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Jason Hsu, Shares Good Stories to Inspire Others
Messages from the founder of TEDxTaipei
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-06 08:31 AM
As a sense of job insecurity permeates the private sector, many youths are looking for a more stable job offer in government. Schools have been run mostly based on utilitarianism in the hope of seeing students being sent to the best schools and departments to embrace a bright future. People tend to play safe and do things much alike. For how many people can choose a path less traveled by and lead the group to think differently?

Jason Hsu is one of them, a man in his mid-30s who worked for the Taiwan News for a year as a translator and then traveled around the world as a backpacker for over six months. Jason started a business with a friend in California and introduced TEDxTaipei platform to the Taiwan market in 2009. He then became a curator and founder of TEDxTaipei, a non-profit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading, and also an ambassador of TEDxAsia.

This October, he started another new business concerning 3D printing in hopes of helping more people to create new things and to fulfill their dreams.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Jason knows the local education system well. He saw the problems in society and hoped to change them by introducing new ideas, creating momentum, and exploding “narrow frame” thinking to unleash great ideas.

■ Alternative education

Taiwan’s Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai pointed out earlier this year that Taiwanese read an average of two books per year, putting them behind neighboring countries in terms of reading habits which has raised concerns about national competitiveness. To promote national competitiveness and to cope with declining wages, many experts and scholars have been encouraging Taiwanese to develop creativity and knowledge through incessant learning and reading.

Also in an October work shop, Jason encouraged the audience to step out of their comfort zone and keep learning after graduation. He took himself as an example: he joined tens of thousands of people signing up for free online courses, including computer languages, offered by top schools around the world. Jason also sees TED talks as a non-conventional type of alternative education, where a diversity of speakers from across several disciplines is invited to address a variety of topics, such as technology, business, design, science, social science, environment, and other global issues, so as to spark creativity and possibilities.

TEDxTaipei was brought to Taiwan in 2009, providing a platform where people can exchange great ideas and stories surrounding this island to inspire another. Jason and his TEDxTaipei team have been dedicated to discovering the people and stories on the island and spreading them in the hope of passing them down to next generations and helping people to develop an independent thinking ability. An official TED app for Android phone is now also available with streaming video and audio.

Jason recognizes that education lays the foundation for future competitiveness and also thinks that education should not be limited to textbooks, so he also promotes discussions of TED talks at schools. However, the project of TED talks at school does not proceed smoothly as school authorities still put emphasis on test scores instead of mind revolution.

“Cleverness, passion, and curiosity are three essential qualities required in the future job market,” said Jason in an interview with Taiwan News. He pointed out if people think and do things much alike, it would jeopardize the progress of a country.

■ To think, and to create

Driven by passion and curiosity, Jason started a company named MakerBar Taipei featuring a Do-It-Yourself 3D drawing and printing operation. MakerBar is a combination of two words, maker and bar. The former stands for an individual who creates products or gadgets. The latter mean a space where passionate makers can find other like-minded people from all walks of life in this space to exchange new ideas, stories, and even work together. “MakerBar is a creative and productive small community,” said Jason.

At the MakerBar, people design and create new gadgets for either commercial or personal use. People can even get their new creations mass produced as long as they can raise enough money at crowdfunding sites. In this experimental space, anything is possible.

Speaking of start-up challenges, “frustrations happen all the time,” said Jason. “Without passion in life, it’s hard to carry on,” he continued. When asked to share a word with youth, Jason paused and spoke tenderly: “Ask big questions, choose your own path.”

■ Latest event: TEDxTaipei Women - The Power Within

TED has been giving out licenses for local communities around the world to host TED-like events since 2009. TEDxTaipei was established in the same year. TEDxTaipei organizes an annual one-day event, workshops, and accumulates over a hundred talk video clips with speakers including the founder of Acer Group Stan Shih, leading Taiwanese female dancer Fang-yi Hsu, and writer Xun Jing.

Most of the speakers so far invited to share stories at TEDxTaipei events have been males, but this Friday at Neo 19 studio in the Xinyi District, TEDxTaipei will hold an annual event featuring female speakers with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to share their stories to give both female and male audiences a new perspective on life.

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