Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega
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Founders’ Day as a Founder

Kayla WrightBy Kayla Wright, Kappa Xi chapter, University of West Florida

Can you imagine what it was like for our seven founders, looking at the future of the organization, seeing it grow and develop into numerous chapters from just seven members in the Alpha Chapter at DePauw University? It must have been an amazing experience to see our sisterhood grow. I am sure that if they could see what our fraternity has become today, they would still be proud and excited about what we have accomplished.

As a founding member of the Kappa Xi Chapter at the University of West Florida, I look upon Founders’ Day very fondly and with much appreciation. Since the founding of our chapter, on November 11, 2006, I have grown to love and respect the Ritual, values, and bonds of our fraternity. It is hard to think that just eight years ago, 45 young women embarked on a journey: to become the newest chapter of Alpha Chi Omega as well as the newest chapter at the University of West Florida, and to show the rest of our student body what it means to truly “seek the heights”.

To the founders of our four newest chapters this fall: I encourage each of you to not only take advantage of what the national fraternity and the chapter has to offer but also offer your skills to help your chapter grow and thrive.  Run for an executive board position (most of our founding members did just that); and take the opportunity to learn from the consultants, headquarters staff, advisors, and other alumnae volunteers as much as you can. It’s such an exciting experience, and one that I am so very glad to have been a part of.

As your chapter celebrates Founders’ Day, remember the vision that Anna, Amy, Bertha, Bessie, Olive, Nessie, and Estelle had for our sisterhood. On this, the 129th anniversary, let’s encourage each other to seek the heights and continue to recruit new members and create new chapters filled with real, strong women.

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A Reason to Celebrate

Alexa_and_LindsayBy Alexa Gates & Lindsay Lausten
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Though it is not a Fraternity-sanctioned holiday, bid day is often greeted by undergraduate Alpha Chi Omegas with incredible enthusiasm and excitement. And why not? Seeing the culmination of hours of preparation and planning – designing bid-day shirts, stuffing bid-day bags, crafting name tags, sealing bid-card envelopes and taking all those extra steps making sure each and every new member is welcomed with open arms – is a reason to celebrate!

Part of what makes the bid-day celebration so meaningful is how hard chapter members work to get there. Recruitment is tough; it requires long days and longer nights (and lots of late-night Jimmy John’s orders!), lots of togetherness and plenty of moments of exhaustion. In the end, the result of all the hard work is welcoming the chapter’s newest members on bid day.

Lots of things about bid day have changed since 1885, but one thing always stays the same: it is the first day of many great days to come for Alpha Chi Omega’s newest members. Bid day marks their first day of sisterhood, and it is a great way to mark the progress of the Fraternity. From one chapter to almost 140, Alpha Chi Omega continues to grow in strength and unity. That message is especially clear on a chapter’s bid day, and maybe even clearer at a new colony.

At a new colony, it is especially gratifying to look out over the crowd to see a whole chapter’s worth of fresh faces who know they are a part of something special and unique.  To go from a colony to a chapter, full of members, in one day is an unexplainable feeling. The new members are filled with excitement and have no idea what the next few years have in store for them, nor how being founding members of a new chapter will profoundly impact their lives.

That excitement will soon turn into passion unique to the real, strong women who are part of our organization. That passion will come from sisterhood events, chapter meetings, mixers and date parties, late-night chats and learning Ritual.

After all is said and done, the best part about bid day isn’t the T-shirts or the decorations. It’s you. It’s our collegiate members and our alumnae who have come before and who have made it possible for these new members to better themselves and become Alpha Chi Omegas.

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Building My “Nectar List”

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This is my second year on the road as a consultant and most people ask, “how do you like it?” I love what I do. Now, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but those not-so-great days are far outweighed by the incredible experiences I get to have everyday with sisters of mine! So I thought I would create a “nectar list”- inspired by a blog that a friend recommended to me. It’s different from the usual bucket list because it reflects on all of the amazing things that life has given someone. I decided to provide my own “consultant nectar list” to highlight some of my favorite memories from my time as a consultant.

