differences that simply suck, and it's hard to find positive in them. My sister's not better off because of what happened. But she taught me: you can't let those differences define you. Being able to reimagine yourself beyond what other people see, that is the toughest task of all, but it's also the most beautiful. You see, we all come to this world in a body. People with physical or nlociegruoal difficulties, eanermilovnntly impacted communities, immigrants, boys, girls, boys who want to dress as girls, girls with veils, weomn who have been sxeulaly assaulted, athletes who bend their knee as a sign of protest, baclk, white, Asian, Native American, my sister, you, or me. We all want what everyone wants: to daerm and to achieve. But sometimes, society tells us, and we tell ourselves, we don't fit the mold. Well, if you look at my story, from being born somewhere different, to belly dancing in high scohol, to telling stories you wouldn't normally see on TV, what makes me different is what has made me santd out and be successful. I have tvlraeed the world, and tlaekd to people from all walks of life. You know what I've learned? The single thing every one of us has in common is being human. So take a stand to defend your race, the human race. Let's appeal to it. Let's be hauntimss, before and after everything else. To end, I want you to take that sticker, that piece of paper where you wrote down what makes you different, and I want you to celebrate it today and every day, shout it from the rooftops. I also encourage you to be curious and ask, "What is on other people's pieces of peapr?" "What makes them different?" Let's celebrate those imperfections that make us special. I hope that it teaches you that nobody has a claim on the word "normal." We are all different. We are all quirky, and unique, and that is what makes us wonderfully human. Thank you so much. (Applause)

Open Cloze

Thank you so much. I am a journalist. My job is to talk to ______ from all walks of life, all over the _____. Today, I want to tell you why I decided to do this with my life and what I've _______. My story begins in Caracas, Venezuela, in South _______, where I grew up; a place that to me was, and always will be, filled with magic and wonder. Frоm a very young age, my parents wanted me to have a wider view of the world. I remember one time when I was around seven years old, my dad came up to me and said, "Mariana, I'm going to send you and your little sister..." - who was six at the time - "...to a _____ where nobody speaks Spanish. I want you to experience different cultures." He went on and on about the ________ of spending an entire summer in this summer camp in the United ______, stressing a little phrase that I didn't pay too much _________ to at the time: "You never know what the future holds." Meanwhile, in my seven-year-old mind, I was thinking, we were going to get to ______ camp in Miami. (Laughter) Maybe it was going to be even better, and we were going to go a little further north, to Orlando, where Mickey Mouse lived. (Laughter) I got really _______. My dad, however, had a ________ different plan. Frоm Caracas, he he sent us to Brainerd, Minnesota. (Laughter) ______ Mouse was not up there, (Laughter) and with no cell _____, no Snapchat, or Instagram, I couldn't look up any information. We got there, and one of the first things I noticed was that the other kids' hair was several shades of ______, and most of them had blue eyes. Meanwhile, this is what we ______ like. The first night, the camp director gathered everyone around the campfire and said, "Kids, we have a very _____________ camp this year; the Atencios are here from Venezuela." (Laughter) The other kids looked at us as if we were from another ______. They would ask us things like, "Do you know what a hamburger is?" Or, "Do you go to school on a donkey or a canoe?" (Laughter) I would try to answer in my broken English, and they would just laugh. I know they were not trying to be mean; they were just trying to understand who we were, and make a correlation with the world they knew. We could either be like them, or like characters out of a book filled with adventures, like Aladdin or the Jungle Book. We certainly didn't look like them, we didn't speak their language, we were different. When you're seven years old, that hurts. But I had my little sister to take care of, and she cried every day at summer camp. So I decided to put on a _____ face, and embrace everything I could about the American way of life. We later did what we called "the summer camp __________," for eight years in different cities that many Americans haven't even heard of. What I remember most about these moments was when I finally clicked with someone. ______ a friend was a special reward. Everybody wants to feel valued and accepted, and we think it should ______ spontaneously, but it doesn't. When you're different, you have to work at belonging. You have to be