Hello again! I hope you’ve been having an amazing summer so far, as it is (begrudgingly) coming to an end. My summer for the most part has been great – I studied abroad in the beautiful country of New Zealand, I’ve lost some of the weight I gained while studying abroad in the beautiful country of New Zealand, and overall I’ve actually been enjoying the summer that has been gifted to me this year. I say that in a surprising manner because typically I have a very cynical view of summer; I’ve always thought people romanticized it too much. Let me share an unpopular opinion: summer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Here’s a short list of things that describe my experience with summer:
It’s about a 10 to one ratio of thunderstorms to sunny days,
The humidity not only ruins any attempt you’ve made with your hair, but it completely reverses everything you achieved by showering,
You can’t do anything about searing heat (that doesn’t involve racking up your electric and utility bills),
It’s always too hot to do something as simple as take a walk or ride my bike without becoming burnt and/or generally miserable, and
When it finally does cool down as the world darkens, there are bugs…EVERYWHERE.

With all that said, I’m happy with the way things have been. But I can’t help if it’s because my cynicism has shifted to everything else happening in the world. As the summer is coming to an end, it sometimes feels as though the rest of the world is, too. I know that is a dramatic statement, but while this summer has been filled with much more forgiving weather and unforgettable adventures for myself, it has been more miserable than ever for so many others. Anything from the murders of unarmed black men, to the toxic and even abhorrent rhetoric in America’s upcoming presidential election, to the ever-increasing tensions in the Middle East, to the tragedies that stretched from Orlando to Nice to west Tokyo, to even the death of the beloved Harambe the Gorilla, right next to me at the Cincinnati Zoo…the world feels more polarized – and helpless – than ever.

But maybe there is a way to find solace – and solutions – in these trying times for so many people around the world. TED Talks have been a source of education, inspiration, and escape for me, and I know I don’t speak for myself when I say that. So I recently discovered a few talks that I thought could teach me a little something about making a better world – whether it was putting the struggles of others into perspective, or providing reassurance that I am capable of making a difference (turns out hash-tagging and re-sharing things on social media doesn’t actually do a whole lot…sorry, my cynicism is leaking again).

I’ve chosen to include a variety of talks for you to check out – they have light moments, serious messages, and they all instilled knowledge and faith into me, and I hope it does the same for you. If you haven’t seen these talks before, you will love them. If you have seen them, then you know they’re worth watching again.

Bryan Stevenson - We need to talk about an injustice

Zak Ebrahim - I am the son of a terrorist. Here's how I chose peace.

Maz Jobrani - A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian walk into a Qatari bar ...

Jody Williams - A realistic vision for world peace

Enjoy the rest of your summer, lead with kindness, and in the words of Leonard Nimoy’s famous character, Mr. Spock, “Live long and prosper.” Also, if you haven’t seen Star Trek Beyond yet, what are you doing? It has my coveted certification of being the movie of the summer.
(Sorry I needed to end on something light-hearted; you as the reader deserved it after making it through this post.)