Integrating Global Communities

By Brendon Biegel

Do you remember how you felt on your first day as a student on the Thunderbird campus? It may feel like an eternity ago, but as a Thunderbird you were probably excited and loved the sense of adventure for the unknown.

Before long you adapted to the #TBirdLife and found yourself brushing shoulders with people from all over the world. As a Thunderbird you enjoy finding out what’s amazing about where you are at any given moment. Because novelty excites you.

I had a small experience like this recently while I was visiting Tucson, AZ. I was walking lost in thought through what some might call its downtown area, not much bigger than this campus. I use to live there, so I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.

Then, something curious caught my eye: a small group of Turkish ladies rolling out small lumps of dough into patties and topping them with sugar to make little cakes. I stopped for a moment before moving on to snap a quick picture. To my surprise a little further down I found a few more vendors setting up stalls. I was curious, and decided to explore just a little further like a T-bird.

The more I looked around the more curious I became, but it wasn’t until I came across a small tent dedicated to selling food and drink from Laos that convinced me to stay. I wanted to give everything a chance to unfold.

There were vendors from almost as many countries as there are represented here at Thunderbird. Each one was dedicated to representing their country’s food and culture. In the background you could listen bands playing selections of folk and modern music from the respective areas.

Tucson Meet Yourself, was the organization that put this together, and they were in the process of celebrating its 41st anniversary.

I had a chance to sit down and speak with the event coordinator for some time before her duties called her away. I also had a chance to tell her a little bit about the “Thunderbird Mystique.” Initially, I was really only curious to find out if they held any events in Phoenix, knowing that Thunderbirds would love to go to such an event. I started to think about how much fun it would be to have an event like this with some real input from Thunderbird.

The event coordinator continued to explain how her organization works with educational institutions like the University of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts in order to find “Global Locals” in the community. They gather to educate the community about foreign cultures by sharing their food, music, and dance. If they can partner with the University of Arizona, why not partner with Thunderbird? Their three-day festival was like our regional nights, only much bigger. She explained to me that she had worked with Thunderbird Alumni in the past and her desire was to do it again.

Thunderbirds are all about cross-functional, cross-cultural, cross-[you name it!], so joint events may be a great opportunity to “spread the Mystique” and tap into even greater variety of experience. Who knows? You might even meet someone just like yourself!

Interested in participating or leading a cross-global-community event like this? Contact Brendon Biegel at!




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