Brother Number One

Rob shares his journey at TEDxChCh

Late last year I had the privilege of giving a TED talk in Christchurch. I was invited by Kaila Colbin, whom I had met at a Climate Project seminar in 2009 in Melbourne.

TED ( stands for Technology Education Design and its strap line is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. Presentations go for 10-20 min, are streamed live on the net and remain available for public viewing online.

Rather than speak on rowing the Atlantic, which is the norm for me, I was asked to talk about my brother's story, Cambodia and the film, Brother Number One.


I knew immediately that I would accept the invitation, but deep down I was anxious. I had given a few talks on Kerry in recent months, but they weren't going out on the web for all to see.

Whatever I delivered would need to be succinct, entertaining and have a strong message. But it would also need to be delivered without faltering. I couldn’t guarantee I would tick any of the boxes but it was the ‘without faltering’ one that I was most concerned about. In previous speeches about Kerry, I had had to take a moment to control my emotions, at some point. In particular in speaking of my parents' pain it sometimes choked me up completely, and I'd be unable to continue for a few breaths. This has proven to be a sticking point many a time in the film, as well. Whenever I found myself discussing my parents, following Annie’s questioning, it would deeply affect me.

TEDxCHCH had a line up of extraordinary people, telling unique and fascinating stories. The day was nothing short of inspiring. I was second to last and hearing the enlightened, and often hilarious speakers did nothing for my nerves.

I wanted the speech to make people consider what they would do in a similar situation to me.


Kim Russo - 20 Feb 11
I was at TEDxChCh and I thought you did a brilliant job Rob. What I personally took away from it was how awesome your parents were. Your mother sounds like someone I aspire to be.

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