  1. I’ve laughed so hard that I’ve cried about the most bizarre topics. And sometimes I’ve laughed that hard because it was recruitment and those late nights and early mornings make everything hilarious.
  2. I’ve bought a magnet from every campus I’ve visited, just so I can show them all off on a fridge of mine someday.
  3. I’ve been there to welcome new members on bid day for chapters so excited to make quota after they had worked so hard to do so.
  4. And I’ve done the wobble at bid days too. Many, many bid days feature this song. I don’t understand the trend, but have surely embraced it.
  5. I’ve been embraced for my North Dakota roots, though many members have thought that the state itself is a conspiracy theory.
  6. I’ve pushed executive board members to aspire to their potential and lead with great confidence, poise and grace.
  7. I’ve traveled to states I never thought I would visit.
  8. I’ve enjoyed the local cuisines with sisters dying to have me try their favorite things on the menu.
  9. I’ve enjoyed sisterhood events with chapters like ice-skating, spa nights, craft nights and movie nights.
  10. I’ve gotten my nails done with a chapter president so that we could talk about the chapter, but more importantly life in general.
  11. I’ve had members I least expected thank me for my work with the chapter and for serving Alpha Chi Omega.
  12. I’ve met chapter members who have started their own non-profits for incredible causes.
  13. I’ve been amazed by the members I’ve met who will be future politicians, CEOs, astronauts, lawyers, doctors and teachers and these women will change the world.
  14. I was stranded with chapter members in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car. Later it became the funniest story.
  15. I’ve felt like another roommate in chapter houses, which feels so great to have a home, even if it’s a new one every week.
  16. I’ve been there to boost members’ confidence, to let them know how great they are and how much their hard work paid off.
  17. I’ve met many women who I knew would have been best friends of mine if my college experience had led me to universities I’ve worked with.
  18. In fact, I’ve been asked if I could be friends in real life with members and advisors that I had wanted to be besties with too.
  19. I’ve had the opportunity to work for my favorite organization in the world. A job that is my dream job.
  20. I’ve gotten to work with countless women as collegians, advisors, headquarters staff and my dearest consultants. These women inspire me everyday and make being a chapter consultant so incredibly worth it.
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Meet Jed.

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FOR RELEASE:

Leading Women’s Organization Addresses Mental Health

 Alpha Chi Omega Announces Partnership with The Jed Foundation

Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 10, 2014 – Leading women’s fraternity Alpha Chi Omega announced today its partnership with The Jed Foundation, an organization whose mission is to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college students. Alpha Chi Omega is the first women’s fraternity of the National Panhellenic Conference to affiliate with The Jed Foundation, joining men’s fraternities Sigma Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon in reaching college students.

The Jed Foundation offers ULifeline, which Alpha Chi Omega will promote to members of its 134 collegiate chapters nationwide. ULifeline is an anonymous, confidential online resource center, allowing students to find information about a variety of mental health topics any time of day. With more than 1,500 colleges and universities currently participating in the ULifeline Network, students will also have access to campus-specific resources where available.

“Our members are our greatest asset and their well-being is of the utmost importance to us. We are proud of this new partnership with The Jed Foundation, and the resources it provides to our members,” stated Alpha Chi Omega Executive Director Tami Shields Silverman.

Silverman continued, “College can be a stressful time with our members facing many changes. By collaborating with The Jed Foundation, we are able to put to use research-based best practices in helping our members navigate their collegiate experience. Should our members and their parents want more information about mental health-related issues, we are now able to connect them with this outstanding resource.”

“We are honored to partner with Alpha Chi Omega to help promote emotional wellbeing and mental health among their members,” stated John MacPhee, Executive Director of The Jed Foundation. “Together, we will work to provide members with information about mental health and wellness, including how to identify signs of distress in oneself or a peer and how to connect with help and support when needed.”

Learn more about Alpha Chi Omega’s partnership with The Jed Foundation at www.alphachiomega.org/jedfoundation.

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About Alpha Chi Omega

Alpha Chi Omega is a values-driven fraternity founded in 1885 whose national philanthropic efforts focus on domestic violence awareness and prevention. The Fraternity currently has 134 chapters at colleges nationwide and more than 200 alumnae chapters across the United States. Alpha Chi Omega is far more than a social organization, more than a place to live or a way to meet people. Its mission is to enrich the lives of members through lifetime opportunities for friendship, leadership, learning and service. Learn more about Alpha Chi Omega at alphachiomega.org and facebook.com/alphachiomegahq.

