Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An ELC's year comes to an end.

From Morgan's suitcase

As my days as an Educational Leadership Consultant come to an end, I am overwhelmed by countless emotions. Happiness to be reunited with my family and loved ones and sadness to leave the women I have met through my travels. I am thankful for the women who taught me about our Fraternity throughout my collegiate years and built the passion I have for AOII. I am honored to have had the opportunity to travel to chapters across the southeast and to have played a role in the re-installation of Alpha Pi Chapter at Florida State University.

As a new member, I never imagined what my involvement in AOII would be like after graduation. Even as the years passed by and graduation got closer I could not wrap my mind around any experience comparing to my phenomenal collegiate chapter years. Women told me time and time again that in AOII you get what you put in. I am so thankful that (although I am just one year removed from my collegiate chapter) I have now begun my journey as a Life Loyal member of AOII. After five years of membership I can now understand that AOII is much more than just a collegiate experience and am so thankful that I have had the opportunities to give so much of myself to this organization.

Though nothing will replace my collegiate years, my experience as an ELC has greatly added to why I love our Fraternity and who I am as an AOII. From the hundreds of women who have welcomed me in to their homes, to the women who trusted me as their resident consultant, and the ten amazing women that served with me as the 2013-14 ELC team, each one of them has continued writing my AOII story. In no other job will my co-workers ever be my sisters, roommates and best friends. I am proud to have been a part of the consultant team and thankful for the women on whom I truly have no fear to call.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

60-degree "Winter Wonderland"

From Morgan's Suitcase

While the ELC team reports to each other each day that the temperatures we are experiencing on chapter visits consist of 12, 7 and even -1 degrees, the ladies of the newly-installed Alpha Pi Chapter have been preparing to welcome a new member class to their 60-degree Winter Wonderland!

During the spring semester at Florida State University, all four councils of the Greek Community participate in Winterfest. From t-shirts, buttons and Pinterest creations, each organization creates beautiful displays where they are able to spotlight the advantages of being a part of the chapter they call home. More than 700 Florida State students participated in this event to learn more about the opportunities that Greek life can offer them.

After weeks of hard work and two fabulous informal recruitment events, Alpha Pi was ready to extend bids to their first new members since being installed as a chapter in the fall of 2013. Hot chocolate was poured, Christmas lights were hung and cupcakes were topped with snowflakes - it may not truly be winter in Tallahassee, Florida but Alpha Pi was ready for their Winter Wonderland Bid Day celebration!

The ladies of Alpha Pi welcomed 12 beautiful new members in to their chapter. As the New Member Educator announced each new member's name, the chapter sang chants and cheered while the women were given a rose and their bid card. The ladies in Tallahassee may not have freezing temperatures, but their Winter Wonderland was a hit!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Common Bonds

From Kristen's Suitcase

This past week I had the wonderful opportunity of staying with Kappa Phi Chapter at McGill University. Not only was this the farthest North and the coldest I have ever been, it was also my first time in Canada! On the night of my arrival, Kappa Phi had a ritual planned. What a wonderful way to begin a visit by sharing ritual together!

A few days later, I was meeting with an officer and she stated, "Ya know, I was able to see you during ritual, and it was so cool to see you reciting the same words and sharing the same experience as all of us. We had never met, but shared a common bond." That's what makes AOII so special to me. No matter where I go, no matter how far from home I am... I have something in common with the women I am visiting. We share values that have not changed since 1897. How extraordinary that our founders were so forward thinking that our ritual has not significantly changed since its origination.

What I most enjoy is that although we do share the same ritual, AOII's ritual is open to your personal interpretation. For me, it is a time of reflection. Am I living AOII's ritual? Is there something in my life that I could do better to help advance the Fraternity? I try to really listen and apply every word to my daily life. For you, it may be a completely different experience... and that's okay! I encourage you to think back on the last ritual you participated in. Did you look around the room and feel extremely blessed? Were you worried about completing homework?

What do you think our founders thought about during ritual?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Don't let it pass you by!

From Kristen's Suitcase

Hello from Milledgeville, GA!

I am currently serving as the resident consultant at Georgia College, one of AOII's newest colonies! This is my second colony to work with, and I have to say, although the towns, schools, and women are all very different - the adventure is the same!

