Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega

Be the 9,999

web_Emma_EriksonBy: Emma Eriksen
Sigma, University of Iowa
Region 2 Traveling Consultant

If there is one thing I have learned so far as a chapter consultant, it’s focus on the big picture.

It is truly is possible to fall in love over and over again with Alpha Chi.

One of my favorite new leadership theories that I learned over summer consultant training is to “be the 9,999.” Think of your favorite singer. In the middle of the concert, when the audience of people is cheering, dancing and having a blast, they don’t worry about the 1 person who chose not to come. They focus on the thousands of people who chose to buy tickets and attend.

That’s exactly what I’ve learned to do. “Being the 9,999” while on the road helps me focus on the lives that our team is changing and influencing and how each day makes this experience even more memorable. As a group, we consultants remind each other of our purpose and build each other up so we can all become the best women we can. Even better, while we support each other and serve our sisterhood, we’re also having the time of our lives!

Summer training was one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life. Our consultant team is truly amazing. We learned from each other, found our niche in the group and, most importantly, gained skills to give back to the organization that has given us each so much. There is no greater feeling in the world that sitting in a room full of your Alpha Chi sisters listening to their passions, perspectives and advice. And there is no better environment in which to grow as an individual.

A standout moment of training for me was a session where each of us went around the room and shared why we took this job; the words of my sisters brought the majority of the room to tears. As a few of my sisters shared during that session, “I do this because Alpha Chi is what I’m good at, and after graduation I sure didn’t want to stop.”

Why did I take this job? Alpha Chi Omega is never a past tense. I continue to find amazing opportunities in our sisterhood. Looking back on my collegiate experience, Alpha Chi did not only make me into the woman I wanted to be, but made me into the woman I did not know I could become.

I guess all twenty-somethings get a little nervous hearing the word “new,” whether that’s a new job, new place to live or a new life post-grad. Work toward your goals, make an impact, influence others and be a sorority savant. That’s exactly what I learned to do, and what the 21 other amazing women on the consultant team do for each other daily.

I loved Alpha Chi Omega before I became a chapter consultant, and I didn’t think it was possible for me to love it more. But this sisterhood continues to surprise me, just when I think my soul is full, a new experience, friendship or piece of knowledge adds to my motivation to give back. It truly gives me everything I never knew I needed. And for that I am so thankful.


Living Our Ritual in the Peace Corps

Aug_IMG_0056By Kim Kelly
Kappa Xi, University of West Florida

Our Symphony can be applied to so much of the Peace Corps experience. Every day I saw “beauty in the common things of life,” because everything else was stripped away. Living in a rural village where many people didn’t have electricity or running water, TVs or iPads, or extravagant toys for the little ones; I saw people who lived a simple, common life. And I realized that even without all these things, they were happy and loving, and there was true beauty in that. PeaceCorps

Another line from our Symphony, which rings so true for my PC experience, is “to see and appreciate all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may. In this case, her badge would be her culture. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be completely immersed into a culture that is so far from your own. There were times when I would experience something and think to myself, “No way. No way is this actually happening!” For example, during the ceremony where we volunteers were paired to our host families, I experienced oralating for the first time. This is where the women come from out of nowhere and circle you while dancing and making a very loud sound, which is made by moving your tongue very quickly back and forth (it’s not easy). It was so unusual and something I had never seen before; all of these women dancing and making this funny, loud noise, but it was beautiful. There were so many incidents where I was able to appreciate the culture here. And throughout my experiences the people of Botswana reciprocated. They made me feel welcomed and loved, always referring to me as their daughter or auntie. Regardless of our “badge,” we were able to appreciate all that is noble in another.

Aug_IMG_1128_4Although I could come up with a relatable moment for every line of the Symphony, this one sticks out to me the most: “to shed the light of love and friendship round me.” The mission of Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship, and I think that’s exactly what the Symphony is saying. Although I found great joy in the projects that were successful at my site, such as a boy’s empowerment camp (GLOW Camp) or the after-school peer educators club, the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my service was the friendships I was able to create with my students and the love that I both shared and received. The moments of learning traditional games from Gontle and Tono, or when Thati would come over to show me how well he did on his math exam, or when Lentle and Kelebogile would tell me about their latest crushes and then cover their faces with their hands, in spells of giggles, if I dared to tell the boys… These were my favorite moments. These were the moments when the light of love and friendship was glowing brightest, when I knew my Peace Corps service was worth it, when I knew I had created relationships that would last a lifetime.

