Am I really already 4 visits in? So much to catch you all up on!
But before I get started I will tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Kelley and I was initiated in Fall 2006 at Kappa Omega (U of Kentucky). Now that I have been traveling and seeing other chapters it feels like forever ago that I was a collegian! To this day, I attribute all the opportunities I had as a collegian back to AOII. I could go on, but the wonderful women at HQ (Mariellen and Whitney) put together a whole page on the ELC Program in our award winning magazine, ToDragma!
I’m on Day 26 of travel and have already seen 4 different states/chapters/cities/restaurants/sites… I think you get the picture.
My first visit was with the wonderful women at Xi Omicron (U of Arkansas). I came in two days into Work Week and left two days before Recruitment. It was a wonderful first visit and surely one that I won’t forget. Besides learning all their Recruitment songs, practicing door stacks, and finalizing decorations, they shared with me some of Fayetteville’s special spots. I checked out Hugo’s, a restaurant in a basement of a building known for their hamburgers (so much for a diet?), enjoyed some of Loafin’ Joes handmade chips (delicious) and tried Orange Mango’s frozen yogurt! I hope I impacted the women there as much as they impacted my experience as an ELC.
Next, I was off to Huntsville, Alabama to start work on our newest chapter at University of Alabama at Huntsville. I was greeted by the familiar face of one of the other ELC’s, Bailey. It was a new and learning experience for the both of us. We started to get AOII’s name out on campus and were welcomed by their Greek community. Bailey and I spent lots of time getting the PR going, including painting 4x8 plywood! We were so fortunate that their Fraternity Men and Sorority Women offered spaces to paint, allowed us to speak at their meetings, and observe Recruitment for the success of AOII in the future. I also got to spend my first 2 days off in Huntsville. Carole and Buddy Jones let Bailey and I spend the weekend at their home (It was wonderful!). We also spent some time at the outdoor mall and saw “Eat Pray Love” in theaters.
Once again, it was time for me to move on! I left Huntsville bright and early Monday morning and headed off to Kappa Chi (Northwestern State U, LA). This would be my first airport scare. I arrive at the airport at about 5:20am. My flight was to take off at 6:15am. I was first perplexed by the line to check in for Continental, but realized that was the least of my worries as I approached security. Slowly I watched time pass as I moved through what seemed like Security’s never ending line. 40 minutes until take off, 25 minutes till take off, 15 minutes till take off… I got through Security just in time. As it would figure, the gate I had to get to was the furthest one away! I briskly rolled my carry on through the airport and handed the ticket to the person and the gate and boarded just in time, phew! I will note that I spent both this flight and my connecting flight sound asleep!
Day one at Kappa Chi brought many new experiences for me. Two of their advisers took me to lunch at MerciBeaucoup. Here I tried Meat Pies, Crawfish Pies, and Bread Pudding for the first time and they were marvelous! The women of Kappa Chi were wonderful hosts and got me acquainted with campus quickly. School had started the day I arrived so they had a lot on their plate as they prepared for Recruitment that was about to pick up into full gear! I was even around as they were making some last minute upgrades to the house such as painting the door and adding fans. I enjoyed sharing their Informational Night with them. We got all the AOII gear ready to go and they had an adorable board with more pictures than I could count! Unfortunately Informational Night came and went, and that meant that it was time for me to move on.
I left the city of Natchitoches, LA (also the city where they filmed Steel Magnolias) and headed to San Antonio, Texas. Here I was greeted by two women of our Upsilon Lambda chapter. The first two days we spent a lot of time on Recruitment. We were able to iron some last minute things out and continue preparing for Recruitment! I recently tried Orange Cup (not to be confused with Orange Mango), and I STRONGLY encourage you to make a visit for some frozen yogurt if you are ever in the area. This was my first visit to a school that didn’t have houses, but let me tell you what they DID have – A DESK! This is not just ANY desk; it is the most decorated desk you can imagine. Red, Black, Pandas… you name it, they had it! They were in the full swing of PR and had lots of activities going on. I also got to share dinner with members of the AAC and San Antonio Alumnae Chapter. What a treat!
Now, as my last day at Upsilon Lambda comes to a close, I see Dallas approaching. I have two days off in Dallas before my visit starts at Delta Theta (Texas Women College). I am excited to share that I will be spending my time off exploring Dallas and getting a much needed mani/pedi with some wonderful volunteers including Julie O’Brien, Kathy Sowell, and Susan Danko PIP.
That brings me to another wonderful aspect of our organization. Being on the road has opened up my eyes to the world of AOII Volunteers that we have across the U.S. and Canada. I feel so incredibly blessed to have a place to stay everywhere I go. I simply shoot an e-mail to Kaya, and poof! I have a roof over my head in any given city during my time on the road. While I have met some of the volunteers that I will be staying with over the semester, others I will meet as I come to their doorstep with my suitcase in hand. So, in closing, thank you to all the volunteers out that either already know you will be taking me in, or will soon be added to the list!
Us ELCs and Kaya had our first conference call on Monday night. Let me just tell you, I think I had a grin from ear to ear the entire call. It was so nice to hear everyone’s voices and share our stories thus far. Just about 8 weeks ago, the 6 of us had spent a total of maybe 6 days together between interview weekend and Leadership Institute. Now, we text frequently, make lots of phone calls between one another, and Skype any chance we get! Kaya, and the rest of HQ staff sent us our first care package as well. All of the support from staff has been wonderful and I know that I cannot wait to get to spend time with everyone again soon.
I am about to book my flight back to HQ in November. Already you may ask? At this rate, I am in disbelief as well. I am 1/3 of the way done with my visits for this semester. While I continue to get the hang of things, time is flying by so fast!
Thank you to everyone I have met thus far. Even though I only get to spend a few short days with each of you, you continue to reassure me that I am one lucky AOII for this opportunity. To the rest of the chapters I will visit this fall, I couldn’t be more excited! My first instinct is to end with a (virtual) power clap, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for what is to come!
Until my next flight,