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I’ve Never Regretted Saying Yes

By: Nina Ries
Epsilon Psi, University of California – Irvine
Alumna Appreciation Award Recipient

Although I typically write on the subject of business and real estate matters, there is an overarching issue that impacts us all.

There seems to be tremendous focus on being “busy” – and the most popular answer these days to “How are you?” seems to be “Busy.” Unfortunately, many seem to think that, because they are “busy,” they can be justified in declining additional responsibility, exploring new opportunities, taking on a new venture, volunteering or joining an alumnae group. I firmly believe that this is a mistake. And this mistake can cost you both personally and professionally.

I’ve never regretted saying yes. This is a refrain I hear often.

After graduating from law school, I went to work for a litigation boutique in Downtown Los Angeles where I delved into the world of complex business litigation and multi-faceted real estate disputes. Eventually, I joined a larger firm doing the same thing, but also added transactional work to my practice. During my career, I have received excellent training and had terrific mentors who were invested in my success, as well as some role models and teachers who may not have realized their impact on me. One thing that really stands out to me about my own path – and that of my most successful colleagues – is that in order to really learn and grow, you must be inspired to stretch yourself, to challenge yourself and to expand your horizons. Each of my mentors advised me to say yes to new opportunities from the earliest stages of my career, and they were right. I started off saying yes to projects to gain experience and a competitive edge over my contemporaries. Some of those projects were exciting while others were less so, but all of them were educational, and all expanded my capabilities and my marketability. Indeed, I use my experience as a litigator to draft deal documents designed to reduce the risk of litigation, offering value added to my clients and shaping my entire practice for years to come.

Saying yes to opportunities also extended into my personal life. Saying yes has led to incredible travel stories. I’ve made countless interesting friends by saying yes to opportunities with my alma mater. So when it came to involvement with Alpha Chi Omega’s local alumnae group, the only answer was yes – and my involvement has paid dividends in the form of new business opportunities, new friendships and the forging of a stronger, deeper connection with my fellow alumni. I’ve also had an opportunity to pay it forward to collegians as a way of thanking the alumnae who helped support my chapter when I was a collegian.

At 18, I didn’t appreciate the lifetime of fun, friends and experiences that awaited me — not just for the next four years, but for a lifetime. I’m thankful that membership in Alpha Chi Omega continues through every stage of our lives. Through the alumnae experience, Alpha Chi has always met me where I was. When I was a young alumna living on the Westside of Los Angeles, Gamma Theta Gamma (South Bay and Westside) offered fun events that I wouldn’t have otherwise had time to plan for myself, interesting meetings featuring speakers on a variety of topics that left me smarter than when I had walked into the room, a trusted group of girlfriends for referrals to doctors and service providers and networking opportunities for career advancement. As I gained more experience and became more settled in my geographic area and career, Alpha Chi offered stress relief and support — in spades! My current alumnae chapter (Alpha Kappa Alpha in Pasadena, California), counts as its members alumnae fresh out of college and those who have received their 75-year pins. At our meetings and events, we paint, learn to cook healthy recipes from a trained chef, we taste test dark chocolates and tea, we host speakers on topics ranging from health and well-being to a New York Times best-selling author, we learn about wine and cheese-making, discuss books and – of course – socialize. Through it all, my life has been enriched, I have learned about a variety of topics, I have made friends with incredible women who I probably would never have otherwise met, and I have an ever-growing list of local activities to try and places to visit, all recommended by my sisters. Best of all, over the years, I have met alums from other chapters whom I am lucky to count as some of my best friends — all because of this shared bond. I’m so thankful for it.

Many people ask how one could possibly juggle being a professional, a parent, and a volunteer all at once. My fellow volunteers are doctors, lawyers, engineers, real estate investors, investment bankers, medical researchers, teachers and executives. Most work full time (or more), and all of us have children and family obligations. We take on what we can at the time. During a recent conversation involving about a dozen of us, we all recognized that we have grown both personally and professionally from the experience. So I urge you: join an alumnae chapter and get involved – whether it’s by attending meetings once a month, volunteering as a hostess for a meeting, coordinating a group outing or serving as an officer. You owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities that await you and to take advantage of the opportunity for growth. Your professional success and your personal fulfillment will be the better for it. And I promise you’ll meet some of the most amazing women you’ve ever met through your participation. See you at an Alpha Chi event very soon!

