Students take part in world record speed mixer
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 16:04
Hundreds gathered on the grass by the MLK Plaza on Wednesday to set a Guinness World Record that hinged on sharing hopes and dreams with total strangers.
Along with the four cast members from MTV’s “The Buried Life,” students happily signed a waiver to be on television and potentially be part of the world’s largest speed-dating event.
The attempt had to include at least 250 people in the big love fest. Yet the students had strict guidelines to follow while on their dates.
Philip Robertson, a judge from Guinness World Records, said the discussion could only be about things they wanted to achieve before they die.
“If we hear any of you just discussing your favorite color because it’s orange, we are going to ask you to get back on track or we will eliminate you,” he said. “That means take you out of the event, not destroy you.”
Stewards crept up and down the long rows of students during the dating game listening to the conversations, making sure no one was talking about the past.
In an interview with The Oracle, “The Buried Life” cast member Jonnie Penn said achieving the world record with a large group was thrilling and something all four of the members wanted to do before they die.
“We wanted to do a record that people could participate in and it felt like, speed dating, everybody wants to fall in love,” Penn said. “Falling in love is on our list.”
Speed dating wasn’t on Penn’s personal bucket list, but said he wants to try everything in life at least once.
He shared his No. 1 dream — to direct a feature-length film.
“I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about screenwriting and filmmaking,” he said. “When I’m ready, I’d really be proud if I took five years to make a movie.”
The other rule of the event specified that students who left before all 20 three-minute conversations were completed could not be affiliated with the record. During the event, 55 people dropped out.
As students sat waiting to begin, not many people spoke. Students nervously discussed how hot and sunny it was and wondered how long the event would take.
After everyone was seated, Robertson announced the countdown for the first round to start.
“Three, two, one, go!”
The air horn blew. Students shook each other’s hands to introduce themselves and started to discuss lifelong dreams they would like to scratch off their bucket lists.
Visit all 50 states. Own a jeep. Ride a whale shark. Win a Grammy Award. Help deliver babies. Climb a mountain. Have a family. Live life to the fullest.
Conrad Blackburn, a freshman majoring in political science, said one of his fraternity brothers urged him to attend the event. He never thought he would speed date or break a world record — especially at the same time.
“I’m a pretty shy person, so talking to a whole bunch of different people is a different experience for me,” he said.
Blackburn said he hopes to make enough money by being a lawyer to ride a Honda CBR 600 motorcycle across all the countries in South America to experience different cultures.
Halfway through the event, many students began speaking to one another before the horn sounded. The overwhelming awkwardness turned to fun.
Adelia Joseph, a junior majoring in biomedical science, said she was excited to be a part of the record and was happy to see “The Buried Life” again.
“I’ve been waiting for this for forever — well, since they came the first time when they said they would come back,” she said. “I think it’s really awesome that our school was selected to do this.”
Joseph’s main objective in life is to become a CEO of a hospital in the Caribbean.
“The medical merit is not to par like it is in the U.S.,” she said. “First of all, I want to get into medical school, then become a doctor and then become a CEO of a hospital.”
One of her more creative dreams is playing a mother in a Disney Channel comedy series when she gets older.
The students’ goals started to merge together as the final partners came and went. When Robertson announced the end of the final round, students rejoiced with shouts, claps and smiles.
“I’m officially delighted to say you have achieved a new Guinness World Record,” Robertson said.
USF surpassed with 288 participants.
“The Buried Life” members — Jonnie Penn, Duncan Penn, Ben Nemtin and Dave Lingwood — each held up the framed paper record to USF chants and walked it through the sea of students.