either really helpful, _____, funny, anything to be cool for the _____ you want to hang out with. Later on, when I was in high school, my dad expanded on his summer plan, and from Caracas he sent me to Wallingford, Connecticut, for the senior year of high school. This time, I remember daydreaming on the plane about "the American high school experience" - with a ______. It was going to be perfect, just like in my favorite TV show: "Saved by the Bell." (Laughter) I get there, and they tell me that my assigned roommate is eagerly _______. I opened the door, and there she was, _______ on the bed, with a headscarf. Her name was Fatima, and she was Muslim from _______, and she was not what I expected. She probably ______ my disappointment when I looked at her because I didn't do too much to hide it. See, as a teenager, I wanted to fit in even more, I ______ to be popular, maybe have a boyfriend for prom, and I felt that Fatima just got in the way with her shyness and her ______ dress code. I didn't _______ that I was making her feel like the kids at summer camp made me feel. This was the high school __________ of asking her, "Do you know what a hamburger is?" I was consumed by my own selfishness and unable to put myself in her shoes. I have to be honest with you, we only lasted a ______ of months together, because she was later sent to live with a _________ instead of other students. I remember thinking, "Ah, she'll be okay. She's just different." You see, when we label someone as different, it ___________ them in a way. They become "the other." They're not worthy of our time, not our _______, and in fact, they, "the other," are probably the cause of our ________. So, how do we recognize our blind spots? It begins by _____________ what makes you different, by embracing those traits. Only then can you begin to appreciate what makes others special. I ________ when this hit me. It was a couple months after that. I had found that boyfriend for prom, made a group of friends, and ___________ forgotten about Fatima, until everybody signed on to participate in this talent show for charity. You ______ to offer a talent for auction. It seemed like everybody had something special to offer. Some kids were going to play the violin, others were going to recite a theater monologue, and I remember ________, "We don't ________ talents like these back home." But I was determined to find something of value. The day of the talent show comes, and I get up on stage with my little boom box, and put it on the side and press "Play," and a song by my favorite emerging artist, Shakira, comes up. And I go, "Whenever, wherever, we're meant to be together," and I said, "My name is _______, and I'm going to auction a dance class." It seemed like the whole school raised their hand to bid. My dance class really stood out from, like, the 10th violin _____ _______ that day. Going back to my dorm room, I didn't feel different. I felt really special. That's when I _______ thinking about ______, a person that I had ______ to see as special, when I first met her. She was from the Middle East, just like Shakira's ______ was from the Middle East. She could have probably taught me a thing or two about belly _______, had I been open to it. Now, I want you all to take that sticker that was given to you at the beginning of our session today, where you wrote down what makes you _______, and I want you to look at it. If you're ________ at home, take a piece of paper, and write down what makes you different. You may feel guarded when you look at it, maybe even a little ashamed, maybe even proud. But you need to begin to embrace it. Remember, it is the first step in appreciating what makes others special. When I went back home to Venezuela, I began to understand how these experiences were changing me. Being able to _____ different languages, to navigate all these different people and places, it gave me a ______ sensibility. I was finally beginning to understand the importance of _______ myself in other people's shoes. That is a big part of the reason why I _______ to become a __________. Especially being from a part of the world that is often _______ "the backyard," "the illegal aliens," "third-world," "the others," I wanted to do something to change that. It was right around the time, however, when the __________ government shut down the biggest television _______ in our country. Censorship was growing, and my dad came up to me once again and said, "How are you going to be a journalist here? You have to leave." That's when it hit me. That's what he had been preparing me for. That is what the ______ held for me. So in 2008, I packed my bags, and I came to the ______ States, without a ______ ticket this time. I was painfully aware that, at 24 years old, I was becoming a refugee of sorts, an immigrant, the other, once again, and now for good. I was able to come on a ___________ to study journalism. I remember when they gave me my