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LPI Chapter Spotlight: Delta Rho

Delta Rho, University of ArkansasMonth: October
Chapter: Delta Rho, University of Arkansas
VP Philanthropy: Shara Thames

Fun Facts

Name of events: Volley Against Domestic Violence, percentage nights at local restaurants, Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi and leftover budget money
Amount raised: $18,000
Shelter that will benefit from the donation: Peace at Home Family Shelter

Tell us more!

1.  Please provide a description of your philanthropy event (did you partner with other organizations on your campus or in your community? How long did it take you to plan the event? What were some of the highlights?)

october_deltarho_1Delta Rho did several events within the past year to help raise money for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation and the Peace at Home Family Shelter. Our most successful event was Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi. For this event, we served pizza, salad, cookies and a drink, all for just $5. We invited the entire community – Greeks, non-Greeks, alumni, professors and even parents – to come out to have a great meal and support domestic violence awareness. We also had a silent auction for guests to bid on items as they were enjoying their meals. We normally start planning this event over the summer, and it takes place in October, so it does take some time to organize.

Another event Delta Rho hosted was Volley Against Domestic Violence. We invited the entire Greek community to come out and play volleyball against each other for a small fee to help raise awareness for domestic violence. To encourage our Greek community to play for the cause, we provided the winning organization with a prize of $200 for their philanthropy and a free function (date party) with us.

In addition, we hosted several percentage nights at popular restaurants in the Fayetteville community. Chipotle was our biggest success when it came to percentage nights because they give 50 percent of the night’s earnings back to your philanthropy. The others we hosted still had a great turn out, though! We promoted our percentage nights on social media and by letting other organizations know about them in advance via email.

Last, but not least, a number of our exec board members had leftover money in their budgets. Instead of just putting this money aside to be used later, we decided it would be more impactful to the families at Peace at Home, so we added it all together and used it to help us reach our goal of $12,000 for Peace at Home this past spring.

2.  In your opinion, what made the event so successful?

Our events were successful for many different reasons. First of all, our Greek community is super supportive of one another, so that definitely helped a lot. Also, we promote our events a lot on campus, through things like table marketing in front of our student union, visiting other chapters, chapter meetings and social media. In addition, it is always important that we make our events fun. We are always brainstorming ways to make our event atmosphere more inviting and fun for our guests.

3.     Why did your chapter choose to make the gift through the LPI process?

Delta Rho chooses to donate using the LPI donation process because it is the best way to ensure that we are donating not only to the Peace at Home Family Shelter, but also the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation.

4.     Why does your chapter value giving to both your local shelter and the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation?

Delta Rho values giving to our local shelter because a lot of our women volunteer weekly at Peace at Home, and the women and children at the shelter are more than just our philanthropy or a charity opportunity to us; they are our friends. Also, this past summer we witnessed another local shelter almost get shut down due to a lack of funds. This really helped us see the importance and impact our donations make.

We also find it important to donate to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation because that is the way Alpha Chi gives back to us. Without personal development opportunities like MyJourney and REPRESENT, we would not be the women we are today. It is important to us that Alpha Chi Omega keep giving us these opportunities to grow and better prepare ourselves for life after graduation.

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How Educators Live Our Ritual

For this Coffee with Celia post, we are featuring sisters who work in education.
These sisters in education have reflected on the themes “wisdom, devotion, achievement” as well as parts from the symphony and how our values impact the way they relate to their students.

________________________

Wisdom may sound like an obvious choice for an educator to reflect upon how our Ritual impacts daily life. When I teach medical students, dental students and graduate students, I am not only imparting wisdom to the students, but much more.

I want them to reflect, to evaluate and to critically think about the matter. In preparation for teaching, I often learn new facts and ideas about the subject at hand.

My style of teaching is an interactive one, whether at the lab bench or in a more formal setting. I frequently invite dialogue, which often leads to a student bringing forth a new perspective or a challenge to old ways of thinking.

Wisdom is not something static, it is constantly shifting and evolving in ever-changing, beautiful ways. We all have wisdom to share and to gain, no matter our age or our occupation.

