Thunderbird’s Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate: Origin Story

By Emma Livingston, Co-Editor

Image from Thunderbird's legendary Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate (photo courtesy of Jayadeep Tanikonda)
Image from Thunderbird’s legendary Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate (photo courtesy of Jayadeep Tanikonda)

It was a magical night at the Coleman Lounge, late January 2015. There were 15 of us sitting in a circle, sharing stories of our countries and our cultures. It was the night I learned that in Mauritania, the bride is not allowed to smile during her wedding. It was the type of night that exists only at Thunderbird, where borders and cultural barriers disappear and what is left is honest, open, funny exchanges between human beings who want to share the best of themselves with one another. It was also the night where together we cultivated the idea for Thunderbird’s first ever Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate.

We were talking of how fortunate we were to have such diverse points of view in our class. At this time, the MBA students were taking classes all together in LH53. With 95 students all fighting for the coveted participation points, we were entertained each and every class period by the comments of our opinionated classmates from over 30 different countries.

Two of our classmates stood out for us in particular as being the most extreme opposites of each other, yet each one entertaining in his own way: Keith Blincoe (MBA ’15, USA – famous in Das Tor lore for his hilarious satirical articles), a student of philosophy whose superior logic skills know no bounds, and Roy Shemesh (MBA ’15, Israel), known for his passionate arguments in class and this indelible quote, uttered once during Professor Hunsaker’s Global Strategy class: “I don’t believe in facts.” In the Coleman Lounge that night, we decided that these two strong personalities should debate each other: a debate between logic and passion – with absurd questions – and only one possible winner.

The result was the “Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate,” held at the Pub in February 2015. The spirit of the night is captured in the image below:

Keith Blincoe and Roy Shemesh face off in Thunderbird's first Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate (photo courtesy of Jayadeep Tanikonda)
Keith Blincoe and Roy Shemesh face off in Thunderbird’s first Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate (photo courtesy of Jayadeep Tanikonda)

The crowd was raucous and just a tad bit tipsy, and we really should have given the debaters microphones, but all in all it was a spectacular night, showing the type of magic we can create as a community here at Thunderbird.

Today, April 21st at 21:00 hours, the tradition continues with the second round of the Once-In-A-Lifetime Debate. Yuya Ota (MBA ’16, Japan) will face off against Faduma-Dhool Mohamed (MAGAM ’17, Kenya). These two very different T-Birds will answer questions on topics such as sexuality, human rights, and the future prepared by 21 of their multi-cultural classmates. The debate will take place once again in our beloved pub, but this time, the debaters will have microphones so we can hear every nuance of their diverse opinions. Join us tonight at this uniquely T-Bird event and discover again the Thunderbird mystique.

once in a lifetime debate flyer


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