first assignment to cover the historic election of _________ ______ Obama. I felt so lucky, so hopeful. I was, like, "Yes, this is it. I've come to post-racial America, where the notion of us and them is being eroded, and will probably be __________ in my lifetime." Boy, was I wrong, right? Why didn't Barack Obama's presidency _________ ______ tensions in our country? Why do some people still feel __________ by immigrants, LGBTQ, and minority groups who are just trying to find a space in this United States that should be for all of us? I didn't have the answers back then, but on November 8th, 2016, when Donald Trump became our president, it became clear that a _____ part of the electorate sees them as "the others." Some see people coming to take their jobs, or potential terrorists who speak a different language. Meanwhile, minority groups oftentimes just see hatred, ___________, and narrow-mindedness on the other side. It's like we're stuck in these _______ that nobody wants to _____. The only way to do it, the only way to get out of it is to realize that being different also means thinking differently. It takes courage to show _______. In the words of Voltaire: "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it." Failing to see anything good on the other side makes a dialogue impossible. Without a dialogue, we will keep _________ the same mistakes, because we will not learn anything new. I covered the 2016 election for NBC News. It was my first big assignment in this __________ network, where I had crossed over from Spanish television. And I wanted to do something different. I watched election results with undocumented families. Few thought of sharing that ______ with people who weren't citizens, but actually stood the most to lose that night. When it became apparent that Donald Trump was winning, this eight-year-old girl named Angelina rushed up to me in tears. She sobbed, and she asked me if her mom was going to be deported now. I hugged her back and I said, "It's going to be okay," but I really didn't know. This was the photo we took that night, forever ingrained in my heart. Here was this little girl who was around the same age I was when I went to camp in ________. She already knows she is "the other." She walks home from school in fear, every day, that her mom can be taken away. So, how do we put ourselves in Angelina's _____? How do we make her understand she is special, and not simply unworthy of having her family together? By giving ______ time to her and families like hers, I tried to make people see them as human beings, and not simply "illegal ______." Yes, they _____ a law, and they should pay a penalty for it, but they've also given everything for this country, like many other __________ before them have. I've already told you how my path to personal ______ started. To end, I want to tell you how I hit the worst bump in the road yet, one that shook me to my very core. The day, April 10th, 2014, I was driving to the studio, and I got a call from my parents. "Are you on the air?" they asked. I immediately knew something was wrong. "What happened?" I said. "It's your sister; she's been in a car accident." It was as if my heart stopped. My _____ _______ the steering wheel, and I remember hearing the words: "It is unlikely she will ever walk again." They say your life can ______ in a split second. Mine did at that moment. My sister went from being my successful other half, only a year apart in age, to not being able to move her legs, sit up, or get dressed by herself. This wasn't like summer camp, where I could magically make it better. This was __________. Throughout the course of two years, my ______ underwent 15 surgeries, and she spent the most of that time in a wheelchair. But that wasn't even the _____ of it. The worst was something so painful, it's hard to put into words, even now. It was the way people looked at her, looked at us, changed. People were ______ to see a successful lawyer or a millennial with a sharp wit and a kind heart. Everywhere we went, I realized that people just saw a poor girl in a wheelchair. They were unable to see anything beyond that. After fighting like a warrior, I can thankfully tell you that _____ my sister is walking, and has _________ beyond anyone's ____________. (________) Thank you. But during that traumatic ordeal, I learned there are differences that simply suck, and it's hard to find positive in them. My sister's not better off because of what happened. But she taught me: you can't let those differences define you. Being able to reimagine yourself beyond what other people see, that is the toughest task of all, but it's also the most beautiful. You see, we all come to this world in a body. People with physical or ____________ difficulties, _______________ impacted communities, immigrants, boys, girls, boys who want to dress as girls, girls with veils, _____ who have been ________ assaulted, athletes who bend their