October 29, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: A Snapshot of ELI

You hear ELI (Emerging Leaders Institute) alumnae tell you all the time what a life-changing experience ELI was, how they met so many people and how those five days made such an impact on their lives.

In the back of your mind, you think that’s great and all, but a part of you doesn't buy it. I mean, what exactly does a “life-changing experience” even entail? Realistically, how impactful could a mere five days have been?

The reason you've probably heard ELI described by a myriad of generically enthusiastic adjectives is… well, it was amazing, but it’s almost impossible to sum it up in words. So, I will try to take you through a snapshot of ELI during, after, and now.

During ELI
You arrive in Indianapolis, unsure of what to expect. You've packed an abundance of letters, but that barely matches your even higher level of anticipation and nerves. Over the next couple of days, you attend workshops that teach you where you stand as a leader, and how to become an even better one. You are surrounded and challenged by incredibly intelligent and driven women that push and empower you, and inspire you to represent Alpha Phi values just as much in everyday life as you would within your chapter. During downtime, you watch sing Frozen together, watch cry over an Oprah documentary and, unknowingly, develop strong bonds on the basis of a shared connection of Alpha Phi. By the end of the five days, you've become part of a whole new chapter, despite geographical differences.

After you go your separate ways, you find yourself immediately reminiscing back on the days at Butler. But ELI doesn't end there. There are the obvious connections that can be made over social media that will always enable you to stay within reach of your ELI session-mates. You’ll always be in the loop about what’s happening in a chapter across the country, and supported in your own endeavors. You may even find yourself reuniting with those in your ELI session at future Alpha Phi events, or even out of the blue at somewhere like Disneyland. The fact remains, you were brought together by Alpha Phi and this connection lasts past the five days at ELI.

ELI may be just a distant memory now, but its lessons remain. It’s about being a representative of values that improve you, as an Alpha Phi and as a person. This includes being an Alpha Phi steward, acknowledging that our fraternity was handed to us after decades of history and that we now hold the responsibility of upholding its legacy. With this come high expectations of improving our fraternity and ourselves, leaving it better than when we arrived.

With all that being said, I strongly suggest you look into ELI applications in the future. Applications for ELI 2015 will be available on the Alpha Phi website December, 2014!

Hellen Pang is a collegiate member at Western University (Theta Eta). Learn more about Hellen by clicking here.

October 27, 2014

On the Road: The 50 Pounds

  • One Alpha Phi Issued Laptop — (which has as many windows running as thoughts I have going through my head)
  • One Personal Bag — (containing everything but the kitchen sink)
  • One Carry On suitcase — (which you hope you will never have to lift because you've packed all your heaviest items in it)
  • One 50 lb Checked Bag — (which is considered your “rolling home”)

View from the plane as Brie was returning to the Executive office
While initially packing I had the same problem that any young twenty-something has—how can I pack everything I want to wear in these bags? These bags will see the inside of many planes, rolling around countless parts of the country and spending time in the trunks of dozens of Alpha Phis’ vehicles.

Channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw, I had to first decide on the shoes. They needed to be comfortable, classic, and able to endure walking around numerous campuses, standing through hours of Polish Week practices and walking around countless recruitment parties. I had pairs that pinched my toes, that rubbed blisters on my heels and that left the bottoms of my feet crying for a rehabilitating pedicure. It then dawned on me that the shoes I bring will be on my feet when the last door chant is done, when we start cleaning up the decorations from the day’s party. It was then that I realized ALL the extra shoes and things I thought I needed weren't going to be necessary. There are three things I continually need to carry to each chapter I go to:

1. A Positive Attitude
Placing a woman in a situation where all circumstances are not ideal will reveal a lot about her character. The most valuable thing to bring on each visit is a positive attitude. When someone picks you up from the airport, a smile is all that is needed to break the ice between two complete strangers who share a common set of values. Regardless of the chapter we come from, we can all find a common ground.

2. A Determination to Achieve Goals
Alpha Phis everywhere should strive for the ability to achieve goals! Goals are what drive our organization to continue to reach new heights. In order to continue to achieve all of our dreams, it takes time and perseverance to take the correct steps. Sometimes the steps are steep and we have to help our sisters up them, and sometimes it’s an easy hike to the top. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t; you’re right!” which helps me continually think I CAN DO IT!

3. A Love for Alpha Phi
This love is the reason all 15 of the ELCs decided to go out on the road. This bond is shared not only between our own collegiate chapters, but also with the members we meet at each chapter we visit. Passion for our sisterhood can drive all of our chapters to do “Phi”nominal things!

