Yes You Can- My TEDx Speech

Maria-Tsiana-speaks-at-TEDxUniversity-of-Patras.It was one of the most important moments of my life. The first TEDx Patras which took place on November 1st, 2014, and was marked with great success, inspired me to go a step further.

Special thanks for the invitation and the great work of all the organizers, my fellow speakers, and the students of Patras University.

Watch the full keynote here:


My name is Mary Tsiana. I have attended three TEDx presentations in Thessaloniki and it is a great pleasure to be here today.
The title of my keynote is “Yes You Can” and it refers to dyslexia, how it affected me, and it still does, and how I managed to address it and base a creative idea on my weakness.
Where do I struggle?
Reading. If you read line by line, I read up and down, right and left, seeing things from all directions. I have the “wild eyes”. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense what I read. When I was little I used to get upset with myself and left all my books after a while, not being able to finish any of them. No matter if they were school books, history or literature.
In the last few years, after discovering that I am dyslexic, I’ve started making fun of what I read and I’ve accepted it as part of my life.
I regularly confuse 3 with e and other similar letters, depending on their position in the word. Every time I write something I wonder if people will understand what I mean and if it makes sense at all. I am also that friend, who calls everybody else because of being lost – no sense of orientation. If you want directions, I’m the one to ask…
I struggle with exams too. I over-stress and time is never enough. It’s happened a lot to read the right question but place the answer under the wrong one.
I never was a good student, and most of my teachers used to say that I was “just not getting it” and I would “never manage to finish school or go to college”. And when I finally did, this was like a surprise for me too, I had lost my confidence because of hearing all these things for years.
The Greek society wants all our kids to be doctors, lawyers, economists, researchers at NASA, or working in the public sector. So if a kid says they want to be an actor like Keira Knightley, an artist like Picasso, a dancer like Aakash Odedra, an athlete like Magic Johnson, a reporter like Gareth Cook, etc. parents think they are not going to make a living. All of the above are dyslexics.
Technology helped me a lot. Overcoming all difficulties – from the autocorrect to having maps on my phone has improved my life.
And this is how the idea of 3asyR came about. Online reading was still occasionally difficult so I decided to import my paper reading techniques into reading from the screen. Underlining and highlighting while I read helps me stay focused and my eyes don’t jump around from one word to the other. 3asyR is a plug-in tool, currently operating on Google Chrome, and utilizes the above features. In the upcoming updates, we have increased font, special dyslexic font, marking, underlining, and bookmarking.
How does it work?
If you left-click on the first word of a paragraph, you see it highlighted and by moving right as you read, the words get highlighted one by one. You follow the path of the cursor and focus easier on what you read without jumping lines and paragraphs. We plan to make 3asyR available for all browsers and pages on the web.
Our team consists of four people, myself, Alex Binopoulos, our developer; We met at a start-up event and he’s been the heart of the project ever since. I call him Alex the Great. Billy is a friend of Alex’s and he’s helped as well with the design. Martin I. Petrov is my fellow graduate from Uni, here in Greece, he is a journalist and interpreter, and very charismatic. He’s handling our press and communications. (Vasiliki Chrysovitsiotis is a newly added member of the team as our graphic designer). I thank them for believing and trusting the project and sharing my idea to make online reading ‘3asyR’.
My vision is to see the schools more free, open, and interactivea school for all. And without heavy exams, but where teachers work and stimulate a good relationship with their students. What we find in certain universities should be adopted from much earlier in the educational pyramid. I hated school as much as I loved being at uni. I could go back and study over and over but would never return to school, because it was an extremely stressful experience. Even with vocal examination instead of writing, I was always afraid to face the examiner and of course, there was always something I would forget. At Uni I could choose the subjects that required teamwork or project work, instead of the so impersonal exams. I found them so creative and collaborative. It enhances your talent and makes you learn by researching and discovering the things you like. Many will say that I am a dreamer, but as John Lennon once said: “You may say I am a dreamer but I am not the only one”. I hope so.
I think we can all do things – never let people tell you that you’re unable to do something, as they used to tell me a lot. We are all good in something, no person isn’t good in at least one thing. We just need to find it and master it. We always need an aim, something to fight for, and say “ I can do it”, cause even if you don’t after all, you can always say that you tried and go to the next one. Sometimes five new opportunities arise from something you didn’t succeed in. Be yourself, listen to your heart and instincts and you will find what you’re looking for. Thank you.

TEDx University of Patras

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