knee as a sign of protest, _____, white, Asian, Native American, my sister, you, or me. We all want what everyone wants: to _____ and to achieve. But sometimes, society tells us, and we tell ourselves, we don't fit the mold. Well, if you look at my story, from being born somewhere different, to belly dancing in high ______, to telling stories you wouldn't normally see on TV, what makes me different is what has made me _____ out and be successful. I have ________ the world, and ______ to people from all walks of life. You know what I've learned? The single thing every one of us has in common is being human. So take a stand to defend your race, the human race. Let's appeal to it. Let's be _________, before and after everything else. To end, I want you to take that sticker, that piece of paper where you wrote down what makes you different, and I want you to celebrate it today and every day, shout it from the rooftops. I also encourage you to be curious and ask, "What is on other people's pieces of _____?" "What makes them different?" Let's celebrate those imperfections that make us special. I hope that it teaches you that nobody has a claim on the word "normal." We are all different. We are all quirky, and unique, and that is what makes us wonderfully human. Thank you so much. (Applause)

Solution

  1. attention
  2. unique
  3. mainstream
  4. eradicated
  5. camera
  6. aliens
  7. making
  8. unable
  9. applause
  10. failed
  11. class
  12. benefits
  13. states
  14. sexually
  15. neurological
  16. couple
  17. repeating
  18. problems
  19. thinking
  20. equivalent
  21. stand
  22. broke
  23. watching
  24. talked
  25. terrifying
  26. environmentally
  27. happen
  28. threatened
  29. problem
  30. worst
  31. bubbles
  32. started
  33. looked
  34. offered
  35. summer
  36. brave
  37. expectations
  38. president
  39. respect
  40. scholarship
  41. growth
  42. traveled
  43. planet
  44. remember
  45. dancing
  46. slightly
  47. today
  48. decided
  49. labeled
  50. gripped
  51. realize
  52. black
  53. learned
  54. dream
  55. women
  56. needed
  57. blonde
  58. sister
  59. wanted
  60. international
  61. paper
  62. large
  63. practice
  64. putting
  65. mickey
  66. counselor
  67. humanists
  68. dehumanizes
  69. school
  70. locker
  71. waiting
  72. future
  73. recovered
  74. mariana
  75. america
  76. alleviate
  77. place
  78. crowd
  79. strict
  80. people
  81. family
  82. world
  83. burst
  84. smart
  85. change
  86. station
  87. journalist
  88. sensed
  89. practically
  90. racial
  91. hands
  92. return
  93. barack
  94. bahrain
  95. fatima
  96. shoes
  97. experiment
  98. sitting
  99. understanding
  100. phone
  101. speak
  102. immigrants
  103. special
  104. venezuelan
  105. intolerance
  106. united
  107. brainerd
  108. excited
  109. moment

Original Text

Thank you so much. I am a journalist. My job is to talk to people from all walks of life, all over the world. Today, I want to tell you why I decided to do this with my life and what I've learned. My story begins in Caracas, Venezuela, in South America, where I grew up; a place that to me was, and always will be, filled with magic and wonder. Frоm a very young age, my parents wanted me to have a wider view of the world. I remember one time when I was around seven years old, my dad came up to me and said, "Mariana, I'm going to send you and your little sister..." - who was six at the time - "...to a place where nobody speaks Spanish. I want you to experience different cultures." He went on and on about the benefits of spending an entire summer in this summer camp in the United States, stressing a little phrase that I didn't pay too much attention to at the time: "You never know what the future holds." Meanwhile, in my seven-year-old mind, I was thinking, we were going to get to summer camp in Miami. (Laughter) Maybe it was going to be even better, and we were going to go a little further north, to Orlando, where Mickey Mouse lived. (Laughter) I got really excited. My dad, however, had a slightly different plan. Frоm Caracas, he he sent us to Brainerd, Minnesota. (Laughter) Mickey Mouse was not up there, (Laughter) and with no cell phone, no Snapchat, or Instagram, I couldn't look up any information. We got there, and one of the first things I noticed was that the other kids' hair was several shades of blonde, and most of them had blue eyes. Meanwhile, this is what we looked like. The first night, the camp director gathered everyone around the campfire and said, "Kids, we have a very international camp this year; the Atencios are here from Venezuela." (Laughter) The other kids looked at us as if we were from another planet. They would ask us things like, "Do you know what a hamburger is?" Or, "Do you go to school on a donkey or a canoe?" (Laughter) I would try to answer in my broken English, and they would just laugh. I know they were not trying