 

About The Jed Foundation

The Jed Foundation (www.jedfoundation.org) is a leading nonprofit working to protect the emotional health of teenagers and colleges students. Our programs are inspiring a new national dialogue on mental health, encouraging millions of young people to speak up and take action, and changing the way academic institutions create healthier campus communities and prevent substance abuse and self-harm. These programs include:  The Jed and Clinton Foundation Health Matter Campus Program, a groundbreaking self-assessment and feedback program that helps colleges create more comprehensive solutions to support their students; ULifeline, an online resource that helps students understand and address mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorders; the Half of Us campaign, with MTV, which uses online and on-air programming to share stories and encourage help-seeking; the Love is Louder movement that helps individuals, communities and schools build resiliency, create connectedness and promote acceptance; Transition Year, an online resource for parents aimed at helping to ensure a smooth, healthy transition into college life; and a portfolio of resources that helps campuses promote emotional health and protect at-risk students. Learn more at www.jedfoundation.org.

 

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The meaning of sisterhood.

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Faith, hope and love are three values Alpha Chi Omega has instilled within me. To a person unfamiliar with this special bond it might just be three words, but to a sister, it means much more.

When I watched the women of the Beta Lambda chapter at the University of Arizona come together during their first formal recruitment, I realized these values live within each member of the Alpha Chi Omega sisterhood.

Faith is vital in a new chapter. Women have to have faith in the recruitment process and in their sisters. I was able to experience firsthand how continuous faith in this amazing sisterhood undoubtedly makes a positive impact. Working with a new chapter going through their first year of formal recruitment, their expectations of recruitment were unlimited and they had no preconceived notions of the process. Their faith in Alpha Chi Omega and their sisterhood grew deeper. As a new chapter, they understood the big picture of recruitment, but when it came to learning the smaller details, their faith in each other brought success.

At times, during the countless hours of recruitment preparation and rounds, hope can begin to dwindle as exhaustion and overwhelming emotions develop. At other times, hope surges as members build relationships with potential new members, who might one day become their sisters. Seeing hope in a member’s eyes as she expresses her love for a potential new member who, “has to be my sister” or “has to be my little,” because the connection between the two of them was incredible. For any member, this is a memorable experience, but for a new chapter experiencing this magical and intense hope for the first time is unforgettable.

While working with a new chapter, I was given the opportunity to experience unconditional love. Unconditional love is “caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves.” The women of Beta Lambda demonstrated unconditional love for each other. They were constantly motivating, cheering and supporting each other when the process began to get tough. The chapter bonded together through the roller coaster ride of recruitment by always remembering their end goal. The chapter allowed each individual member to shape their own first recruitment experience. They did this by supporting and growing as individuals and sisters within our amazing, one of a kind sisterhood.

Through this rare experience my own faith, hope and love for Alpha Chi Omega has strengthened. I have learned how a new chapter’s faith intensifies throughout the recruitment experience. I saw the unforgettable hope in a member’s eyes as she met her first “rush crush.” I experienced how powerful an impact unconditional love has on a sisterhood and an end goal.

This has been a life-changing experience and I’m proud of the chapter I had the opportunity to work with. They successfully recruited 108 new members to welcome to this incredible sisterhood. The roller coaster ride of recruitment might have ended, but the ride of a lifelong sisterhood has just begun.

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A Sisterhood Like No Other

Alex_Schnelle_web

“To see beauty even in the common things of life.” As I reflect on my experiences from my first three weeks of traveling as a chapter consultant, the opening line of our Symphony is the first thing that comes to mind. When I took this position, I knew it would be an experience of a lifetime. I knew that I would come across chapters with different personalities and traditions. I knew that I would be exposed to several parts of the country that had once been unknown. I did not realize, however, how quickly my life would be changed by these experiences.