Lastly, in the last line of the Symphony, “to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity,” these are all such important traits for a Peace Corps volunteer to carry. The thing is, as Alpha Chis we already carry these traits; Peace Corps just gives you the chance to exemplify them. They say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever learn to love – and that couldn’t be truer – but it is so worth it. You will learn so much about yourself, you will grow in unimaginable ways and you will have the opportunity to live out the Symphony in the most rewarding way possible.


Goodbye to Summer

web_Shannon_HigginsBy Shannon Higgins
Alpha Nu, University of Missouri
Region 3 Traveling Consultant

It’s that time of the year again! The school supplies section has taken over an entire corner of Target and become an office supply enthusiast’s dream! Some people dread the end of summer, but I was always that person who looked forward to going back to school. I enjoyed picking out fresh new notebooks and spending the last weeks of summer with friends and family, but most of all, I loved counting down to the day I would be reunited with my Alpha Chi Omega sisters.

Alpha Chi Omegas all over the country are doing the same thing at this moment. Some are packing to move into an apartment and some will be moving into a chapter house. Some are traveling by car and some by plane. But once they arrive, they will be greeted by the universal sounds that I will forever associate with back to school – the shrieks of sisters reunited and the buzz of women trading stories of summer vacations and internships.

When I began my journey as a chapter consultant last year, I was excited (and definitely a little nervous) for back to school. I hoped that these women I had been emailing would like me, that they would find my suggestions helpful, and that ultimately, I would live up to their expectations as a representative of Alpha Chi Omega. Looking back, I laugh because my worries were unfounded. Over the course of the year, those email addresses turned into smiling sisters who I came to know and love. These women welcomed me into their chapters and allowed me to participate in some of their favorite parts of being an Alpha Chi Omega – bid days, sisterhood events, chapter dinners, “The Bachelor” watch parties and even late-night talks about life.

As a returning chapter consultant, back to school is an especially exciting time this year. I can’t wait to see the collegiate sisters with whom I’ve already built friendships and who I’ve missed over the summer. I’m looking forward to spending time with the women who were some of the first to write, “happy birthday!” on my Facebook wall a few weeks ago and who left comments that made me glow with happiness when I announced that I would be returning as a consultant for the 2015-2016 school year.  I’ll be cheering right along with these women as they welcome their new sisters home on bid day and exchange hugs with the most recently graduated sisters when they return for alumnae events and homecoming. Since becoming a chapter consultant, I have been humbled by the strength of Alpha Chi Omega sisterhood. Sisterhood is not limited by age, by geography or by chapter of initiation. I am awed by the profound impact each and every sister I meet has on my Alpha Chi Omega journey, and I feel like I carry a little piece of every chapter I visit in my heart.

One thing I notice on every visit I make is that our collegiate women work so hard to live up to ideals outlined in our Ritual and to provide an outstanding chapter experience for their sisters. But sometimes in the rush of the school year, chapter goals and officer ideas are forgotten and the excitement begins to wane. Summer is a time for our chapters to hit the reset button. Officers can come back refreshed with new ideas, new goals and new enthusiasm to finish their terms strong. Members who may have ended the spring semester or quarter stressing about finals have a new year ahead of them. Back to school may be the end of summer, but it’s the beginning of a new page for our collegiate chapters. Because of this, I’m excited to trade in my swimsuits for suitcases and head out to work with the women who make my job worth every late night and every delayed flight. I’m ready to usher in the school year, and I hope our chapters are ready to say goodbye to summer with me!


Good Luck to Our Chapter Consultants!

Arianna MaggardBy: Arianna Maggard
Associate Director – Consultant Training & Volunteer Support
Kappa Xi, University of West Florida

About eight months ago, the consultant journey began for our newest class of road warriors. They applied, interviewed and were chosen from the many applicants to represent Alpha Chi Omega during this upcoming school year. I think I speak for the rest of our headquarters staff when I say, we have a pretty spectacular group and we can’t wait for you to meet them throughout their travels!

Our chapter consultants began as strangers, who then spent the last six weeks of training becoming the best of friends. Each one is filled with an undeniable passion for Alpha Chi Omega, and they surprise me every day with their positivity, energy and wisdom. Not to mention, their killer dance moves, silly jokes and unbeatable style! I feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to know this team and prepare them for one of the best years of their lives.

