October 26, 2010

Terminology Tuesday- Nationals...eh?

Welcome back to Terminology Tuesday! Each Tuesday we will blog about some commonly misused terms within the Fraternity. It’s our hope that you take some time to read, laugh, smile, and then use the information to alter your word choices, and the choices of those around you.

Who was the first President of the United States? If you ask almost any Alpha Phi, she will be quick to tell you…George Washington! Now we get a bit tougher: Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada? I’d be willing to bet that many Alpha Phis wouldn’t know the answer to this one (by the way…the answer is Sir John A. MacDonald). Well, I guess we all could use a little lesson in history sometimes. And, for this week’s Terminology Tuesday, we thought we might brush up on our geography as well.

I’ve been involved with Alpha Phi for almost 20 years now, and whenever I visit chapters or meet sisters from across North America, I am surprised that some of our members have a selected understanding on one of two issues:

1) They don’t know that Alpha Phi even has chapters in Canada. In fact, there are six chapters currently active in the Great White North; and, founded in 1906, Xi is the oldest sorority chapter currently operating in Canada of any NPC group.

Or:

2) While Canadians do tend to look to our neighbors to the south quite a bit for trade, world politics and better TV shows, we are in fact a separate country with our own parliament (government). You even need a passport to come across the border now! I do hope that both of those facts are common knowledge, and that the use of a term “Nationals” I hear way too often is just due to a misconception rather than anything more. So…I pose the last question in my quiz to you: If you are sending in your dues, pin orders, etc…where are you sending them?

For many, the answer is obvious: “We send them to Nationals!” Hold on there! Can I program “Nationals” into a GPS? So, if it’s not a location, why do we phrase it as such? It’s time to set the record straight. Alpha Phi does not have a “Nationals;” we have an “Executive Office” at 1930 Sherman Ave in Evanston, IL. It is the office of both Alpha Phi International Fraternity and the Alpha Phi Foundation. That office is full of our staff: many women and men who work hard to provide support to your chapter in every way: recruitment, finances, programming, Philanthropy events, and too many others to count. Some groups may call it a “headquarters,” but in Alpha Phi, we say “Executive Office," because frankly…that’s what it is.

So, the next time you are about to say “We have an ELC from Nationals” to anyone, please stop and think. The person who is visiting you might not even be American, but Canadian, which would make her International! But better yet, please say that “An Alpha Phi is visiting” or “She/He works at the Executive Office.” You won’t be hurting my Canadian feelings by doing that. Be proud of our status as an International Fraternity—not every NPC group can claim that. Canadians have served as Regional Team Members, Committee Chairs, ELC’s, IEB members, and even Past International Presidents (the title should have been a clue). I finish by offering you an invitation: Should you want visit, I’m sure any of our Canadian sisters would love to have you…they might even take you out for some poutine and a hockey game!

Alison Nash (Xi/Toronto) is one of the Canadian Resource Coordinators and serves on the Upper Midwest Regional Team.

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