The items that are most important to bring on this journey are not physical. The spirit a person brings to the table is what makes them successful in life. This journey as an ELC has helped me realize that the things we pack in our suitcases are not important for us to do our jobs. It is the spirit that we bring along the way that helps Alpha Phi succeed.

Wheels up!

Brie Strimbu (Beta Gamma-Colorado) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Brie by clicking here.

October 24, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Dixie Tea Tumbler by Oh Yeaus

 Take your beverages on the go in this super cute, mason jar-inspired design! This 28 oz. tumbler is made out of Eastman Tritan, which is a very durable material that won't break. Fill it with iced coffee and you're good to go for the day!

Price is $17.95. Click here to order.

October 23, 2014

On the Road: It Won’t Always Be Easy, BUT It Will Be Worth It

After traveling as an ELC for over two months now, my experiences have been vast, fast-paced and exciting! I’ve become a professional airport navigator (self-proclaimed), packing wizard, Excel expert and can pair anything in my suitcase to make an outfit suitable to wear in the pesky month of October (where it feels like winter in Ohio and summer in Alabama). Although, I still can’t seem to get the hang of what time zone I’m in…but hey, greatness takes time!

No amount of training or preparation for this job can fully show you what it’s like; you begin to truly find out once you’re on the road yourself. It really is a job unlike any other, and I’m beyond thankful for this amazing opportunity. 

I could probably craft a (not-so-well-written) novel explaining all that I’ve seen and done since I embarked on the first part of my journey at the Executive Office in July. But to quote a popular Internet sensation… “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” 

So instead, I thought I would share some honest observations for future ELCs; some things that will be good to know. (Side note: If you’ve ever been an ELC, or are currently an ELC, I hope you feel the urge to shout “YES!” upon completion of reading this list.)

1. It will NEVER be easy to explain where you live. Or really… don’t live. No matter how many times you try to explain it to the person sitting next to you on your third flight of the day, a response like “out of my two suitcases” only welcomes more confused smiles, nods, and questions. Hang in there!
2. It will not always be easy to explain your job. To your parents, old roommates, boyfriend, friends from home or estranged relatives that you only see during the holidays. YES, it is a “real” job. YES, I get paid to do this. NO, this is not a “victory lap.” NO, my job title is not “professional sorority woman.” Create your elevator speech explaining what an ELC is and does, and stick to it!
3. It will not be easy to understand or comprehend regional trends. Do not try to do so. They are quirky and baffling to an “outsider,” such as an ELC. Oh, you don’t get why my Comfort Colors frocket (frat-pocket) is so oversized that you can’t see my Norts (Nike shorts)? Welcome to the South! Chaco’s, Hawaiian flip flops, Patagonia, flower headbands, tennis skirts…the list goes on. Stick to your snappy casual and you’ll be golden!
4. It will not be easy to get up at 3:00 a.m. after Formal Recruitment is finally over and catch a ride to the nearest airport, which is an hour away, to begin your travel day across North America. Make sure to drive-thru a Starbucks and get that sleepy collegian and yourself two lattes, catch a few zzz’s on the plane, and step out of that airport ready to conquer your next adventure!
5. It will not be easy to sit through a Preference Ceremony that mirrors your own collegiate chapters. Every time the member playing the guitar starts “Never Alone” and you see the water works happening all around, you might not be able to help yourself. You’ll probably smile because you realize you feel so at home with these women, where ever you may be, while still aching for a hug from your little. It’s comforting to know that Alpha Phi feels like home – no matter where you are.

It won’t always be easy, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT. I can promise you that. Being an ELC is one of the most rewarding jobs ever. Although there can be tough times (your entire Excel document crashing 30 minutes before you need it) and sleepless nights (wait… what is sleep during Recruitment season?), seeing the lasting, positive impression you can make on a chapter and its members in such a short time is the most gratifying feeling in the world.

I know I leave each chapter I visit as ELC changed, and I’m thankful that each chapter is also changing me. What could be worth more than that?

Mindi Grewell (Iota Nu-Kentucky) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Mindi by clicking here.

October 22, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: The Happiest Kind of Tears

I’d like to preface this post by letting you know that I don’t cry. I've made it through The Titanic, Marley & Me, even The Notebook without one glistening tear. I have come to look at the world in a logical way, and lost touch with a bit of my emotional side in the process.

Now, to my story. I live in the Alpha Phi house at my school, a reimagined apartment building. What it lacks in character it makes up for in utility: we are located in the heart of campus, have our own kitchens and enjoy an amazing front lawn. The establishment is certainly not the typical sorority house, but to us, it is home.