I am not sure when it finally hit me. Maybe, it was hearing the same preference song sung at each chapter, though with a slightly different twist. Maybe, it was seeing the same skit performed by different chapters, though performed with different jokes and a different interpretation. Or maybe, it was seeing the overwhelming support and investment of alumnae at each chapter, though given in various ways. Although it has been a subtle realization, I do know that I have truly seen first-hand the power of our sisterhood and how sisterhood in Alpha Chi Omega truly connects us all around the nation. In this short amount of time, I have learned that it is truly the little things that we continue to cherish and hold on to and pass down from one generation to the next.

So often, it is easy to focus on the big picture and forget to savor and appreciate the smaller details; the common things of life, if you will. I see beauty in the power of alumnae support and how impactful that can be for a chapter. I see beauty in the consistency of singing a preference song and how moving it can be when members from a chapter can sing the same song, regardless of their initiation year. Most importantly, though, I see beauty in both the commonalities and subtle differences of our sisterhood in chapters all around the nation. It is not our alma mater, our big sister, or our stitch letter t-shirt that defines our Alpha Chi Omega experience. It is those less identifiable, more important moments, which truly brings us all together.

One chapter member said it best by stating, “We may all be different as individuals, but when we come together, we form one sisterhood that is like no other.”  My first three weeks of a traveling chapter consultant have taught me many things, but it has definitely taught me to stop and appreciate every little thing along the way.

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Living the Dream

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By Shannon Higgins,  Alpha Nu chapter, University of Missouri

I distinctly remember the first time I met a chapter consultant.  As a newly initiated member, I didn’t quite understand who she was or why she was visiting, but I looked up to her. I wanted to be her. Throughout my time as a collegiate Alpha Chi Omega, I met more women like her. Each one encouraged and inspired me to apply to become a consultant, and I started realizing that I really could be one of them. And now here I am.

Although my journey as a chapter consultant is just starting, I’m awed and humbled by the experiences I’m about to have. I’ll travel to the University of Connecticut and help start a brand new Alpha Chi Omega chapter there. I’ll visit chapters for recruitment and share in their joy as they welcome their new members home on Bid Day.  I’ll work with the women who are leaders and the women who will become leaders.

Family, friends, and the people sitting next to me on the airplane may not understand what I do, but I’m excited to explain it to them. I’m excited to travel across the country working for an organization that I am passionate about. Most of all, I’m excited to meet and continue to be inspired by the real, strong women that make Alpha Chi Omega so amazing.  I feel like I’m living the dream.

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8 Reasons Why I Love Lyres, Red Carnations and Lyrebirds (and why you should too)

By Liz Ragland, Gamma Tau

I can’t pretend that it’s not true. It’s not a dirty secret or anything to be embarrassed about so I’m just going to put it out there: I’m kind of obsessed with all of the things that remind me of Alpha Chi.

I’m taking a detour from the typical ritual-themed post and borrowing a trick from Buzzfeed- a list! There is no sensational title or pictures of boy bands, or cats (or boy bands with cats) just an honest list of why our symbols, rituals, traditions, and history remind me of our common bond as sisters. Next time you see a red carnation, lyre, or a lyrebird out in the wild I hope you’ll think of our sisterhood!

