By: Anthony Veltri, Guest Writer, and Alina Buzgar, News & Features Editor
April 18 marked the fruition of a bold vision: TEDxYouth@Glendale organized by Thunderbird school and students and offered to both T-birds and the larger youth community in the West Valley. 12 speakers took the stage and over 400 people were in attendance. Here is the story of what happened.
Before 9 am, the TEC was bustling with determined volunteers working hard to finish the set-up of the welcome booths, the conference room, and even a green room. Colorful lanyards lined the tables and sponsors decorated their booths with books and artwork. Once the clock struck 9 am and the preparation began to slow, the team waited anxiously for the audience to arrive. For the next one hour more than 350 students from all over the West Valley arrived on the Thunderbird campus, eager to listen and explore. Happily, an equally excited team greeted them and upon entering the hall they quickly grabbed the welcome bags on their seats; along with a book and some goodies they now had the event program. It was going to be an amazing experience and anticipation was building up.
The overarching theme, #WorldInMind, provided context to the talks that were arranged in two sessions: The Word and The Mind. Paul Yanson started the day and he, to the delight of the teens, used a stuffed cow with a cape to transmit his idea: “What makes a superhero”. The event began to build up from here. Olenka Cullinan and Chelsea Fine followed, and they continued to focus on the world around us and how we engage with it, isolating on gender issues and preconceived ideas about what is attainable. Pianist, Josh Stefanski, wowed the crowd with his talent and
gave them a special treat when he played the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song blindfolded. Queue Robert Dunger to speak about music creation and the brain, followed by Sugata Mitra’s talk on education: “School in the cloud”. While the audience was seated, enjoying the show, the event staff was in constant motion. Just outside the darkened conference room volunteers had the lunch tables and refreshments ready and the booths all set up. The timing was perfect and just as the final boxes were on the table, the audience started their applause for the final speakers: the teen entrepreneurs Caroline Ahlgreen and Lexie Priniski who talked about how “Rejection is Outdated”.
The exit for intermission was swift as all the attendees rushed out, hungry for a bite to eat and eager to explore. They grabbed their boxes of goodies and fanned out to eat on the lawn talking excitedly about all they heard making new friends in the process. Body & Brain booth offered Aura readings, Rebecca Tinkle signed books, and the Thunderbird Undergraduate staff was ready to answer questions and showcase their programs to hundreds of high-school students. TEMBA Bazaar, set-up in the old pub by members of various culture clubs on campus, quickly crowded with teens eager to learn more about the world. There were immediately hundreds of students lined up and dancing on Latin American tunes, playing US trivia, solving European map puzzles, getting their names written in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Hindi, and learning how you wear a scarf in the Middle East. Our sports clubs, set up on the rugby field, created quite a buzz and offered many exciting first-time experiences as they played cricket, golf and rugby with Glendale youth. But that’s not all. The FRC Robotics Varsity team showcased their latest invention: a robot they built that responded to a variety of commands and was readily showing off his box handling skills to enthused spectators.
The second session, The Mind, began with Rebecca Tinkle walking the audience through her transformation when she listened to her dreams and followed them to become a best selling author. Keith Davis inspired talk about overcoming, “The Second Half”, worked up the crowd and shocked them when he rolled a frying pan into a “burrito” using only his mental strength, arms and chest. His session left the venue invigorated and shook off some of the lethargy left over from lunch. He was followed by Derek Siever’s “How to Start a Movement” and ElektroBotz dance. The session came to a close with Ben Pandya talking about medicine’s shortcomings as the only cure, Adam Shrover inspirational robotics story and Jonelle Moore invitation to take back your brain. Right as it all came to an end, the venue was cleared of all chairs and the space was made available for Earth Citizens Organization and Body & Brain to take the stage and perform a workshop that engaged attendees and volunteers alike, bringing a peaceful close to the day by balancing body and mind through Tai Chi.
The talks offer ideas worth spreading, the break offered an experience to laugh, play, interact and learn about the world and each other. The audience couldn’t be more diverse as they came from a broad spectrum representing the community in Glendale. While their backgrounds were so different they engaged with each other only to find how much their dreams had in common. The high-schools, organizations, and T-birds came together with open hearts and wide smiles only to walk away richer.
Curator/Lead Organizer of the event, Mohammed Abu Zeinab (MBA ’14, Qatar) worked in tandem with a great team of volunteers to oversee not just the logistics of the event but also provide an open and safe space to share ideas worth spreading and bring the entire community at Thunderbird, student, staff, professors and administration along with the larger community of West Valley youth in building a thriving future together. 1 Global Place: Mission Accomplished.
TEDxYouth@Glendale team wishes to share their gratitude for all the support shown to them. The team is preparing to pass the torch so this event can be an yearly occasion in the West Valley and become a valuable occasion for learning, introspection and personal growth. All the talks will be available at TED.com for anyone who wishes to relive the experience and for the world to learn and enjoy.
Thank you to the organizing team! Thank you to the sponsors and partners: Thunderbird School of Global Management, Three Feet Media, Body & Brain, Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association, Best Life Media, Honor’s Haven, Truce, Spectrum, Thunderbird Student Government, Alumni Council of Thunderbird, ECO, Cerreta’s, Livestream, Sedona Mago Retreat. Thank you to all the Thunderbird clubs: Thunderbird Wine Club, Thunderbird Hiking Club, Thunderbird Finance Association, Thunderbird Shutter Club, Thunderbird MENA, Thunderbird Marketing Association, Thunderbird for Good, Thunderbird African Business Club, Thunderbird European Business & Culture Club, Thunderbird Football Club, Thunderbird Ultimate Fresbee, Thunderbird Globe, ThunderPool, Thunderbird Project Management, Thunderbird Net Impact.
What is TEDx?
Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. At TEDx events, a screening of TED Talks videos — or a combination of live presenters and TED Talks videos — sparks deep conversation and connections at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, under a free license granted by TED.
What began as a small conference in 1984 and has grown into a global media platform with multiple channels and initiatives devoted to spreading ideas. TED challenges conventions, shares solutions, and reveals bold new ways to see the world. While originally focused on the convergence of Technology, Entertainment, and Design, TED now encompasses the full spectrum of human ingenuity. Its signature blend of innovation, insight, and storytelling has ignited a worldwide community committed to lifelong learning and to sparking positive change. With the inclusion of live speakers as part of our program, TED requires that all talks be recorded and uploaded to their official channels and accessible through their networks. TED is the only non-profit organization to have breached over 2.0 Billion unique views to its content.