Carol Lutz, PhD
Epsilon Chi chapter, UNC-Chapel Hill
Associate Professor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences-New Jersey Medical School
Assistant Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

 ________________________

As the Interfraternity Council advisor at the University of Maryland, it might seem strange to think that the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega inspires me and helps me do my work on a daily basis. I am constantly surrounded by men; clearly I am not a member of any of their organizations, yet membership in my own helps me find patience, understanding and kindness with the students I work with.

To see all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may.

This line of the symphony coupled with our value of wisdom centers me in my work. Each day is a conscious journey into understanding others more completely: who they are, where they come from, how they contribute to their classroom, chapter or campus community.

This line and value remind me to be patient, stay curious and above all – let the student share their life with me in a non-judgmental, purely curious, accepting way. Each student, fraternity man or sorority woman, comes with a unique story and background that informs who they are and how they show up in my office.

The symphony reminds me to hit the “reset button” with each student, to give them the undivided attention and care that they each deserve – no matter how busy the semester gets, how many meetings or events are on the calendar. This, in turn, helps remind them that they also owe this attitude and mindset to their brothers and sisters.

The Symphony helps me create a culture of care for the individual, to see the many different fibers of our massive community, and see the amazing work students individually and collectively contribute to the Greek community at Maryland.

Christine Licata
Alpha Omicron, The Ohio State University
IFC Advisor, University of Maryland

 ________________________

Oftentimes, academic goals are expressed purely in terms of achievement – that is, getting the highest grade, attaining a certain class ranking or setting the curve. One of the most important and under-emphasized parts of our Alpha Chi value system is our focus on a trifecta of values – wisdom, devotion AND achievement.

While excelling in the classroom is laudable, I try my best to encourage students to simultaneously develop all three of these values, and not just focus on the achievement part.

For college students, it’s a disservice to only impart facts and route information. Instead, professors and lectures should develop broader understandings, and prompt students to develop wisdom and an intellectual curiosity (as opposed to just knowledge).

It’s the wisdom — through scholarly devotion – that ultimately leads to achievement.

Robyn Stiles
Pi Chapter, UC Berkeley
Doctoral Student & Instructor, Louisiana State University

 ________________________

When I think about my role as a teacher these words from our symphony come to my mind: “to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.”

As a teacher, I consistently show my love for my students. I work at a school where there are many children from poor and/or broken homes, and I may be the only person that shows them love that day.

There may be times that I am tired or frustrated with my students; however, I have to remain selfless to ensure that their educational needs are met each day.

I also remain sincere with my students, fellow educators and parents regarding my expectations and goals for the students in my classroom.

Ashley Talbert
Theta Sigma Chapter, University of North Florida
Second Grade Teacher

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Celebrating MacDowell Month & Our Sisters in the Arts, Part Two

By Liz Ragland, Gamma Tau

The second post profiling sisters in the arts features Irish step dancer, Kelsey O’Connor and music teacher, Katie Wonderly.
-Liz


Katie_WonderlySpotlight Member:
Katie Wonderly, Gamma Tau

How are you involved in the arts?
I recently graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. I now work as an elementary music teacher in Oklahoma City Public Schools and the El Sistema Oklahoma orchestra program.

How did you first get interested in your art form?
I have spent my whole life loving music! My parents took me to Kindermusik classes as a toddler, and I had several incredible elementary music teachers that were huge influences in my life. I loved getting to sing and play instruments, but even more so, I was always eager to help my music teachers during class! One of my favorite childhood keepsakes is my All About Me page from when I was 6. When asked what I thought I was good at, I answered: “Singing and helping little kids!” (Who did I even consider little kids? Two-year-olds?)  I think I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue music education, and I was lucky enough to have teachers that encouraged me every step of the way.

How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
This quote is by far my favorite part of our Symphony, and one that I’m not sure I truly appreciated until I began teaching. As an elementary music teacher, I have the unique opportunity of getting to see the same children in my class year-after-year. Throughout their time in my class, these students will learn about many things: counting rhythms, playing recorders, musical vocabulary, orchestra families…the list goes on. The most important aspect of my teaching, however, is not creating perfect musicians. My primary goal throughout each year is teaching students how to be happy, joyful, peaceful human beings, and for me, that just happens to be through music! When I look back at all of my favorite educators, I don’t remember individual lessons or the exact words that were said. I remember the overall effect they had on my life and my eventual choice to follow the same career path. I know that not all of my students will wish to be a teacher or have a career in music. Instead, I simply hope to impart to them the happiness, joy, and peace that making music together can bring. I get the opportunity to strike notes of happiness, joy, and peace every day, and I can only hope that my students are learning to do the same.