  1. Red carnations are everywhere – If you have ever been tasked with buying red carnations for bid day or any Alpha Chi ceremony you may think that they are hard to find but really, they are almost always available! It’s kind of awkward to get sentimental standing in the floral section at Trader Joe’s, but every time I spot a red carnation it reminds me of the important events in my life as an Alpha Chi.  It takes me back to many times I was handed a red carnation: Bid Day, after Initiation, after Hall of Commitment, and after my last formal meeting.
  2. Lyre spotting makes me smile – Next time you are in museum, go lyre spotting. Our beloved symbol was used in many styles of art and architecture and it’s always fun to count how many times you can find our symbol in art, or even at Walt Disney World. Next time you do spot a lyre, snap a picture be sure to send it to Coffeewithcelia@gmail.com so we can feature it on Facebook!Lyre spotting
  3. Stars are always present (and so are your sisters) – Look up. You may not see the stars right now but they are there. Just like your sisters, stars are always present even when it’s daylight. In good times and in bad, remind yourself that your sisters are always there to help you along your journey even when they might not be totally visible, they are there. Perhaps it’s time you get away from the pollution of light and a busy life and seek them out.
  4. Fall, full of olive greens and scarlet reds, reminds me of a fresh start – Our sisterhood was founded during the season of olive green and scarlet red. To me, Fall is a fresh start. This is most likely because it’s the beginning of the school year but there is something in the crisp air that reminds me to refocus and reorganize.  Do you know what I mean? Perhaps this Fall you can use the season as an opportunity to reboot your attitude, your studies (or your work’s to do list), and your commitment to help your sisters seek the heights.
  5. Hera Day makes you a better you – Part of being a Real. Stong. Woman. Is donating your time and skills to make someone else’s life better. Every March 1, in honor of our patron goddess Hera,  we are called to do work that brings  happiness and well-being to others by engaging in projects in our own communities. When was the last time you donated an hour or two of your time to make someone else’s life better? If it’s been too long, find an opportunity! Visit serve.org for some ideas.
  6. Life would be dull without the arts – Music, dance, theatre, and visual art bring joy to our lives and help us explore new ideas or shine a light on an old idea. Our founders were bonded by their mutual love for music and I think any sister who has experienced a piece of music that gives you goose bumps or brings a tear to your eye understands why their passion for music was so strong and why it’s important to our heritage.
  7. MusicWho doesn’t want to “seek the heights”? – Our open motto was just as relevant in the late 1800s as it is now. Together, as sisters, we are called to support and inspire each other to seek the heights in every way possible. We seek the heights in our professional and personal lives.  We seek the heights so we can continue to grow emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Next time you’re faced with a challenge or stuck in a rut, remember our open motto and reach out for help if you need some support so you can reach your own “height” whatever that may be.
  8.  Because doing a lyrebird impression is awesome – need I say more?
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    Maximizing Your Convention Experience

    Colvinby Amy Colvin, Director of Education and Leadership Initiatives
    (Beta Phi, Bowling Green State University)

    Convention starts in 32 days, not that anyone’s counting… For those of you attending, the next 32 days will surely be filled with a whirlwind of activity, whether you’re still shopping for all the perfect convention outfits or trying to finish all the items on your to-do list before spending a few solid days with hundreds of sisters. As you work on that to-do list, I hope you will add one more item to cross off before departing for convention: “make a plan” for how you will maximize your convention experience.

    I, of course, as the director of education and leadership initiatives, am particularly talking about maximizing the educational opportunities, but there are also so many other ways to maximize your experience. As a frequent convention and conference attendee, I’ve learned to, first, make a plan in advance that ensures you are able to take advantage of all the opportunities that exist, and second, to go to everything (even the optional events and activities). Alpha Chi Omega’s convention can be a great professional development opportunity for you no matter if you are a collegian, recent alumna, or longtime Alpha Chi Omega, as long as you are intentional about your time while you’re there.

    Your plan should include:

    1. List the educational sessions you would like to attend during each speaker session block.  Speaker session information is online! We have lined up a solid list of outstanding presenters, many of whom are Alpha Chi Omega sisters themselves, to share their knowledge and experiences about a variety of topics that you absolutely do not want to miss. [Pro Tip]: If there are multiple people coming from your collegiate chapter, alumnae chapter, advisory board, local house corporation board, volunteer team, friend group, etc., make a plan to divide the sessions and split up so you can all share what you learned when you return from convention.
    2. Talk with sessions presenters before or after their sessions. Of course, be mindful of their time, but what better way to connect with some inspiring individuals than to make a personal connection. [Pro Tip]: Google the presenters to learn more about them and even consider emailing them in advance to make a connection.
    3. Make a list of new sisters that you would like to meet. Maybe it’s a sister you’ve connected with virtually through social media, or a sister you admire but have never met, or someone from your chapter of initiation whose name you’ve heard multiple times but have never actually gotten the chance to meet in person. [Pro Tip]: To make your list manageable, identify two or three sisters. Make sure you identify a purpose for connecting with them even if it’s just to say thank you or that you admire and look up to them.
    4. Identify the individuals that you’d like to reconnect with, maybe you haven’t seen them in a while or life has been moving so quickly that you haven’t had a chance to catch up lately. [Pro Tip]: Email them in advance and make a plan to share a meal with them.
    5. Follow up. Don’t let convention be the end of your learning and networking. After convention, email individuals you met, add them on Facebook, stay in touch with them. Also, make sure to share the knowledge you learned at convention with your sisters. [Pro Tip]: Give a presentation at your next chapter or board meeting to share all the wonderful information you learned.