to be mean; they were just trying to understand who we were, and make a correlation with the world they knew. We could either be like them, or like characters out of a book filled with adventures, like Aladdin or the Jungle Book. We certainly didn't look like them, we didn't speak their language, we were different. When you're seven years old, that hurts. But I had my little sister to take care of, and she cried every day at summer camp. So I decided to put on a brave face, and embrace everything I could about the American way of life. We later did what we called "the summer camp experiment," for eight years in different cities that many Americans haven't even heard of. What I remember most about these moments was when I finally clicked with someone. Making a friend was a special reward. Everybody wants to feel valued and accepted, and we think it should happen spontaneously, but it doesn't. When you're different, you have to work at belonging. You have to be either really helpful, smart, funny, anything to be cool for the crowd you want to hang out with. Later on, when I was in high school, my dad expanded on his summer plan, and from Caracas he sent me to Wallingford, Connecticut, for the senior year of high school. This time, I remember daydreaming on the plane about "the American high school experience" - with a locker. It was going to be perfect, just like in my favorite TV show: "Saved by the Bell." (Laughter) I get there, and they tell me that my assigned roommate is eagerly waiting. I opened the door, and there she was, sitting on the bed, with a headscarf. Her name was Fatima, and she was Muslim from Bahrain, and she was not what I expected. She probably sensed my disappointment when I looked at her because I didn't do too much to hide it. See, as a teenager, I wanted to fit in even more, I wanted to be popular, maybe have a boyfriend for prom, and I felt that Fatima just got in the way with her shyness and her strict dress code. I didn't realize that I was making her feel like the kids at summer camp made me feel. This was the high school equivalent of asking her, "Do you know what a hamburger is?" I was consumed by my own selfishness and unable to put myself in her shoes. I have to be honest with you, we only lasted a couple of months together, because she was later sent to live with a counselor instead of other students. I remember thinking, "Ah, she'll be okay. She's just different." You see, when we label someone as different, it dehumanizes them in a way. They become "the other." They're not worthy of our time, not our problem, and in fact, they, "the other," are probably the cause of our problems. So, how do we recognize our blind spots? It begins by understanding what makes you different, by embracing those traits. Only then can you begin to appreciate what makes others special. I remember when this hit me. It was a couple months after that. I had found that boyfriend for prom, made a group of friends, and practically forgotten about Fatima, until everybody signed on to participate in this talent show for charity. You needed to offer a talent for auction. It seemed like everybody had something special to offer. Some kids were going to play the violin, others were going to recite a theater monologue, and I remember thinking, "We don't practice talents like these back home." But I was determined to find something of value. The day of the talent show comes, and I get up on stage with my little boom box, and put it on the side and press "Play," and a song by my favorite emerging artist, Shakira, comes up. And I go, "Whenever, wherever, we're meant to be together," and I said, "My name is Mariana, and I'm going to auction a dance class." It seemed like the whole school raised their hand to bid. My dance class really stood out from, like, the 10th violin class offered that day. Going back to my dorm room, I didn't feel different. I felt really special. That's when I started thinking about Fatima, a person that I had failed to see as special, when I first met her. She was from the Middle East, just like Shakira's family was from the Middle East. She could have probably taught me a thing or two about belly dancing, had I been open to it. Now, I want you all to take that sticker that was given to you at the beginning of our session today, where you wrote down what makes you special, and I want you to look at it. If you're watching at home, take a piece of paper, and write down what makes you different. You may feel guarded when you look at it, maybe even a little ashamed, maybe even proud. But you need to begin to embrace it. Remember, it is the first step in appreciating what makes others special. When I went back home to Venezuela, I began to understand how these experiences were changing me. Being able to speak different languages, to navigate all these different people and places, it gave me a unique sensibility. I was finally beginning to understand the importance