Speaking from personal experience, this year has a lot in store for these women. They will have their ups and downs; some travel delays, but hopefully no lost bags; some challenges, but even better successes; bid days; sisterhood events; recruitment and more. But most of all, this year is sure to fill each of them with an even deeper love for Alpha Chi Omega because of all of you: the sisters they’ll meet on the road. The collegians, executive board officers, new members, alumnae, advisors and future Alpha Chi Omegas of the world have the power to change these women’s lives just as much as they have the power to change yours.

Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know these consultants during their travels. They will be forever grateful to you for opening your home to them, waking up early and making a trip to the airport, showing them the trendiest place to eat in town, inviting them on a Target run and sharing a little piece of your Alpha Chi story (maybe even over a coffee date – they love that!).

But please don’t forget to also open your hearts and minds to our consultants as they spend their year with you. Listen to their advice, learn from them and allow them to make an impact on your Alpha Chi Omega experience. Take something away from their visit with you and always remember that they are your sisters in the bond.

Over the next few weeks, we will be spotlighting our consultants on our blog to help you get to know them even more.  I hope you are impressed, inspired and – more than anything – proud to have them represent your sisterhood this year. Get excited to meet these real, strong women and join me in wishing our consultant team the best of luck as they hit the road!

Follow their journey on the Consultant Chronicles and our Facebook page. #AXOCC!


Buy Licensed to Give Sisterhood

4-19-13 Alpha Chi Dallas-Web-130By: Selby Werner, Epsilon Psi

Let’s begin with a simple question: what is Greek licensing? (And why are we talking about it in a Ritual themed blog post?? Don’t worry, we will get there.) Essentially, Greek licensing is a formal process for Alpha Chi Omega and other Greek-letter organizations to protect the intellectual property assets of the organization. Since the trademarks of Alpha Chi Omega are the property of the organization, they must be controlled and deserve to be protected.

When you close your eyes and think of Alpha Chi Omega, what do you see? I’m sure we all have very different experiences and memories that come to mind, but in addition to those we all see the same symbols: our Greek letters – ΑΧΩ, the lyre, the red carnation, a pearl, perhaps even our open motto, “Together Let Us Seek the Heights!”  I want to reiterate that… that we all imagine the same symbols. Despite there being more than 130 collegiate chapters and over 130 years of Alpha Chi history, we all imagine the same symbols when we think of our beloved sisterhood. Why is that?

The answer is two-fold. The first reason is, of course, the fact that those are the emblems our Founders decided upon when establishing this organization. Each was chosen deliberately and each has its own special significance.  The second reason being that these symbols have been maintained and respected as emblems of the organization since its inception. One of the primary ways they have been maintained is through proper control via trademark licensing; by monitoring and controlling how the marks are being used commercially by vendors, Alpha Chi is able to ensure that they are only being used in ways that are appropriate representations of our sisterhood. Consequently, the integrity and value of the marks are preserved for future generations of sisters to enjoy.

There is no doubt in my mind that every Alpha Chi Omega sister can remember the first set of letters she received. It’s a moving experience; that special moment when she is able to proclaim to the world in big bold letters, quite literally, that she is a member of Alpha Chi Omega! Those letters mean something. They represent the truest nature of our organization – our heritage; our Ritual; our values; and our sisters, past, present, and future.

Too often though, that is unfortunately forgotten. It’s too easy to take the letters we wear for granted and forget that they represent something bigger than our four-year collegiate experiences.  My call to you is this: to remember that those marks have a meaning beyond yourOLP_Logo_RGB own experience in Alpha Chi Omega.

Alpha Chi Omega’s licensing program is fundamentally a process through which product quality control is managed. Buying licensed products is one of the easiest ways to help reinforce our organizations’ values and make sure our Ritual it is protected for generations to come! Luckily for all of us, Alpha Chi Omega has made it easy to participate in this form of Ritual protection by establishing their licensing program. Give the gift of our sisterhood by buying items that have been approved.

For more about licensing and where your chapter can find licensed vendors, visit greeklicensing .com.


Farewell Favorites

Sami_HolleyBy Sami Holley
Gamma Rho, Texas Tech University

With our next class of consultants currently in training, Sami reflects on her time as a chapter consultant.

