The Carlswald Preparatory School Grade 6 learner is one of two South African children who have been chosen to deliver their talks at the annual TED-Ed Weekend event. Picture: Supplied

Excited. Anxious. Overjoyed. These are the words 12-year-old Ayanda Bokaba used when describing how she feels about jetting off to New York in the next few days.

The Carlswald Preparatory School Grade 6 learner is one of two South African children who have been chosen to deliver their talks at the annual TED-Ed Weekend event in the US.

Bokaba's talk: “How criticism affects people’s confidence", is one that she feels very passion about. "I think it's very relatable, and everyone has gone through it," she says.

"I’m trying to explain how people can be comfortable in their own skin, and how to find the positives in the negatives."

The TED-ED weekend (Nov 17 - 18) is an annual gathering of students from around the world, who participate in TED-Ed Clubs, designed to amplify the voices of the next generation of TED. 

The TED-Ed team in New York spent months reviewing hundreds of talks uploaded by Clubs like Think Ahead's and ended up choosing a select group of passionate speakers, including Bokaba and Boipelo Moagi (Roedean School).

The Think Ahead TED-Ed Club ran a thirteen-week public speaking curriculum prepared by TED to help participants from schools across Gauteng discover and develop their ideas to deliver their own TED-style talk. 

Michelle Lissoos, managing director at Think Ahead, commented, “Think Ahead believes strongly in giving young SA a voice. We ensure all our programmes instil key 21st century skills in the students that participate. 

"That is why we were so excited to offer our partner schools the TED-Ed programme. We are so proud of Boipelo and Ayanda – and can’t wait to hear their voices from the NY TED stage.”

As Bokaba prepares for her week-long trip to New York, she sounds like she's well-prepared and not at all afraid of what to expect. Instead, she's quite looking forward to it. 

I ask if she might consider a career in public speaking. "I want to become a photographer, but my mom says I must be a surgeon because I am precise," she answers confidently.

Her teacher Rhian Johnson chuckles in the background, laughing: "She's right. She's very precise!"