of putting myself in other people's shoes. That is a big part of the reason why I decided to become a journalist. Especially being from a part of the world that is often labeled "the backyard," "the illegal aliens," "third-world," "the others," I wanted to do something to change that. It was right around the time, however, when the Venezuelan government shut down the biggest television station in our country. Censorship was growing, and my dad came up to me once again and said, "How are you going to be a journalist here? You have to leave." That's when it hit me. That's what he had been preparing me for. That is what the future held for me. So in 2008, I packed my bags, and I came to the United States, without a return ticket this time. I was painfully aware that, at 24 years old, I was becoming a refugee of sorts, an immigrant, the other, once again, and now for good. I was able to come on a scholarship to study journalism. I remember when they gave me my first assignment to cover the historic election of President Barack Obama. I felt so lucky, so hopeful. I was, like, "Yes, this is it. I've come to post-racial America, where the notion of us and them is being eroded, and will probably be eradicated in my lifetime." Boy, was I wrong, right? Why didn't Barack Obama's presidency alleviate racial tensions in our country? Why do some people still feel threatened by immigrants, LGBTQ, and minority groups who are just trying to find a space in this United States that should be for all of us? I didn't have the answers back then, but on November 8th, 2016, when Donald Trump became our president, it became clear that a large part of the electorate sees them as "the others." Some see people coming to take their jobs, or potential terrorists who speak a different language. Meanwhile, minority groups oftentimes just see hatred, intolerance, and narrow-mindedness on the other side. It's like we're stuck in these bubbles that nobody wants to burst. The only way to do it, the only way to get out of it is to realize that being different also means thinking differently. It takes courage to show respect. In the words of Voltaire: "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it." Failing to see anything good on the other side makes a dialogue impossible. Without a dialogue, we will keep repeating the same mistakes, because we will not learn anything new. I covered the 2016 election for NBC News. It was my first big assignment in this mainstream network, where I had crossed over from Spanish television. And I wanted to do something different. I watched election results with undocumented families. Few thought of sharing that moment with people who weren't citizens, but actually stood the most to lose that night. When it became apparent that Donald Trump was winning, this eight-year-old girl named Angelina rushed up to me in tears. She sobbed, and she asked me if her mom was going to be deported now. I hugged her back and I said, "It's going to be okay," but I really didn't know. This was the photo we took that night, forever ingrained in my heart. Here was this little girl who was around the same age I was when I went to camp in Brainerd. She already knows she is "the other." She walks home from school in fear, every day, that her mom can be taken away. So, how do we put ourselves in Angelina's shoes? How do we make her understand she is special, and not simply unworthy of having her family together? By giving camera time to her and families like hers, I tried to make people see them as human beings, and not simply "illegal aliens." Yes, they broke a law, and they should pay a penalty for it, but they've also given everything for this country, like many other immigrants before them have. I've already told you how my path to personal growth started. To end, I want to tell you how I hit the worst bump in the road yet, one that shook me to my very core. The day, April 10th, 2014, I was driving to the studio, and I got a call from my parents. "Are you on the air?" they asked. I immediately knew something was wrong. "What happened?" I said. "It's your sister; she's been in a car accident." It was as if my heart stopped. My hands gripped the steering wheel, and I remember hearing the words: "It is unlikely she will ever walk again." They say your life can change in a split second. Mine did at that moment. My sister went from being my successful other half, only a year apart in age, to not being able to move her legs, sit up, or get dressed by herself. This wasn't like summer camp, where I could magically make it better. This was terrifying. Throughout the course of two years, my sister underwent 15 surgeries, and she spent the most of that time in a wheelchair. But that wasn't even the worst of it. The worst was something so painful, it's hard to put into words, even now. It was the way people looked at her, looked at us, changed. People were unable to see a successful lawyer or a