Parramatta’s TEDx talk was born after a moment of cultural cringe for organiser Jonathan Champ.
‘‘I was talking to some people about bringing an organisation out to Parramatta as a permanent base, and what was interesting at the point in time there was this moment of baulk,’’ Champ recalled.
‘‘And I thought that’s not right; what would it take to get rid of that pause, to take that pause out of the equation.
‘‘And I thought Parramatta needs a coming-of-age story, it needs something that says here's a celebration of who we are and what we are and how we exist and the diversity and the richness and the maturity of the people that are here.
‘‘It was literally after walking out of that session that I put together a case and I did this (TEDx) and I thought this is a beginning, this something that should grow over time and hopefully be the first of many, many TEDx Parramatta’s.’’
The inspiring words were just starting when Champ made his introduction.
What followed was a series of inspired people from western Sydney talking about their ideas and how they wanted to unite people and grow community.
Thelma Thomas, aka MC Trey, spoke of her up bringing in western Sydney after moving from her birth country of Fiji.
‘‘I do remember the name calling, the racist taunts, the treatment, I felt different . . . I didn’t last long in school,’’ she said.
Many Pacific Islanders in western Sydney were treated as outsiders, Thomas said, and so acted as outsiders — turning to drugs and crime.
But Thomas found solace and confidence in the self expression of hip hop.
‘‘I found peace in Sydney’s hip hop community, within music I found solace and felt comfortable in finally being able to express myself and share myself, my stories, through these urban elements of expression.
‘‘I look back at the Pacific Islander and Maori kids I hung out with when I was a young kid growing up here in Parramatta; many of them first and second generation migrants.
‘‘I recall hanging out with them down on the street, under the bridge, the drug and alcohol abuse, the crime, and I thank goodness that I had a creative outlet.’’
Thomas continued her story. Her passion, she said, was now sharing that creative outlet and helping other young Pacific Islanders find themselves and their culture.
Hip hop artist and producer L-Fresh the Lion encapsulated the TEDx theme when he talked of his desire to inspire people to follow their dreams.
‘‘When you have a vision, you don’t rely on an external source like the sun, you become your own light,’’ he said.
‘‘When you have vision, you become the light and you become what you’re meant to be.’’