Before TED 2011 opens on Monday, there was a workshop up in Palm Desert for people who had organized a TEDx event. It brought together an amazing array of people from all over the world.
The bus ride from Long Beach, where several of us are staying, was an adventure in itself. The people broke out like this - a lady from San Francisco who had organized a TEDxYouth conference , a guy from Connecticut who runs a series of TEDx events within Pfizer, the woman who masterminded TEDxAcademy in Athens (named after Plato's Academy), the people who organized TEDxIstanbul, TEDxSantiago and TEDx HongKong, and of course yours truly of TEDxIBYork.
What I found rather amazing, though, was that there were three Canadians on the bus. You wouldn't think so from the above description, huh? Well, Leo from Santiago was a Chilean who took refuge in Canada during the military dictatorship in Chile. He became a Canadian citizen, before he and his parents returned to Chile where he now lives. And Jose who runs TEDxHongKong (yup - you got it, Jose from HongKong) was born in Mexico. He came to Canada and became a citizen and still owns his home in Winnipeg while teaching at unversity in Hong Kong.
At the evening party, Jose and Leo and I got to talking about Canada's cultural mosaic and how proud we all were of that culture. Leo told a funny story. When he was living in Montreal, he was a fervent left-winger, having fled a country run by a right-wing dictatorship supported by American imperialists. His best friend was a Pole who was an ardent rightist, having fled a left-wing dictatorship supported by Russian imperialists. He believed that only in Canada would they have ended up best friends.