What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory?
My favorite moment by FAR was the Bid Day when my biological little sister joined Alpha Chi Omega! I had been eyeing her during all of the parties and had talked with her some throughout the recruitment process, but I knew she didn’t have her heart set on a certain house and was trying to keep an open mind through it all. The morning of Bid Day, basically the entire house tried to trick me into thinking she wasn’t on our Bid List, and that she had chosen another house. I didn’t want to believe them, but there was definitely still a bit of doubt in my mind. The moment I saw her running across the quad wearing her first AXO shirt was one of the happiest moments of my life! I ran out to meet her halfway, tears streaming down my face, and gave her the biggest hug ever! My little sister was finally HOME, and I’ve loved getting to spend the last two and a half years watching her thrive in this sisterhood and love it as much as I have!

Kelsey_OConnorSpotlight Member: Kelsey O’Connor, Beta Rho
How are you involved in the arts?
I am involved with the arts with dancing. It is something that means a lot to me and I get to share that passion and interest with other people who are some of my closest friends.

How did you first get interested in your art form?
When I was four years old, my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to take an Irish dance class to learn about my family history and their culture (as I am third generation Irish-American on my father’s side). Ever since then my life has revolved around dance and I would have it no other way.

How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
In relation to dance, I strike the lyre of the universe when I dance. Dancing has the extraordinary ability to make me happy and fill me with joy every time I dance. Even if I go into a class after a bad day, I always leave in a happier mood. Dancing never stops making me feel beautiful and confident. It brings me happiness and that is also why I love it so much.

What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory: Even though I have been a member of Alpha Chi for just a few weeks, my favorite memory has to be bid night. Opening my bid to find it was Alpha Chi and then running across the gym to meet the other girls was an incredible feeling. In general it was a special and unforgettable night because my mom, my recruitment counselor, and some of my friends I met during my first semester became my sisters and it was the best feeling in the world.

 

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Galentine’s Day

web_Elizabeth_MartinBy: Elizabeth Martin
Gamma Nu, San Diego State University
Resident Consultant, Loyola Marymount University

If you have ever seen Parks and Recreation, then you know all about Galentine’s Day. If you haven’t, Galentine’s Day is a day where women get together and celebrate how amazing and special their friendships are. It truly is a day for “ladies celebrating ladies.” Plus, there is always an abundance of breakfast food!

As a chapter consultant, I honestly feel as though every day is Galentine’s Day. I have the opportunity to work with truly unbelievable collegian women, alumnae and headquarters staff members. Day-in and day-out, these women remind me why I chose to become an Alpha Chi Omega. They allow me to love my job and this sisterhood more and more every day.

As an Alpha Chi Omega, every day I am in awe over the amazing sisters we have all over the nation. We have sisters who can make a quick call turn into hours of chatting. Our sisters are the first to tell us that we can accomplish anything. Each and every day, they show us what real, strong women look like and I am beyond thankful for each of them.

We have sisters who are dedicated leaders and selfless women. Whether it is a chapter sister or a sister across the country, our members everywhere live our Ritual and push one another to seek the heights. Working with our members truly has made me a better person, sister and Alpha Chi.

Our Alpha Chi sisters are our rocks, our people and our role models. They allow us to be the driven, goofy, strong women we all are. As a chapter consultant, I constantly meet members who truly impress me with their spark, work ethic and dedication to Alpha Chi Omega. Everywhere I go, I meet members who make me proud to call them my sisters.

So this Galentine’s Day, I encourage you to whip up some waffles, grab some sisters and celebrate this incredible bond we all share.AXOnightout_logo_sanslyre

Today, February 11, also happens to be Alpha Chi Omega’s first #AXONightOut! As part of Alpha Chi Omega’s Healthy Relationship Week, celebrate our sisterhood and connect with a sister in person, by phone or on Skype and tell the world about it using the hashtag. Then send your photos to editor@alphachiomega.org to add to our official photo album!