     

    One thing is for sure, once you arrive in Palm Desert, I hope you have a solid plan to maximize your convention experience. I know I’ll be on the lookout for sisters executing their plans—attending fabulous speaker sessions, meeting new sisters, and reconnecting with sisters from the past. I look forward to seeing you in Palm Desert in July!

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    This is to be My Symphony

    by Seanne Louvet
    (Theta Pi chapter, University of California – Davis)

    Seanne Final GSI

    Being a sister of Alpha Chi Omega these past 2 years has been an indescribable experience. It has shaped who I am and who I want to be, impacting my life significantly. Alpha Chi has given me everything from life long friends to unforgettable memories. But, the most remarkable thing it has given me was the opportunity to go on this eye-opening, jaw-dropping, inspiring trip. I cannot fully express how truly blessed I feel to have been given this experience.

    To see beauty even in the common things of life.
    Traveling to a new place surrounded by strangers was a step way out of my comfort zone. I had to quickly forget all worries and inhibitions and just jump-in full-throttle. Being uncomfortable became the norm (especially with the heat and those darn bugs!) So, I found tremendous appreciation for the little things; the things that made me feel more at home or comfortable in this new setting. Whether it was a cold shower after a long day of working, the breath-taking ocean view at Taino Cove, the new foods we indulged in, a smile from a stranger, a comfortable bed or wearing my favorite Alpha Chi jacket, I am thankful for every single thing this trip provided me, even the “common things”.

    To shed the light of love and friendship round me.
    I never thought that in seven days, I could get so close with a group of women. We started out as total strangers from across the country, and quickly became a tight-nit family. Being with these 17 amazing women, I recognized the strength within the bond of Alpha Chi Omega and the amazing qualities each sister brings. Each of the women I met were so full of life, passionate, determined, genuine, down-to-earth, driven, smart, and the list goes on. Not to mention they all could make me laugh until my stomach hurt! Each one impacted me in a different way and they have all inspired me to continue to strive to be the best version of myself.

    To keep my life in tune with the world, that I shall make no discords in the harmony of life.
    One of my favorite things about this trip was our nightly reflections. I value the importance of reflecting upon and learning from your actions, and our reflections helped me understand the ‘why’ in what we were doing. I enjoyed getting to know everyone on a level below the surface, by sharing not only our experiences there but our individual experiences. I did everything in my power to be fully invested and present in every moment, soaking in the time I had with those amazing people in that amazing place.

    To strike on the lyre of the universe only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace.
    I was so taken-aback by the compassion, kindness and pure joy exerted by every person I met on this trip. Our bus drive Merritt always had a smile on his face. Our boat Captain and crew were utterly high-on-life, with all their dancing, laughing and singing. They taught me to be in the present and not to worry about what the future holds. Winnie, Denise and Amina are probably the strongest, most interesting women I have ever met. I indulged in their every story and soaked in their ounces of wisdom, determination and strength.

    To appreciate every little service rendered.
    This trip taught me the difference between “helping” and “service”. Service is a relationship between equals. The 21 of us worked tremendously hard this week serving the students and teachers of the school. But the hard-labor didn’t go unnoticed. The children of the schools served us in more ways than they know. The kids loved abundantly and were so joyful and carefree that they kept us energized and determined to finish. They sang to us in our bucket lines and gave us the strength to keep going.

    And to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.
    This whole trip was an act of “love, unselfishness and sincerity”. And the gratification you get after a week like this one is unreal. I have discovered my role to continue to give graciously and serve others. The love and selflessness the 17 women had on this trip was unbelievable and I have no doubt in my mind that they will continue making a difference in the lives of others.

    This past week has been a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forgot. The love, encouragement and support I felt from my 17 new sisters this past week was overwhelming and I could not be more grateful. This week allowed me to grow as an individual, and I believe I am now one step closer to discovering my passions, and pursuing my dreams and aspirations. This week I learned the power of one, realizing that it only takes one to make a difference. I have the power to return to my school and community and make a positive impact, and this trip has given my the courage and strength to do so. -This is to be my symphony.

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