January 24, 2013

Alumnae Perspective: Journeying with Alpha Phi

When I joined Alpha Phi six years ago, I don’t think I truly anticipated such lifelong support and friendship. I also didn't expect my dream travel experience to include bats, tons of rain, or really hard, dirty, sweaty work—let alone all of those things. Last Friday, I returned from a two-week trip to Peru with one of my closest Alpha Phi sisters and had the time of my life. And all of the above? It rang true.

Bouncing from Lima to Cuzco to a lodge in the jungle, my grand-little Lindsey and I had a blast. But some of our stories stick out for their pure unluckiness. For our first three days in Peru’s very varying weather, we only had what we’d worn on the plane. Our luggage was lost, taking its sweet time coming to our little corner of Cuzco. When it finally arrived looking like it just got out of the ring witsome MMA fighter, we found most everything had been stolen from the outer pockets, though our locks had saved the rest. Thank goodness! A few days later we were in the Amazon rain forest  grabbing Lindsey’s iPod from our room at the lodge and—was it raining? No, bats were using us as targets for their excrement. And they were quite accurate. Later in the trip, we got stuck on a lake in the middle of the jungle in torrential rain (this time from the sky, not unwanted roommates) and had to hike through a newly machete-chopped path, and I could go on with the hilariously unfortunate events that added fun bumps to our path through Peru.

After our adventures in the city and rain forest  Lindsey and I had an incredibly humbling and exhilarating week in Piura, Peru, on a mission trip. In Piura, we built homes from the ground up. We brought food to families who needed it. And we took care of the homebound, among many other things. Through it all, we were greeted with endless love, grace and seemingly bottomless gratitude, truly opening our hearts and minds to what’s most important in life. We knew it before, but it wasn't what was in our luggage. It was what—and who—we found when we landed.

The only other time I remember feeling such instant, incredible warmth and love was when I joined the sisterhood of Alpha Phi those six years ago. The feeling of knowing someone would be there for me even at my worst, make me smile when that’s the last thing on my mind, and send positive prayers, energy or whatever you’d prefer to call it in my direction at all times is a rare one, and as sisters we are blessed beyond measure. After all, having someone to help you clean up after a bat encounter is irreplaceable. 

Alysse Gear is a 2011 alumna of the Gamma Omicron chapter at Drake University. She graduated with a degree in magazine journalism and another degree in English, and her most beloved college memories involve her sisters in Alpha Phi. As a collegian, Alysse was on several committees (New Member committee was her favorite!) and served as Spirit Chair, Community Standards Chair and Chaplain. She now works as a copy editor and the environmental committee leader at Reader's Digest-Milwaukee and spends her free time pursuing environmental causes, working on her blog and traveling to visit her Alpha Phi sisters. Alysse can't wait to make more memories as a new member of the alumnae world and help others stay involved along the way.

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