AOII Bid Day at Georgia College and State University!
I set out on this journey as an ELC in January prepared to share every ounce of knowledge that I have of AOII with collegiate members. As I am approaching my 10th month being an ELC, I want to share with you what my experience has taught me so far.

I hit the road for my first visit in full-blast mode--ready to change lives, improve chapters, inspire members... you know... all those amazing, miracle things that ELCs in the past had accomplished at my chapter! However, it didn't take me long to realize that, while- yes- it was a good idea to have a game plan, the best experiences were the ones where I stopped to enjoy the moment. We are all guilty of getting caught up in things that we "have to do" that we miss the joy in actually "doing" it.

Making furry friends with Epsilon Chi at Elon University.
So, what I have come to realize is that while it is my role and responsibility to serve and encourage the women that I meet, it has been even more enjoyable having my sisters inspire me along the way. We all know Stella's wish for AOII, "May you have the joy in it all, dear children, that we (founders) have had all the way! May you love one another as happily always as we four have done in a life-long fellowship without a break! And may your descendants in Alpha Omicron Pi bring to you the glory that you yourselves are to us today!" What a beautiful wish Stella had for us, as well as a charge to enjoy each other's company in happiness. The chapter members that I have met on my journey as an ELC have done exactly this. I have made life long friends on this journey and have been positively impacted by all.

While I set out to teach, I have been taught so much. I have learned that going to visit that animal shelter, attending that baseball game, or staying up late with chapter members during a visit is where friendships happen. Enjoy the time you have with each and every AOII sister you meet! It is Stella's wish that we have joy and friendship within AOII! Don't let it pass you by! :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Repetitious Recruitment

From Nevena’s Suitcase

During ‘Recruitment Season’ an ELC's life is mostly made up of recruitment visits. While each Recruitment has its nuances—it is essentially comprised of three basics—recruitment events, conversation, songs/chants, and the inevitable lack of sleep. 
Then comes the excitement of Bid Day, and for an ELC, it is followed by another visit, and another first round of recruitment.

In the 90s movie “Groundhog Day” Bill Murray’s character finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. At first he is confused and frustrated, then he re-examines his situation and takes advantage of it. He improves himself and uses all his knowledge to help others.

Personally, I can relate to Bill Murray’s character. I initially thought that ELCs were crazy to do so many recruitment visits in a row. I distinctly remember ELC Clarke Erickson visiting my chapter of initiation during recruitment. On our bid day, exhausted as ever, I asked Clarke where she was off to next, she responded ‘another recruitment visit’. Fearful for her, I sheepishly asked her how many recruitment visits she had been on.  I don’t recall her specific answer anymore, it must have been around six, but I remember thinking— I could NEVER do what she does, that sounds like an exhausting job!

Now, the joke is on me, as this is my not my first, but second year making my 'recruitment season' rounds. I have learned that the repetition is indeed tiring and it often seems mentally exhausting to know you are flying out to start a similar process again. 

But...in return, it is so incredibly rewarding that there is no way NOT to want to do it again. 

Kappa Omega at the University of Kentucky doing a run-through of their Skit Round

Having finished my 11th recruitment visit I feel that I have reached the point in the movie where I have mastered a few things and  know that my knowledge can, and does, help the visiting Chapter.

Also, being stuck in the ‘Recruitment time loop’ has continuously pushed me to better myself as a woman. A personal challenge for me has always been having full confidence in my skills and knowledge, fearful that I will come off as conceited or all-knowing. This time around, my confidence has skyrocketed, I have realized that I do know what I am talking about and that my knowledge will aid the chapter in performing to the best of their ability. 

Lambda Sigma at the University of Georgia Seniors huddling up for a cheer before PNMs walk in to their Recruitment Event.

This year, I have had an opportunity to do more pre-recruitment visits which have made me see the bigger picture of recruitment more clearly, and put a new spin on my 'recruitment time loop'. 

Epsilon Gamma at the University of Northern Colorado taking a photo opportunity during Pre-Recruitment activities
I have also learned to encourage members to realize that their best assets are often their Recruitment Advisers.