After two fantastic years as a chapter consultant for Alpha Chi Omega, it has come time for me to say goodbye (and I haven’t even grabbed for a tissue—yet). It is a bittersweet departure as I am equally excited for the consultants that will fill my shoes as I am sad about leaving my memories, friends and sisters.

I came into my first day of training as a fresh college graduate who had no idea what was in store for the next couple of years. I have always been told that Alpha Chi Omega has the best consultant training out there, and it proved to be true that summer. I made memories with friends I will never forget, and I learned what it means to be a real, strong woman and to truly change lives.

While I was daydreaming about my experience as a consultant, I decided I would love to share some of my favorite moments with you.

Summer training: Wow! What a challenging yet rewarding experience. Going in, I don’t think anyone knows that to expect. It’s a really cool concept to work with your sisters. The level of confidence they treat you with is comforting, but the respect that they have for you is what really seals the deal.

Moving (away from Texas): Who even knew that just moving to a different state would change your attitude toward home?! Not only did I move out of the only place I knew, but I moved in with two sisters I had only known for six weeks—talk about really getting to know each other. These women became my best friends and my home. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into on day one. I can’t speak for them, but I know that I wouldn’t take back one day of our time together.

And, it’d be a shame if I didn’t mention my second-year roommate. During hard times she picks me up, she keeps me happy when I’m sad and she never, ever gives up on me! Talk about a true sister. I wouldn’t have made it without her, and I will never forget the joy she brought me when I needed it most.

Creating long-distance friendships: When you first hear about the consultant position, everyone always says you’re going to make so many friends. What I didn’t know going in is that your consultant sisters can become constant companions, even when you’re not in the same state. They are your biggest supporters and push you to be your best as soon as they meet you.

Colonization: There may be no greater joy in my heart than the joy I felt on bid day for our new chapter at the University of Southern Mississippi (shout out, Kappa Sigma chapter). I will never forget the moment I saw all of our new members running home to Alpha Chi. The women at Southern Miss have completely taken my heart, and for that I am forever grateful. They have praised my big wins, as well as my small wins; they have taught me what being a servant leader is all about; and they have brought out my passions.

Two years really have flown by. Thank you to all the women I met along the way. While I had the chance to change lives, you all were changing mine. It has been a fun ride, Alpha Chi Omega.


If Our Founders Were on Vacation…

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

By Susan B. Barnes
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University

Inspiration to travel can be found nearly everywhere – through movies we watch, books we read, stories relayed by our friends, world music… the list goes on! We thought it might be fun to take a look at our founders – all adventurous in their own ways – and suggest destinations that they may have liked to visit in today’s day and age.

Anna Allen Smith, who graduated DePauw’s School of Music at the young age of 19, lived in Greencastle, Indiana her entire life, and rarely, if ever, left the Hoosier State. A day’s drive – a perfect introduction for a beginning traveler – could easily transport Anna to a wealth of musical destinations, including Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Louisville, Nashville and Memphis.

Olive Burnett Clark – but we’re all friends here, so let’s call her Ollie, as her friends did – studied the piano, violin, cello and double bass while at DePauw. With her love of stringed instruments, Ollie may have left her comfort zone and traveled to the Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy, which opened last year, or all the way to Australia to learn to play the didgeridoo!

An intense commitment to music led Bertha Deniston Cunningham to become an accomplished performer and teacher at DePauw’s School of Music, not to mention the envy of the school’s students due to her stellar composing skills. Bertha would probably enjoy the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, or the unaffiliated MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Brussels, Belgium; a quick hop from Brussels is the charming, picturesque town of Dinant, where Adolphe Sax, creator of the saxophone, was born.

As the “little girl with a big voice,” New York City’s Broadway would likely be high on Amy Dubois Reith list, especially to see prodigies just like her. Closer to home, she could take in stage productions in Chicago, where she could also see a few shows at Second City to appeal to her sense of humor; she had a tendency to pull pranks on her sorority sisters!

In addition to music, Nellie Gamble Childe was passionate about roses and loved to garden. What fun it would be for her to visit gardens around the country! Starting with the gardens at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC, she could easily travel west and make her way to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Ore. And if Nellie wanted to hop the pond, I’d definitely suggest the gardens at Hampton Court outside of London, and Chateau de Versailles outside of Paris.

