By Mohamad Abou Zeinab
For those who know or didn’t know, Thunderbird was going to have its very first TEDx event this November. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Our volunteer team of event curators have been working in close partnership with the school in organizing and hosting TEDxYouth@Thunderbird. TED headquarters had not responded with a venue-specific permission for the event by our internal joint agreed deadline of October 16th, a month out from the event. And so it is to our dismay in forgoing the event for this trimester but looking brightly to the next.
Again, for those who know or didn’t know, TED is a non-profit organization that has been organizing annual speaker conferences since the 80’s on “ideas worth spreading”, as the slogan rightly frames. These ideas would be the stuff of movements, ideas the world has never seen, heard or fathomed before. They would be genuine and original ideas. And back in the day as grand as they were with this promise and idea, so were their speakers in the likes of Gates, Zucherberg, Al Gore, and more. The TED brand, which posts all its talks online, is the only non-profit organization to date to have reached over one billion views to its video content.
It was only five years ago where someone stood up to say, why can’t we organize our own TED events for our local communities. There are people where we are with great “ideas worth spreading” and thoughts that our community and the world deserves to hear. And so began TEDx where x stands for independent locally organized event.
Now there are some 5000+ TEDx events that take place globally on a yearly basis. Quite a feat for a franchise brand.
To host a TEDx event, we need a TED license. Anyone can apply to this license. Only we would be limited to hosting an audience of no greater than a hundred members. To have a license which curates for an event greater than a hundred, the license holder needs to have attended a TED global conference, applied, accepted, and paid the handsome fee for participating. Fortunately, we have that opportunity in yours truly to do just that. With this license, the curator has the ability to register an event with unlimited audiences.
TEDxYouth@Thunderbird was intended to commemorate the U.N’s Universal Children’s Day on November 16th. The audience would include an eclectic variety of 350 high school students from 12 different high schools all across Arizona, from as far as Flagstaff of which we had 200, ready and prepared by this point. The remaining 150 in the target 500 would have been Thunderbird students, staff, faculty, alumni, and family in the area.
Our team took great strides in preparing an awesome lineup of speakers. To give you an idea of what our team put together, we had; a scientist inventor and owner to a multi million dollar firm at 17 years of age who had invented a technology of photosynthetic algae alotted in a canister that bolted to your tailpipe and converted all your CO2 to H2O vapour, real time. We had a 13 year old skater who’s wheels kept breaking, went home to design a new one, showed the drawings to a manufacturer which said he needed $2000 to make it happen, went on to scrummage just that, put them on after production and showed them to his friends, and on to their friends. Later he would have a brand, and an idea that sold for 100K. We had a 17 year old that established a non-profit building schools in Peru, another that covers the scholarship funds for kids of all ages to enter education at the level they needed through her non-profit. We had a woman whom at 16 wanted her first car, went on to instead run a firm with thousands of women jewelry designers practicing their entrepreneurial traits. We had an Arizona state and national wrestling champion whom had starred on Jay Leno’s show twice, published a book, is a registered Nike sponsored athlete and was born with one leg. A man with no arms who works for Nascar’s most successful racing team in Hendricks Motorsports as their Engine Specialist. And a Beijing and London gold medalist Paralympian swimmer.
Our event would join over 110 other cities participating in TEDxYouth events, simultaneously and would be broadcast to hundreds more in our own alumni chapters, partner institutions, or newly found partner institutions. And that’s all before we are obliged to post these talks to aforementioned TED and TEDx platforms where they will continually rack up thousands of views.
All is not lost, not by a long shot. With the help of our wonderful team in Thunderbird volunteer students who have worked on this project, for the department heads and staff at Thunderbird who have helped and supported us along the way, we have progressed a long way and have much to show.
This TEDx may not be for this trimester, but look for something Big, next tri. Be There!