Moving in on my first day back to school this year couldn't have been more different than move-in day freshman year. My roommates and I dove headfirst into a seven hour workday of painting the walls, getting a crash course in just how difficult taping off ceilings and getting the corners really can be. It was an afternoon of hysterical laughter, recounting our summers and planning out future adventures for the coming year. It wasn't like moving into an anonymous dorm with 500 strangers as neighbors, it was moving into a home with 47 sisters to call when I run out of coffee creamer or need to go on a spontaneous sushi binge.

Fast forward a month to two days before recruitment. We were having a meeting in the basement with the advisors, huddled around our TV. They had cameras trained on us, and told us we would be watching a video. I thought it was somewhat odd that they were filming us, but with the lack of sleep I had been getting due to the coupled excitement and anxiety of recruitment being 48 hours away, I didn't have the brain capacity to put together what was about to happen.

The video started off with pictures from our first chapter meetings. They were held in a classroom in one of the campus buildings. The Iota Xi chapter of Alpha Phi was installed at DU in 2010, so we are still a relatively new chapter. We giggled at the images, thinking about how far we have come since then. I looked around at our basement – this small, cozy space we share – and had never loved it more. The video progressed and started showing pictures of Alpha Phi houses across the nation. Goosebumps shot across my body and as I looked out at my sisters and saw that we were all shaking with anticipation, I knew that the feeling was mutual. This was the moment our chapter had been waiting on for years – was it really about to happen? Finally, the screen displayed an architectural drawing of an Alpha Phi house and announced to us that we would have a new home at DU come Fall 2016.

A surge of emotion that had been building in the room since the start of the video burst out into screams, cries, and laughter. Our advisors were wiping tears away, trying to capture the moment on film. I can tell you now that there is no way the footage could do it justice.

Our apartments, which we lovingly refer to as “Chilltop,” are our home. The memories that each year has brought – candy apple making in the basement, Sex in the City marathons on the couch – can never be erased. However, the moment that our chapter learned we were getting a new house, a real house, was a moment that represented to us all just how far our sisterhood has come in the years since our installation. Being a part of a sorority is not only about enjoying the immediate benefits, but also about getting to watch the chapter grow and mold its development for future initiates.

As I sat there in the midst of so many incredible, beautiful, genuine women whom I get to call my sisters, basking in the advent of getting a brand new home together, I did something that I don’t do: I cried.

Stella Swartz is a collegiate member at Denver (Iota Xi). Learn more about Stella by clicking here.

October 19, 2014

On the Road: More Similarities Than Differences

One of the most frequently asked questions I get on the road is, “What are the other chapters like that you've visited?” When answering, I usually explain the college campus culture, show a photo of a beautiful chapter house or admit how I fell in love with recruitment skits.
However, I've learned every Alpha Phi chapter has more similarities than differences. From the outside, we look different – 50 members compared to 300, big houses and small houses, the USA and Canada, football and basketball fans, the beach and the mountains, and my personal favorite: tennis skirts or leggings. Yet, from the inside, we are one organization that gives women the opportunity to become lifelong friends and sisters with those who share their values. There is a not one single value that defines us, but rather many, creating an irreplaceable support system intertwined with love, humor, and wisdom. These similarities make me immediately feel at home at every chapter I visit as an ELC, and make it that much harder to say goodbye at the end of each visit. These similarities make me feel like I have the best job in the world – helping my sisters grow as an organization and as individuals. What better privilege is there than that?

So here’s my answer to the question I've been asked countless times:

While each chapter has its own nuances that make it unique, the best part about every chapter is what we have in common: our love for Alpha Phi. This similarity bonds all 190,000 of us together, and makes every new chapter I go to a place where I leave a piece of my heart, a place I call home.

Tasha Fitts (Iota Xi-Denver) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Tasha by clicking here.

October 17, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Gold Bar Necklace by E. Ria Designs

This beautiful necklace features an engravable back for a special date, set of coordinates, or phrase! The bar, measuring 1.5" x .25" approximately, is made of 14 karat gold filled metal and is brushed lightly for a shimmery finish.

Price is $46. Click here for details.

Alpha Phi Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Show us your Halloween spirit and participate in our Pumpkin Carving Contest! We've got contest details right here:

Designs may be Alpha Phi themed, but it is not required so get creative!

Send your name, chapter affiliation, and a photo of your pumpkin to lphillips@alphaphi.org. Please include "Pumpkin Carving Contest" in the subject line. Alumnae, collegians, and volunteers are all welcome to enter!

Submissions are due by Sunday, October 26th at noon.

Designs will be posted in a Facebook album on Monday, October 27th, and may be voted on through October 30th. The photo with the most likes will be announced on Halloween!

We can't wait to see your photos, so get carving!