Happy Galentine’s Day and #AXONightOut!

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Celebrating 130 Years of Sisterhood

Liz_RaglandBy: Liz Ragland
Gamma Tau, Oklahoma City University

October is a busy month for Alpha Chi Omega. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, chapters across the country are fundraising for local shelters and the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, in addition to spreading awareness on their campuses. October is also the month in which we celebrate the reason we all share a common bond: Founders’ Day!

Here are some ways collegiate chapters are celebrating our founding this year:

The Beta Omega (University of Toledo), Iota Chi (Middle Tennessee State University) and Zeta Psi (Loyola University) chapters will each do a carnation pass on campus. A carnation pass is when chapter members hand off red carnations to each other as they pass each other in class, in the cafeteria or anywhere on campus. Some chapters use seven carnations to honor our Founders, while other chapters hand out many more! To celebrate with sisters near and far, chapters can also do an online carnation pass by sending an image of a red carnation to sisters through text message, email or social media.

The Zeta Upsilon (Case Western Reserve University) chapter does a carnation pass for their chapter’s founding in September, and then in October, they have dinner at their chapter house with alumnae from the three Cleveland-area alumnae chapters. They also reminisce on their favorite Alpha Chi memories and sing songs. Vice President Ritual and Fraternity Appreciation Emily Ludwig also hopes to include a ritual ceremony in the chapter’s Founders’ Day celebration this year.Carnation_Pass_Loyola

The Beta Pi (Washington College) chapter celebrates with the campus community by handing out hot cider for “Cider with the Chis.” They also release seven balloons to honor our seven Founders.

Gamma Pi chapter members wear badge attire to class and have a special dinner off campus.

Gamma Omicron performs the Rededication of the Bond ceremony. They also celebrate by having a dinner and game night with local alumnae, in addition to performing their Founders’ Day skit.

Alumnae chapters are also celebrating Founders’ Day this month:

Iota Iota in Seattle is having a Founders’ Day celebration with the Rho chapter from the University of Washington. Rho will present its new member class, and Iota Iota will pin members with their milestone membership pins.

Gamma Tau Gamma in Orange County is enjoying the society of their sisters by celebrating with a wine tasting.

Beta Nu Beta in Tucson is having a formal dinner at the Beta Lambda (University of Arizona) house and will perform the Dream Cake ceremony for new members.

Sigma Sigma in St Louis celebrated Founders’ Day earlier in October with a luncheon and honored 50- and 60-year members.

Mu Mu in Kansas City, Missouri, will celebrate with a dinner at a local country club and will perform the 50-year ceremony. They will also assemble “baby bags” for families at the Rose Brook Domestic Violence Center.

Alpha Gamma Alpha in Atlanta is gathering for a lunch and presenting a panel with three current Alpha Chi leaders. Past National President Julie Cain Burkhard will be present and will share artifacts from our Founders.

What will your chapter be doing for Founders’ Day? If you’re celebrating this week or next, let us know in the comments section. Happy Founders’ Day, sisters!

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Building a Home and a Legacy

web_Dakota_HerseyBy: Dakota Hersey
Kappa Pi, University of North Carolina – Wilmington
Resident Consultant – University of Southern Mississippi

It is no secret that membership in Alpha Chi Omega is immensely special to everyone who has the privilege to call themselves a sister.

I have so much admiration for the founders who created this organization that has molded me into the woman I never knew I could be. They had a vision. They dreamed of creating a home on campus where they did not currently have one. One that offered the same lifelong development and friendship that other organizations had, but one that was perfect for them.

As a founding member of the Kappa Pi chapter, this vision resonates with me because I shared the same dream. I did not have an organization to call my own until I ran into the confident, authentic, beautiful Alpha Chi consultant team on campus. They presented an opportunity for my future sisters and me to become a part of this wonderful sisterhood that provides more than we could ever give back. They are the reason that vision came to life. They are also the reason I am who I am today and why I love Alpha Chi Omega as much as I do.

The main reason I was so determined to become a consultant was to see this vision come to life in many other chapters. I was beyond excited to inspire members the way every consultant has inspired me and, in turn, be encouraged by the members’ passion and dedication. After coaching one of the five chapters installed this past year, Kappa Sigma, through their first formal recruitment, I witnessed the same desire and drive to succeed as I saw in my founding class.