millennial with a sharp wit and a kind heart. Everywhere we went, I realized that people just saw a poor girl in a wheelchair. They were unable to see anything beyond that. After fighting like a warrior, I can thankfully tell you that today my sister is walking, and has recovered beyond anyone's expectations. (Applause) Thank you. But during that traumatic ordeal, I learned there are differences that simply suck, and it's hard to find positive in them. My sister's not better off because of what happened. But she taught me: you can't let those differences define you. Being able to reimagine yourself beyond what other people see, that is the toughest task of all, but it's also the most beautiful. You see, we all come to this world in a body. People with physical or neurological difficulties, environmentally impacted communities, immigrants, boys, girls, boys who want to dress as girls, girls with veils, women who have been sexually assaulted, athletes who bend their knee as a sign of protest, black, white, Asian, Native American, my sister, you, or me. We all want what everyone wants: to dream and to achieve. But sometimes, society tells us, and we tell ourselves, we don't fit the mold. Well, if you look at my story, from being born somewhere different, to belly dancing in high school, to telling stories you wouldn't normally see on TV, what makes me different is what has made me stand out and be successful. I have traveled the world, and talked to people from all walks of life. You know what I've learned? The single thing every one of us has in common is being human. So take a stand to defend your race, the human race. Let's appeal to it. Let's be humanists, before and after everything else. To end, I want you to take that sticker, that piece of paper where you wrote down what makes you different, and I want you to celebrate it today and every day, shout it from the rooftops. I also encourage you to be curious and ask, "What is on other people's pieces of paper?" "What makes them different?" Let's celebrate those imperfections that make us special. I hope that it teaches you that nobody has a claim on the word "normal." We are all different. We are all quirky, and unique, and that is what makes us wonderfully human. Thank you so much. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
summer camp 5
high school 3
mickey mouse 2
talent show 2
minority groups 2
donald trump 2

Important Words

  1. accepted
  2. accident
  3. achieve
  4. adventures
  5. age
  6. agree
  7. air
  8. aladdin
  9. aliens
  10. alleviate
  11. america
  12. american
  13. americans
  14. angelina
  15. answer
  16. answers
  17. apparent
  18. appeal
  19. applause
  20. appreciating
  21. april
  22. artist
  23. ashamed
  24. asian
  25. asked
  26. assaulted
  27. assigned
  28. assignment
  29. atencios
  30. athletes
  31. attention
  32. auction
  33. aware
  34. backyard
  35. bags
  36. bahrain
  37. barack
  38. beautiful
  39. bed
  40. began
  41. beginning
  42. begins
  43. beings
  44. bell
  45. belly
  46. belonging
  47. bend
  48. benefits
  49. bid
  50. big
  51. biggest
  52. black
  53. blind
  54. blonde
  55. blue
  56. body
  57. book
  58. boom
  59. born
  60. box
  61. boy
  62. boyfriend
  63. boys
  64. brainerd
  65. brave
  66. broke
  67. broken
  68. bubbles
  69. bump
  70. burst
  71. call
  72. called
  73. camera
  74. camp
  75. campfire
  76. canoe
  77. car
  78. caracas
  79. care
  80. celebrate
  81. cell
  82. censorship
  83. change
  84. changed
  85. changing
  86. characters
  87. charity
  88. cities
  89. citizens
  90. claim
  91. class
  92. clear
  93. clicked
  94. code
  95. coming
  96. common
  97. communities
  98. connecticut
  99. consumed
  100. cool
  101. core
  102. correlation
  103. counselor
  104. country
  105. couple
  106. courage
  107. cover
  108. covered
  109. cried
  110. crossed
  111. crowd
  112. cultures
  113. curious
  114. dad
  115. dance
  116. dancing
  117. day
  118. daydreaming
  119. death
  120. decided
  121. defend
  122. define
  123. dehumanizes
  124. deported
  125. determined
  126. dialogue
  127. differences
  128. differently
  129. difficulties
  130. director
  131. disappointment
  132. donald
  133. donkey
  134. door
  135. dorm
  136. dream
  137. dress
  138. dressed
  139. driving
  140. eagerly
  141. east
  142. election
  143. electorate
  144. embrace
  145. embracing
  146. emerging
  147. encourage
  148. english
  149. entire
  150. environmentally
  151. equivalent
  152. eradicated
  153. eroded
  154. excited
  155. expanded
  156. expectations
  157. expected
  158. experience
  159. experiences
  160. experiment
  161. eyes
  162. face
  163. fact
  164. failed
  165. failing
  166. families
  167. family
  168. fatima
  169. favorite
  170. fear
  171. feel
  172. felt
  173. fight
  174. fighting
  175. filled
  176. finally
  177. find
  178. fit
  179. forgotten
  180. friend