There is so much knowledge Recruitment Advisers carry, sometimes it just takes a new sounding vessel (ELCs) to deliver the same information they have been providing. Recruitment Advisers also have their own 'recruitment time loop' of knowledge to reference-they in one way or another have performed/organized recruitment over and over again.

Xi Rho at Sonoma State University at their Philanthropy Day Event

Recruitment is full of repetition in itself, each Chapter practices conversation, the mechanics of their events, skits, etc. Seniors in Chapters are often repeating the process for the third time.  Hopefully all AOII members can see the positive side of repetition and take advantage of the vast opportunities for improvement it provides. 

Consistent practice and familiarity with recruitment ideally allows AOII as a whole to provide Potential New Members with an amazing glimpse into our sisterhood. 

-Nevena Pehar

P.S.: I want to thank Lambda Sigma, Kappa Omega, Epsilon Gamma and Xi Rho on my incredibly rewarding visits so far—you have all made me a better person and stronger woman by putting your trust in me!  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oh, the Places You'll Go in AOII!

From Amanda's Suitcase

Growing up, many of us read Dr. Seuss books at bedtime. The rhyme and rhythm of his stories were enough to lull us to sleep and leave us dreaming of magical places. No one really forgets those wonderful moments spent reading "Green Eggs & Ham" or "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" Dr. Seuss poems have a special place in all of our hearts.

I was taken back to my childhood memories at Oklahoma State University during their recruitment, as they sang and danced to a "Seussville" themed skit. After many hours spent chanting and smiling in their temporary home at Farmhouse, the women celebrated with 58 new members on Bid Day. Their colorful "All you need is Alpha Love" Bid Day was an extension of the visuals created by Dr. Seuss. In honor of the memories and connections I made on my first-ever ELC visit, here is my own version of a Dr. Seuss original.

Oh(klahoma), the places you'll go!
Bid Day was your day. 
You're off to great places!
You're off and away!
Your officers have new ideas in their heads. 
Your recruiters have sores from their shoes. 
You can steer your chapter any direction you choose. 
You're strong on your own
And you know what you know. 
And YOU are the girls who'll decide where to go. 
You'll look up and down the streets.
Look 'em over with care. 
About AOII, you will say "I choose to live there."
Thanks to the Lambert Construction fleet, 
You will be the coolest gals on the street. 

Out here things can happen
And frequently do.
With OSU people as spirited
and genuine as you. 

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. 
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. 
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best. 
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. 
...for people just waiting. 
Waiting for a train to go
Or a bus to come, or a plane to go. 
Or the mail to come, or the rain to go. 
Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow. 
Or waiting around for a Yes or a No. 
Or waiting for their hair to grow. 
Why wait to become an AOII!

Everyone except for you!

Somehow you've escaped
All that waiting and staying. 
You've found the bright place
Where "A Rose Ever Blooming" is playing. 
be your name Stella or Helen or Jess or Bess, 
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your sisters are waiting. 
So, get on your way!

A proud Pistol Pete fan,
Amanda Gilpin 
2013-14 ELC
Iota Chapter/U of Illinois

Monday, August 12, 2013

VIDEO - Meet your 2013-14 AOII ELCs!

Schools are getting back in session, which means our Educational Leadership Consultant team of knowledgeable and dedicated AOII women have hit the road to visit each of our 122 chapters this academic year! Learn more about them in the video below. These women are Lauren Stern (Pi Alpha Chapter/U of Louisville), Tiffany Kirkland (Sigma Chapter/U of California Berkeley), Laura Johnson (Alpha Chi Chapter/Western Kentucky U), Helen Block (Zeta Pi Chapter/U of Alabama at Birmingham), Amanda Gilpin (Iota Chapter/U of Illinois), Mandy Hedstrom (Alpha Phi Chapter/Montana State U), Morgan Butler (U of Alabama), Jackie Rae Petta (Theta Omega/Northern Arizona U), Nevena Pehar (Gamma Theta Chapter/U of South Florida) and Kristen Phelps (Kappa Tau Chapter/Southeastern Louisiana U). You'll also learn more about them in the upcoming issue of To Dragma! Stay tuned to AOII Suitcase Diaries: Sisterhood on the Road for stories about their travels and our chapters.