July 3, 2012
Alpha Phi Emerging Leaders Institute 2012
I arrived at the Butler Alpha Phi house expecting to meet sisters, listen to speakers and experience a five-day vacation to kick off my summer. What I didn't expect was to make 49 amazing new friends, gain confidence in myself and my chapter and leave feeling both appreciative and empowered.
This May, I bonded with collegiate and alumnae women from all over the continent at Alpha Phi's Emerging Leadership Institute. The activities and curriculum during the institute--which is tailored specifically to the women of Alpha Phi--challenged us, inspired us and taught us about ourselves and our organization. This uplifting week reminded each of us why we joined Alpha Phi, and how meaningful our Alpha Phi network is. Though we each came from very different chapters, these differences reminded us how many exceptional women we can call our sisters.
We spent our five days learning about women's leadership from two very motivational and engaging speakers- -one of which was an Alpha Phi alumna! We each determined the four core values that are most important to us as an individual--mine were humility, loyalty, self awareness and honesty. During one of my favorite sessions, we studied the meaning of our rituals and symbols. Like many others, I had never taken the time to really reflect on why our ceremonies are so significant; at ELI, I gained a much deeper understanding of how intentional our founding sisters were while determining the basis of our Fraternity. Another morning was spent practicing leadership in action at a ropes course, where we were challenged to work as a team while crossing wires, climbing walls and balancing 20 women on a giant teeter-totter.
During our afternoon and evening free-time we traded Alpha Phi apparel, explored the Butler University campus and swapped stories about our home chapters. We shared ideas about philanthropy, social and sisterhood events, how to connect with alumnae or potential new members and how to handle chapter conflicts. I was surprised to see that many of the women were facing similar challenges in their chapters, as well as how much we could learn from each other. If each woman taught something to just two other women, think how many positive changes are going to be made in so many chapters!
My week at ELI was nothing short of unforgettable. Not a second was spent on negativity, but instead on lifting each other up and inspiring confidence in our sisters. I think I speak for all of the attendees when I say that no one was ready to board the bus home on our final day. I am so grateful to have spent a week of my summer on this exceptional experience, and a feel so blessed that this opportunity is available to emerging leaders in the Alpha Phi family.
Maria Opatz is a collegiate member at Drake (Gamma Omicron). Read her bio here.