When Bessie Grooms Keenan had to give up her life’s ambition of being a pianist due to an injury, she threw herself into building AXO; her daughter Hannah followed her footsteps and eventually became director of what is now headquarters. This mother-daughter team deserve a getaway, don’t you think? For these two, I’m thinking of a summer at Tanglewood in the Massachusetts’ Berkshires, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra summers. The two could spread a blanket on the lawn and enjoy cool summer evening picnics under the twinkling stars and floating musical notes.

Of all of our founders, Estelle Leonard was the most like me – a travlin’ girl. Known to have a “developed independence, decision, and a rather bohemian attitude,” I could see Estelle hopping a plane for destinations unknown. Even more, she’d grab a bag and hop the Eurail, traveling Europe by train to whichever stop piqued her interest – perhaps Turkey, Finland, Croatia, or (maybe not surprisingly), Greece! She’d write about her travels, too – after all, she spent some time reporting for the local newspaper!

How about you? Where do you see our founders traveling to?

Susan B. Barnes (aka travlin’ girl) is a freelance travel writer based in Tampa. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since, graduating from (Southwest) Missouri State University (Zeta Sigma). Susan enjoys traveling to new destinations and inspiring readers to travel themselves – whether around the world or in their own backyards. Connect with Susan on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.


Sunshine Jamaica

GretchenBy Gretchen Pierce
Alpha Upsilon, University of Alabama

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Gandhi

At this point, we have all parted ways and reunited with our loved ones…what a week! As I look back on all of our wonderful experiences, and now memories, the two words that come to my mind are: serving others. From In the Service of Life, “When you help you see life as weak, when you fix you see life as broken, but when you serve, you see life as whole.” We started the week under the impression that we were helping others and the community that surrounded us. However, by the end of the week I was so proud to understand the meaning of service and serving those around us. The principal of “serving others” is about being equal. By pouring ourselves into the community and letting down our guards, we were able to serve not only the Jamaican community but, more specifically, the communities of both Church Hill Primary School and Pedro Plains Primary School. In return, they taught me a new way of life and how important it is to also serve ourselves along the way.

Each of us came from different universities across the country, but we were all equally nervous. I know I was counting down the days, then the hours and then finally the minutes until I would meet my sisters who would be joining me on this week long journey of service. It is crazy to think how we started out as strangers who shared the same bond, but left Jamaica as best friends. Throughout this week, these women constantly showed courage, love and empowerment. They showed me how important it is to be dedicated to Alpha Chi Omega, our sisterhood and ourselves. The quote, “I cannot do everything, but I can do something,” was one that I mentally revisited throughout this trip, when I stumbled upon an obstacle or something through which I needed guidance.neon

It is hard for me to open up right away, but I am so proud that I was able to this week because I can honestly say I met some of the most amazing people. I cannot believe the best week of my life has already come to an end; however, I am so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to share this with my Alpha Chi sisters.

All together we cried, we laughed, we sang and we danced. I have learned that Alpha Chi Omega is made up of so many different women, and that really is the best part. Someone’s weaknesses are often another’s strengths, and we continuously lift one another up when we need it most. This has been a life changing week serving others, serving the Jamaican community and serving ourselves. Until next time Jamaica, we love you…“Sunshine Jamaica.”



If We’re Doing This, We’re Doing It Together

BaileyBy Bailey West
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University

Saying this trip was a step outside of my comfort zone would be an understatement. I had never flown alone, never been out of the country and never met any of the participants of the trip. I was alone on my flight into Atlanta, but I was looking forward to meeting up with five more sisters when I made it there. When I landed, I was alone and unsure of what to do. I soon found Maddie and we were joined by four more Alpha Chi Omegas not long after that.

We didn’t know each other and we were all nervous, but there is something so comforting about being with your sisters. I felt like I had known them all for years and within minutes we were all laughing and talking about how excited we were to get to Jamaica. That single hour, out of the many hours of the trip, set the tone for the entire week for me.

While in Jamaica, we were uncomfortable, we were exhausted, we were sweaty and dirty and we were sunburned. But at the end of the day, when we gathered around the table for our nightly reflection, every uncomfortable situation from the day simply went away. In that moment, we were sisters who couldn’t wait to share about our experiences – share our triumphs and struggles. Each one of us accepted the challenge of being vulnerable and opened up to 17 women we had met only days ago. We shared about times in our lives when we were courageous, times that weren’t so great, times that defined who we are today and our hopes and dreams for the future. We encouraged and inspired each other to work harder, smile bigger and continue taking steps outside of our comfort zone. With the help of my sisters, I was able to conquer fears, such as jumping off of a waterfall and leaping into the ocean off of a boat. Our motto pertaining to the adventurous parts of the week was, “If we’re doing this, we’re doing it together.” I honestly would not have many of the memories I do, if it weren’t for the women holding my hands and standing by my side when the week got a little rough or scary.

