By: Anthony Veltri ’14, Guest Writer
Something extraordinary is brewing at Thunderbird. Amidst the class projects, client consultations, and club meetings that fuel its student body, a group of peers have initiated a venture that will bring TED Talks to the West Valley, and more specifically Thunderbird’s campus. The exceptional team is led by Curator and Lead Organizer, Mohammed Abu Zeinab, affectionately referred to as “AZ” and includes a number of current students, alumni and teachers.
In true T-Bird form, the group hopes to facilitate growth and knowledge through experience, with a tailored TEDx event. In conjunction with Thunderbird’s TEDx club, these current and past students hope to merge the mindset of T-Birds, with TED’s comfortably relatable mission of “Ideas worth Sharing”.
TED began as a small conference in 1984 and has since become a global sensation. It has now evolved into an online platform dedicated to hosting videos of talks and performances aimed at igniting initiative and reflection. TEDx aims to do the same, but independently and on a local level. The experiential element is thus enhanced and an event is born. In the case of Thunderbird and the West Valley, that event will take the shape of TEDxYouth@Glendale with “World in Mind” being the theme.
The emphasis on “Youth” was decided upon as the team discovered that the youth of Glendale were experiencing neglect and felt abandoned by their community and, in some cases, their loved ones. Limited education and job prospects are eroding their motivations and dysfunction within the home is further stifling their sense of self and value. Rather than witnessing the downfall of the youth of the West Valley, the TEDx team has chosen to give them an event that will direct their attention within, so they can “own their power,” if you will.
The theme of “World in Mind” is especially poignant given the international nature of the team, but its meaning is much deeper than understanding the world around us. At its core, “World in Mind” is about cultivating self-understanding, unity and love. It is the realization that all the validation one might seek from the world can be found within oneself. It is the world that needs to experience that individual strength, and by fortifying yourself you are, in turn, strengthening your community at large.
The team has already begun securing speakers, performers and sponsoring partners who share TED’s message and promote love, community and empowerment, in alignment with their chosen theme. They have additionally chosen Saturday, April 18 as the date and the TEC as their venue. Currently, local schools and organizations are working alongside the TEDx team to select 500 students who will embrace the event and potentially share their experiences with others. Andres Porras (MBA ’15, Colombia), the team’s Sponsor Relations Manager believes the event will “set standards for future TEDx events” in the West Valley, and is “thrilled to be part of an event that will change the lives of more than 500 of Glendale teenagers”. Have no fear, though! The event is also open to T-Birds, alumni, non-T-Birds and others who were not selected for the limited seating within the venue. The team invites all interested individuals, young and old to visit Thunderbird and immerse themselves in what they intend to be the first of many Glendale located TEDx events.
The 6-hour event will start at 9:00 AM and is expected to include 15 speakers and performances, a number of breakout sessions and workshops, and engaging sponsor booths with product and service samples for attendees to peruse. While non-invitees will be able to listen to and view presentations and performances, they will have somewhat limited access to the breakout sessions and partner booths until the invitees have made their initial pass through and they will need to preregister.
T-Birds and interested parties can get involved in pre-event activities that range from TEDx Instagram photo-ops around campus, to visiting the website or simply following the team’s efforts on Facebook or via Twitter. There is also a “making of” video being filmed, which will highlight all the team’s hard work, and provide others a glimpse at what it takes to plan and execute an event worthy of carrying the TED brand. While the short film will highlight the efforts of the TEDx team, those involved hope that it can effectively express their delight and anticipation rather than serve only as documentation of business as usual. Each member is thrilled to be involved and has specific motivations that make the project something very dear to them. The event’s curator, AZ, has both attended and presented at TED events, and having been given the opportunity to create one himself, he is ecstatic. “It is the greatest joy and reward when someone sees through their own eyes everything you see. My hope, for any one person in TEDxYouth@Glendale is to experience and really feel a moment where they feel still and just are,” says AZ.
Everyone on the TEDx team shares AZ’s sentiments. They all hope that their efforts and the event’s performances will touch the
audience and leave them with feelings of hope and determination. Marissa Burkett, Event Producer, makes her intentions clear in her team biography, stating that she wishes to make the event a “meaningful experience that they will carry with them long after”.
While the current work of the TEDx team may be discreet, and is going somewhat unnoticed on campus, the volume of dedication and effort put forth by each team member is hard to ignore. In the coming days, as the date draws near, more and more will be revealed. Join the TEDxYouth@Glendale organizing team for the “CRAFTx: Public Arts Event” this Friday, March 27, at 3:00 PM on the lawn in front of the Commons where you will create a 3D and get see your art displayed on campus. Supplies and refreshments will be made available.
For those who share the team’s anticipation, there will be regular alerts on their TEDx social media accounts in the form of speaker announcements, biographies, and a count down to TEDxYouth@Glendale. Our team is excited to work with the clubs on campus to deliver experiences to our participants and with individual volunteers who would like to contribute and put their skills to make this a memorable and successful event.
The TEDx team consists of:
Mohammed Abu Zeinab (Event Curator & Lead Organizer)
Alina Buzgar (Communications & Marketing)
Andres Porras (Corporate Partner Relations & Budget)
Ana Carillo (Corporate Partner Relations & Budget)
Marissa Burkett (Executive Producer)
Candice Sparkes (Event Manager)
Thaedra Brondum (Project Manager)
Leah Funk (Campus Engagement & Social Media Outreach)
Steve Luna (Thunderbird TEDx Club President)
Teejay Luna (Designer)
Rick Beitman (Event MC)
Troy Kinney (Education Partner Relations)
Abdul Basith (Social Media & Photography)
Anthony Veltri (Copywriter & Communications Editor)
Follow the links below to access TEDxYouth@Glendale social media sites and experience the “World in Mind.”