EngagePerspectivesRed and Blue Exchange, Interview with John Gamba Jr.
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Red and Blue Exchange, Interview with John Gamba Jr.

The Red and Blue Exchange (RBX) is committed to free and open inquiry into matters of public import, promotion of the robust exchange of divergent views, and the informed, reasoned, and respectful expression of ideas regardless of their ideology or popularity. Through a speaker series, student forums, and the Paideia-designated course, Can We Talk, RBX provides the skills and spaces for students to engage in transformative dialogue; to listen, probe, reflect, and learn about difficult and often contentious issues of the day; and to discover both common ground and areas of legitimate disagreement – all critical components of a healthy democratic society. A core initiative of Penn’s SNF Paideia Program, RBX is made possible through the generous support of the Gambas, a family with multigenerational Penn ties.

An edited transcript follows.

My name is John Gamba Jr., I am the entrepreneur in residence at Penn’s Catalyst at Penn GSE. The mission of the Red and Blue Exchange has been to take the cherished colors of our great university and try to bring those colors back together. It’s intended to take the viewpoints delivered by people who have red values and viewpoints and people who have blue values and viewpoints and come together in a quest for common ground.

One of the great things about my parents is they make no apologies about their values and viewpoints regarding you know modern-day conservatism. As we all know, Penn is perceived to be strongly left and I think my parents got sick and tired of hearing about it and wanted to do something positive and constructive. They heard about the Paideia Program and they decided to found the Red and Blue Exchange and are very excited about the vision and mission of the organization.

The Gamba Family’s connection to Penn goes way back. The Gamba Family absolutely bleeds red and blue and has a lot of connection. My dad graduated from the Wharton School in 1961. My mom in 1965 from the School of Nursing. I graduated from Penn in 1992 and my son is now a junior in the Wharton school class of 2021. The Gambas are aligned on a lot of things; our sports affiliations, our love of food, travel destinations. We really are aligned. We run the Gamba Family Foundation and do a lot of work to serve schools in order to close the achievement gap and we’re very aligned but when it comes to politics it kind of shifts a little bit. There have been many Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners that have been halted where certain members of the family had to go to their neutral corner.

The Red and Blue Exchange is really intended to bring people who have red affiliations and perspectives and blue affiliations and perspectives together into together into a moment of common ground. The ability to talk to each other, the ability to debate in good faith, the ability to have mutual respect. If the Gambas can come together on Thanksgiving we’re confident that the students and the community members that we are tapping into can also come together.

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