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Dream coming true for Squamish student

Rory MacDonald is excited to speak at youth version of adventure talks
Howe Sound Secondary student Rory MacDonald jumps for joy over being selected to speak at the FEAT speaker series.

For Howe Sound Secondary student Rory MacDonald, 17, being selected to speak at this spring’s youth version of the Fascinating Expedition and Adventure Talks (FEAT) is a step towards making his ultimate dream come true.

“I heard about the talks in my school’s leadership class and I immediately thought it was like TED Talks,” said MacDonald. “That is my dream, to be up on the TED Talks stage, and so I was super excited.” 

For those not familiar, TED Talks are online video versions of the best talks given at the widely popular global Technology, Entertainment, Design conferences that boast themselves as highlighting speakers who have innovative ideas worth sharing.

FEAT Kids and its adult version, FEAT, follow a format similar to the famous conferences. With the adventure talks, nine chosen speakers share their stories of adventure in seven-minute presentations meant to inspire others to take on travel expeditions of their own. 

MacDonald’s friend nominated him as a presenter and eventually he got the email to say he had been chosen to present at this year’s talks. 

MacDonald already has the chops as a public speaker. 

He has presented in his role as a member of his school’s Rotary Interact Club, which provides programs to help potential leaders develop their skills.

He also speaks quite often to Howe Sound Secondary’s Diversity Club.“And I am just a speaker in general,” he said with a laugh.

He doesn’t want to reveal much about the talk he will give for FEAT Kids but said he will focus on the importance of multiculturalism and languages.“I believe our school system lacks when it  comes to learning about different cultures and different languages,” he said. 

MacDonald said a year-long youth international exchange he took to Germany in 2013 had a powerful impact on him and deepened his beliefs about the importance of exchanges and exposure to various languages and cultures.

“To learn about one’s culture is really to learn about yourself,” he said.

MacDonald aims to share his international experience with his peers and hopefully inspire them to go on their own exchanges. 

The first-ever FEAT Kids was held in Squamish last April at Quest University Canada and attracted so many youth, this year the event has moved to a larger venue.

The 600-seat theatre in North Vancouver where the show will take place March 4 has already been filled, said its organizer, Squamish resident Sean Verret. “We invited schools from all over the Lower Mainland and within a week we had filled the whole theatre. We were just like, Oh my god,” Verret said with a laugh. 

“These schools have already committed to coming, so we are pretty excited about that.” 

As for MacDonald, he already has his sights set on what he will do once he has presented at FEAT Kids.

“I plan on contacting TED Talks,” he said.

This year’s second annual free FEAT Kids event will be held at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver on March 4.