10 reasons to cheer: Celebrating the Thunderbird mystique

Thunderbird student Spencer Pearce ’13 celebrates Angola’s Independence Day at Kalandula Falls in northwestern Angola on Nov. 11, 2012. Pearce and three other students spent six weeks in Angola doing a consulting project with the Thunderbird Emerging Markets Laboratory. (Photo by Landon Pitcher ’13)


1. Regional Night: Guests line up Dec. 8, 2012, for green curry, chicken basil and kheer for dessert. The lights dim and emcees from China and Vietnam introduce a live show that will celebrate the customs of more than one dozen Asian countries. The program will include Bollywood dances, Chinese karaoke, Muay Thai and kung fu demonstrations. This is the latest installment of Regional Night, a cultural exchange hosted and produced by Thunderbird students three times each trimester. “When we say we’re No. 1 in international business, we really mean it,” says Thunderbird Student Government Vice President Anirrban Mukherjii ’13 of India. “Regional Nights are one of the many ways in which Thunderbird helps you understand what the world is all about.” The following pages showcase nine other features that set Thunderbird apart.

2. Foundations: Lifelong friendships start during Foundations, a weeklong mix of culture shock, midnight study sessions and teambuilding for new students. The orientation culminates with the ThunderOlympics. Tarantulas, Wolves, Roadrunners and other desert critters chant team cheers as they move between events.
3. Project Artemis: Women entrepreneurs from Afghanistan study at Thunderbird through an intensive two-week course followed by two years of mentoring. The program, called Project Artemis, has brought nearly 80 participants to Arizona since 2005. Similar programs inspired by Project Artemis have reached more than 70,000 women.
4. The Tower: History runs deep at Thunderbird, with origins as a World War II training base for Chinese, British and U.S. pilots. The former airfield tower, restored in 2011, survives at the heart of campus as a reminder of the past and a symbol of Thunderbird’s mission to promote peace through cross-border trade.
5. First Tuesdays: T-birds all over the world keep their calendars open for First Tuesdays. The tradition, which spread from Florida in 1980, brings alumni together each month for networking and fun.
6. Global Mindset Inventory: To help global managers succeed in unfamiliar environments, Thunderbird offers a range of solutions at the Najafi Global Mindset Institute led by Professor Mansour Javidan, Ph.D. A scientific self-assessment called the Global Mindset Inventory provides a starting point. The tool, developed at Thunderbird, has helped more than 15,000 managers since 2008 measure their strengths and weaknesses in nine global business categories.
7. TEM Lab: Students step out of the classroom for an elective capstone course called the Thunderbird Emerging Markets Laboratory. Since 2010, teams have led consulting projects for real-world clients from Angola to Uganda.
8. Parade of Flags: Ceremonies come alive with color when students from all over the world carry their flags and share greetings from their home countries. For more than 35 years, the tradition has captured the spirit of Thunderbird.
9. Global Faculty: Thunderbird professors have passion for diversity, quest for adventure and self-assurance in unfamiliar environments. Like their students, they are global explorers who rarely stay home for long. On average, each full-time professor speaks 2.7 languages and has lived 16.8 years outside his or her native country or territory.
10. You: T-birds have an advantage when they travel because wherever they go, they have allies on the ground. “These people are ready to help you — to drop everything they are doing to make sure you are OK,” says Titi Owoade ’11, a Diageo manager working in her native Nigeria. Recent Chinese graduate Ji Chen ’12 already has experienced the power of the network. “Wherever you go, you are likely to meet one or two Thunderbirds,” he says. “We are like a big family.” The network includes nearly 40,000 alumni in 171 chapters and 147 countries. You are the reason The Economist ranks Thunderbird No. 1 in the world for “Internationalism of Alumni” and No. 2 for “Potential to Network.”
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