Behind the Scenes: The Preview & The Regional Night

By Deepali Ramaiah & Bala Rajendran

Thunderbird Campus Preview weekend is one of the best-organized initiatives at Thunderbird, meant to connect the school with prospective students. The success of the program depends on thorough planning and co-ordination of Thunderbird Campus Ambassadors (CAs). With planning starting as early as the beginning of trimester to decide the dates for preview weekend, most are aligned to coincide with a regional night celebration. In the weeks before, mandatory preview weekend training is provided to all CAs. Questions regarding the current happenings at Thunderbird are answered during this session. Detailed plans with specified timings and corresponding CAs for different events are created. On the Friday night of a preview weekend, a reception is arranged for the prospective students and the CAs with admissions and the Senior Director of Global Admissions addresses the prospective students with his team. This is followed by dinner where the CAs meet the prospective students and share their own Thunderbird experiences.

Saturday kicks off with a breakfast session with the prospective students followed by a campus tour. CAs are assigned to specific prospective students who conduct a tour of the entire campus with maps detailing different start points and end points provided to the CAs. Post this tour, two panels specifically designed for prospective MA/MS students and for prospective MBA students are held. The prospective students are then treated to a sumptuous lunch with CAs, faculty and staff. A master class is conducted with typically case discussion class at Thunderbird followed by a Global Experience panel where CAs share their own global experience with the prospective students. The last event of Preview Weekend is escorting the prospective students from Executive Inn to the regional night celebration at the TEC.

The Regional Night is another long standing Thunderbird tradition. With 3 per trimester, it is the one night that allows T-birds to let down their hair, dance through the evening and gorge on food they can barely pronounce. The Asia Regional Night is always a popular one, mostly for the unique blend of performances from the region and also for the diametrically opposite food and beverage. However, what we all see on the actual night of the event involves a lot of background work and effort. Bear in mind, these are students doing everything for free with not monetary benefits.

First up, food! It would be fairly impossible for students to be drawn in to the TEC for 3 hours without having the right cuisine in place. Definitely no easy task with between 4-6 clubs to coordinate and decide the menu for the evening, without any one region dominating the palate. Menu decided, the regional club leaders are tasked with sourcing the food. This is no mean feat either, given that the clubs have to go with Thunderbird approved caterers/restaurants. Regional clubs shell out funds at least once a year to make sure the restaurants that supply the food stay approved by the school. So if you wonder where some of the regional clubs funds go, wonder no more!

Gastronomic desires satiated, the next item on the agenda is to make sure people stay entertained throughout the evening. Enter the dancers, musical performers and other miscellaneous oddities! Saturday nights’s regional night proved to be even more of a handful with nearly the entire campus away during PDP Week and another group away for the module abroad. Students had to be placated, coerced, threatened and pleaded with to be part of the spectacle. Armed with human resources, it is then the turn of the student-turned-dance-coordinator extraordinaires to provide plenty of catchy numbers, exciting dance moves (that haven’t been repeated) and keep everything current. For five consecutive nights, students juggled their team meetings, client calls, case readings and class assignments to make it to the Commons in the evenings. Different types of music would blare from each corner of the Commons as they danced their way tirelessly into the night. Annoyed team mates, odd dance injuries, absence of sleep… nothing deters these students from putting on a good show on a Saturday.

Away from the food and dance, yet another group of students, the TSG, work to ensure the venue is up to scratch. The stage, tables, chairs, lighting and other odds and ends are secured from Facilities and student resources to be set up at least 24 hours ahead of the big night. Another group at the TSG secures all the music and content for the evening after chasing down all the club leaders and getting them to commit to a set schedule for the regional night. Security cannot go unmentioned: I’m sure all of us have seen the police personnel and security guards patrolling the TEC and they have to be specially requested for the event.

As the big day dawns, the TEC is never silent. With the advantage of the stage, all the clubs get slotted for practice throughout the day. The final day also means a final check on the costumes for the event. With minimal preparation for the Asia Regional Night this time around, students could be seen in a mad scramble to ensure that the costumes were just so for every dance. Further complications arise with students in multiple dances having to layer all the clothes… it can get a little hot under the collar!

As 7pm approaches, there is no sign of all the hard work and preparation that has been in play for the past few days. Everything is an aligned flow of people, music, food and beverage. Two hours later and yet another successful regional night has passed. Bring on the next one!

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