We made a visible impact while in Jamaica, but Jamaica and Alpha Chi Omega made an impact on me that will last a lifetime. I knew before this trip that Alpha Chi Omega is big and it is great. But after this trip I know that Alpha Chi Omega is so big and it is so great.



What Can One Do?

BrigittaBy Brigitta Haller
Alpha Mu, Indiana University

Friday. The last work day. Something that seemed so far away when I first arrived on this beautiful island of Jamaica but went by too quickly, now that the day is finally here. We woke up to the waves crashing against the rocks on the shore (which I will greatly miss), ate our breakfast of fresh fruit and toast (which, again, I will greatly miss) and loaded the bus to head to our second site, Pedro Plains Primary School, with 17 girls who I call my sisters (who I will miss the most). We finished priming most of the (very, very, very, long) cement fence yesterday, and our goal today was to finish putting on a third coat of primer so we could begin the final coat – the red clay paint.

The teamwork and enthusiasm to help one another has made every day at each work-site a meaningful experience – filled with hard work, lots of laughter and, of course, even more paint. We didn’t finish painting the entire fence with the final coat of red clay paint, but it was amazing to see what a difference a small paint job can make and all the progress that has been made. If you have been keeping up with this blog, you know that yesterday we learned the why we were serving in Jamaica (which I highly encourage you to read). Now I know painting a cement fence may not seem like the biggest deal in the world, but for schools like Pedro Plains Primary School it would be an unobtainable project to complete themselves, due to the current financial crisis and deteriorating infrastructure throughout the country. There are not enough words for me to write nor ways to express how grateful and humbling this experience has been, why it has been an honor to be able to paint that cement fence and what it means to learn what serving truly means: the work of the soul.

After a hard day’s work in the vibrant Jamaican sun, we returned to Taino Cove together to reflect on this past week and what we were most proud of throughout this experience. The ideas about “teamwork,” “hard work,” “service” and “learning more about myself” were discussed, as well as how we can go back to the states and apply that which we have learned from this Global Service Initiative. We talked not only about how to apply these lessons at our respective chapters across the nation but also how to be an active citizen on an international scale. The moment that stuck with me the most, as we were sitting around together still sweating, sticky and covered in paint with smiles across our faces, was when we were asked “What can one do?” We were asked to read the following passage: [from One, written by Dan Zadra and Kobi Yamada]

The forest was quiet – too quiet. From out of nowhere came the clatter of horses’ hooves, and then silence again. A few moments later a flame sprang from the dry leaves.

“Fire!” roared the bear. “Run for your lives,” cried the crow. The forest animals, great and small, all fled in panic toward the river. But one small bird remained on the far bank watching the forest burn. “What can we do?” he cried out. There was no answer. “But this is our home,” he cried again, “We must do something – it’s on fire!” Silence was the only answer.

At last, he swooped down from his perch, scooped up a bill-full of water and flew over to dump it on the fire. Time after time he flew from the river to the fire until his weary wings were singed and covered with ash. High above, the gods looked down at the chaos below, and they laughed.

“What in the world is that little bird doing?” asked one god. “He is trying to put out the fire with a bill -full of water! But why? I will find out.” And he the god went down to Earth to ask the bird.

Later, when the god returned to the skies, he was surrounded by the other gods. “Well? What is he doing?” they all asked at once. The god replied softly, “He told me, ‘I am but one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.”

Tears welled up in the gods’ eyes and fell as gentle rain on the flames below, quenching the fire.

First of all, how awesome is that? Second, it’s amazing to see what a small group of college-aged women, who went from complete strangers to life-long friends, can accomplish in just one week. Just like the brave little bird, it may not seem like we can change the world or accomplish everything at once, especially when it seems as if the world may be against us, at times. But together we can make difference – no matter how small. One thing that I have learned and valued throughout this trip is that it truly only takes one person (or in this case, 17 Alpha Chi’s) who is courageous (and even at times, crazy) enough to take a leap of faith and make a difference – because something good will come out of it. I promise.