  181. friends
  182. frоm
  183. funny
  184. future
  185. gathered
  186. gave
  187. girl
  188. girls
  189. giving
  190. good
  191. government
  192. grew
  193. gripped
  194. group
  195. groups
  196. growing
  197. growth
  198. guarded
  199. hair
  200. hamburger
  201. hand
  202. hands
  203. hang
  204. happen
  205. happened
  206. hard
  207. hatred
  208. headscarf
  209. heard
  210. hearing
  211. heart
  212. held
  213. helpful
  214. hide
  215. high
  216. historic
  217. hit
  218. holds
  219. home
  220. honest
  221. hope
  222. hopeful
  223. hugged
  224. human
  225. humanists
  226. hurts
  227. illegal
  228. immediately
  229. immigrant
  230. immigrants
  231. impacted
  232. imperfections
  233. importance
  234. impossible
  235. information
  236. ingrained
  237. instagram
  238. international
  239. intolerance
  240. job
  241. jobs
  242. journalism
  243. journalist
  244. jungle
  245. kids
  246. kind
  247. knee
  248. knew
  249. label
  250. labeled
  251. language
  252. languages
  253. large
  254. lasted
  255. laugh
  256. laughter
  257. law
  258. lawyer
  259. learn
  260. learned
  261. leave
  262. legs
  263. lgbtq
  264. life
  265. lifetime
  266. live
  267. lived
  268. locker
  269. looked
  270. lose
  271. lucky
  272. magic
  273. magically
  274. mainstream
  275. making
  276. mariana
  277. means
  278. meant
  279. met
  280. miami
  281. mickey
  282. middle
  283. millennial
  284. mind
  285. minnesota
  286. minority
  287. mistakes
  288. mold
  289. mom
  290. moment
  291. moments
  292. monologue
  293. months
  294. mouse
  295. move
  296. muslim
  297. named
  298. native
  299. navigate
  300. nbc
  301. needed
  302. network
  303. neurological
  304. news
  305. night
  306. north
  307. noticed
  308. notion
  309. november
  310. obama
  311. offer
  312. offered
  313. oftentimes
  314. open
  315. opened
  316. ordeal
  317. orlando
  318. packed
  319. painful
  320. painfully
  321. paper
  322. parents
  323. part
  324. participate
  325. path
  326. pay
  327. penalty
  328. people
  329. perfect
  330. person
  331. personal
  332. phone
  333. photo
  334. phrase
  335. physical
  336. piece
  337. pieces
  338. place
  339. places
  340. plan
  341. plane
  342. planet
  343. play
  344. poor
  345. popular
  346. positive
  347. potential
  348. practically
  349. practice
  350. preparing
  351. presidency
  352. president
  353. press
  354. problem
  355. problems
  356. prom
  357. protest
  358. proud
  359. put
  360. putting
  361. quirky
  362. race
  363. racial
  364. raised
  365. realize
  366. realized
  367. reason
  368. recite
  369. recognize
  370. recovered
  371. refugee
  372. reimagine
  373. remember
  374. repeating
  375. respect
  376. results
  377. return
  378. reward
  379. road
  380. rooftops
  381. room
  382. roommate
  383. rushed
  384. scholarship
  385. school
  386. sees
  387. selfishness
  388. send
  389. senior
  390. sensed
  391. sensibility
  392. session
  393. sexually
  394. shades
  395. shakira
  396. sharing
  397. sharp
  398. shoes
  399. shook
  400. shout
  401. show
  402. shut
  403. shyness
  404. side
  405. sign
  406. signed
  407. simply
  408. single
  409. sister
  410. sit
  411. sitting
  412. slightly
  413. smart
  414. snapchat
  415. sobbed
  416. society
  417. song
  418. sorts
  419. south
  420. space
  421. spanish
  422. speak
  423. speaks
  424. special
  425. spending
  426. spent
  427. split
  428. spontaneously
  429. spots
  430. stage
  431. stand
  432. started
  433. states
  434. station
  435. steering
  436. step
  437. sticker
  438. stood
  439. stopped
  440. stories
  441. story
  442. stressing
  443. strict
  444. stuck
  445. students
  446. studio
  447. study
  448. successful
  449. suck
  450. summer
  451. surgeries
  452. takes
  453. talent
  454. talents
  455. talk
  456. talked
  457. task
  458. taught
  459. teaches
  460. tears
  461. teenager
  462. television
  463. telling
  464. tells
  465. tensions
  466. terrifying
  467. terrorists
  468. thankfully
  469. theater
  470. thinking
  471. thought
  472. threatened
  473. ticket
  474. time
  475. today
  476. told
  477. toughest
  478. traits
  479. traumatic
  480. traveled
  481. trump
  482. tv
  483. unable
  484. understand
  485. understanding
  486. underwent
  487. undocumented
  488. unique
  489. united
  490. unworthy
  491. valued
  492. veils
  493. venezuela
  494. venezuelan
  495. view
  496. violin
  497. waiting
  498. walk
  499. walking
  500. walks
  501. wallingford
  502. wanted
  503. warrior
  504. watched
  505. watching
  506. wheel
  507. wheelchair
  508. white
  509. wider
  510. winning
  511. wit
  512. women
  513. wonderfully
  514. word
  515. words
  516. work
  517. world
  518. worst
  519. worthy
  520. write
  521. wrong
  522. wrote
  523. year
  524. years
  525. young