I absolutely loved my collegiate and founding experience. Now, as a consultant to a chapter filled with incredibly bright, talented, charismatic founding members and the new members they have recruited, I can’t even express the joy it brings me to work with them and listen to their stories.

The other day, I had the opportunity to ask a few of them what brought them to Alpha Chi. How and why did they choose to join this new chapter? It made my heart happy to hear what sounded like my own story and vision as the basis for the reasons they chose to create history as the founding class of Kappa Sigma. They were searching for something more and (with the help of some awesome consultants!) found it in Alpha Chi. They are willing to work for the sisterhood they have envisioned and they will stop at nothing until their chapter rises “To The Top!” I know that it is members like these women who make up all of the newest chapters of Alpha Chi Omega and I couldn’t be more proud.

If you are considering founding membership in Alpha Chi Omega, my advice to you is absolutely go for it. Being a founder is a once in a lifetime experience. You get to create a home on campus that does not yet exist for not only yourself but also the thousands of women who will come behind you. You have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the original founders of Alpha Chi Omega. It’s hard to believe, but before you know it you’ll be alongside your sisters, rocking your first formal recruitment, mentoring new members just like yourself and taking your unique experience into your future – as a real, strong woman of Alpha Chi Omega.

 

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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!

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More Than Sisters

KristineBy Kristine Bachicha
Gamma Tau, Oklahoma City University

If I had to describe my experience in Jamaica thus far, it would be that through everything we do, my Alpha Chi sisters and I have learned to let go, open our minds and jump in. The first day we arrived in Jamaica, eighteen of us who had not met before were thrown into a new environment. We all had to let go of any insecurities and begin bonding right away, which pushed me out of my introverted shell. On our first full day in Jamaica we literally jumped into the ocean before swimming into a cave with bats. This was a great representation of our group diving into a new culture with new people.

Our first two work days involved scraping walls, painting and making mortar and cement for fixing construction issues. We all quickly realized how important it is to have an open mind when experiencing a new culture. When you are not open to new possibilities, you limit yourself to what you can learn. It was very interesting to be a part of the process in making our own mortar and cement to be used. The Jamaican children from the school we were serving were very welcoming and openly let us join in their recess games. Being open to trying new foods, getting your hair braided by Jamaican children and spending a day working on a cottage were all necessary to get as much out of the process as possible.

Today involved a long and very packed bus ride, which was balanced out by beautiful waterfalls and refreshing water. The theme for today was definitely adventure. Some of us jumped off a rope swing or jumped into a waterfall. None of us were sure what to expect after leaving our first location to which we had already gotten accustomed. We loved the new location with a pool, until the power went out. We kept a positive attitude by taking a flashlight lit tour, telling ghost stories and going on a journey to get ice cream. The break from work and reflection on our achievements and our lives as a whole led us to really appreciate our vacation day and time here with each other. It was clear today that we are no longer just sisters brought together for a common purpose, but great friends.

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A New Perspective

003By Joelene Dittman
Delta Tau, Minnesota State University Mankato
My first day in Jamaica has already been quite the adventure! After going through immigration and navigating our way around the Jamaican airport, we knew we were in for quite the cultural experience.
The minute I connected with all of my sisters from across the nation, I could sense the passion, excitement and ambition from each of my sisters. Our adventure of this wonderful culture started with an hour and a half bus ride from the airport to the Whistling Bird Resort. The beach was calling all Alpha Chi’s; there was no doubt that we would take a swim, lay out on the beach and take lots of pictures during the beautiful sunset.
The Jamaican culture already has so much to offer. Dinner was served family-style with coconut chicken, soup and side dishes. It is easy to see the local Jamaicans’ charisma, the passion they have for their culture and how welcoming they are to visitors. Tomorrow we will be going to church, setting out on more adventures and making even more memories. Tonight consisted of a whole-group reflection, in which everyone contributed and discussed their thoughts about this journey so far. 009
We have come to a consensus: this Global Service Project will not only help us become global citizens but will also help us view people and places in a new perspective, as well as form a new sisterhood that will result in making an impact on an area that is in such need. I am far beyond blessed to be a part of this endeavor and could not ask for a better group of girls and trip advisors to help us seek the heights and accomplish so much.
LITB, Joelene Dittman