TED@UPS: What If Assimilation Doesn’t Require Cultural Sacrifice?

Amelia reclaimed her shunned identity through dance. Now she shares her heritage with the world.

After moving from Indonesia to Pennsylvania, Amelia Laytham shunned her Indonesian heritage to assimilate to American culture. But Amelia eventually learned that she should embrace – not conceal – her upbringing.

Amelia shares that story in her TED@UPS talk featured below. After watching the video, read our Q&A with Amelia where she discusses her experience giving the talk and what she hopes people will learn from it.

Q. What was the most enlightening surprise from the TED@UPS experience and why?

The most enlightening surprise from the TED@UPS experience was the amount of support I received.

I didn’t think that my experience was that relatable or worth sharing.

But after my first conversation with my TED coach and the TED team, they convinced me otherwise, and who would know better than the TED team?

Then when I met the rest of the UPS speakers and the team who hosted the event, and they were so intrigued by my talk – I knew there was a purpose behind sharing my experience.

Since then, people with similar journeys have reached out to me.

At some point in our lives, we all made sacrifices and lost part of our identity trying to fit in, but that felt incomplete.

Now it feels good to embrace the real me, and that’s worth sharing.

Q. What do you hope people take from your talk?

What I hope people take from my talk is that you don’t have to give up a part of yourself to evolve and be the real you.

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At some point in our lives, we all made sacrifices and lost part of our identity trying to fit in.

We often think that our differences are a hindrance, but they make us unique. For some people, it does take a bit of an effort to come to terms and accept themselves.

But if you don’t, there’s going to be a part of you that’s longing for that missing piece, and you won’t feel truly like yourself until you do.

So whatever that missing piece is, find it, embrace it and find the courage to be proud of it.

Q. How did giving a TED@UPS talk inspire you?

Giving the TED@UPS talk inspired me to continue to be proud of who I am.

I still dance and perform to show off my heritage.

My daughters are busy with school and sports, but they do come with me to Indonesian events and watch me perform.

If not through dance, they are still being exposed to their Indonesian half.

Eventually my goal is to teach them to speak Indonesian, so wish me luck! It also has given me much-needed confidence in my daily life.

People seem to think that I’ve mastered public speaking, which is not true. But if I can survive the TED talk experience, I can pretty much handle anything!

Giving the talk pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have become a better version of myself because of it.

Q. What encouragement would you give people thinking about giving a TED@UPS talk in the future?  

I’m no more unique, innovative, creative or forward-thinking than anyone else.

Everyone has an idea worth sharing. You just need to invest the time to channel that idea in a way that is compelling, engaging and fascinating.

If you are passionate about your idea and share it with enthusiasm, people will be compelled, engaged and fascinated.

I have grown so much. I want others to have the chance to experience it as well, especially UPSers from various districts.

And if they feel threatened by a dreaded presentation, remember that giving a TED talk is not presenting. It is having a conversation.

Anyone can do that! goldbrown2

Click here for Amelia’s bio.


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Amelia Laytham is a Marketing Manager at UPS.

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