Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day: Our Global Community and Founding Purpose

Happy International Women's Day!

How fitting that International Women's Day, fall in the midsts of National Ritual Celebration Week! While we are celebrating the meaning of our individual chapter's Ritual, and the values our affiliation holds us to - it is also so important that we remember the purpose for our association and the power that such association can bring.

Association is a powerful tool that women have used throughout history to make positive change - from the role women played in the emancipation movement to women's suffrage, association and a common purpose have driven women forward to the positions of power and community we are able to pursue today.

Excuse me while I flex my academic muscles... the parallel of the American Feminist Movement and the Fraternal Movement is one that fascinates me:

While fraternal organizations have been an active source of association in the United States since 1778, many still do not understand their purpose or their role on college campuses across the country. Contemporary depictions of sorority life are centralized around images straight from television; blonde upper- class women wearing Greek letters, drinking alcohol, and looking for the most handsome and eligible fraternity brother. Not only are these images grossly misguided, but the collegiate acceptance or imitation of such are far from the goals and developments of today’s sorority women as well as those of the earliest Greek women, who’s origins date back as early as 1851 (cough cough, that's us). The grounds for development of these original associations directly sought the academic, social, and political advancement of women. Women in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries found themselves in the midst of a society that was extreme in gender polarization and allowed for little advancement for women in society. Women used the secret society and later the sorority as a tool to overcome the vindictive acceptance of these women as students by their male counterparts, both students and teachers. The earliest of these organizations and those that would follow under their model were formed to support female students at various colleges and universities across the United States. The founders of each of these groups developed a baseline of fundamental behaviors that would be incorporated to their academic, social and extracurricular undertakings. The primitive use for these associations acted greatly in opposition to those of men’s organizations, many of which acted with great animosity towards the few female students on their campuses.
In exploration of these organizations, the history and initial development is two-pronged. The first secret society for women began in 1851, then resurfaced with the first Greek letter organization for women in 1870 (shout out to our Panhellenic sisters!). Wesleyan Female College, the first degree-granting institute in the world for women, was home of the two first secret societies for women. In May of 1851 the Adelphean Society was founded by a young Eugenia Tucker and five of her classmates; at first this society was bound together by nothing more than a large ribbon adorning each of their dresses inscribed with their endeavor.  Unknowingly to their first members, this institution would come to touch the lives of millions of women throughout history. Their initial purpose, as regarded by founder Octavia Andrew Rush, was to “[found] the society for mutual improvement." The vocation for this “mutual improvement” was centralized on academic advancement and improvement. 
Eugenia Tucker found that many of the women attending Wesleyan were not as focused on academics as she felt they should have been. Their discourse was that of academic, religious, and political debate, committing themselves to a rigorous course of study. In the following year, 1852, the Philomathean Society, now known at Phi Mu Women’s Fraternity, would join the Adelphean Society at Wesleyan Female College, similar in their purpose and practice. While these two societies pre-dated the term “sorority,” their ritual traditions and academic ambitions would standardize the practices of such women’s organizations in the future (those Macon Magnolias will get you every time!). 
            While the foundations were being laid for collegiate associations, women had already begun to organize in similar means in the fight for women’s advancement and the advocating of gender equality. Three years prior to the founding of the Adelphean Society, nearly three hundred women gathered in Seneca Falls, New York for the Seneca Falls Convention. This two-day convention led to the drafting of the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, a controversial drafting written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This document set forth, as former slave, statesman, and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass the "grand basis for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women."
            Shortly after these Sentiments were signed, the first Women’s Rights Convention would take place in Worcester, Massachusetts. The first of many conventions, and a distinctive and momentous event in the history of women’s liberation, called to order the demands and details for a standardized plan of action to address the grievances against the legal and social limitations placed on females. Speakers at the convention addressed and spoke in defense of the legal limitations of women set forth by the Bible. Others spoke of the limited access of women to areas of higher education. Argued for sociopolitical changes in regard to the women’s movement, Lucy Stone argued for sociopolitical changes in regard to the women’s movement, and that women as persons had the right to vote and to own property, Abby Price spoke on the necessity to grant more open and equal access of women to employment and trade.  In addition to the recognition of the social distortion of gender roles, Sojourner Truth spoke at the convention regarding the need to recognize the disconnect of race in society and called for the equality distribution of rights for women of color that other members of the convention were working to obtain. [Passage from "Women's Development in Organizational Leadership: A Study of Women's Fraternities and their Role in the American Feminist Movement" Mary Simeoli, 2011, all rights reserved]  
          The issues faced by the early members of the Women's Convention body and by our founders are still very present and still very relevant in our lives today. While we must always strive to fulfill our Ritual promise and organizational obligations - we can also never forget the strife and oppression our founders faced as young women with a common purpose. 

Today, let us not only remember our Ritual and it's meaning, but also the importance of using our association to fulfill common goals, making this world better for generations of women to come! 

Love and Loyally

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Secret I Can Not Tell You, But....

This is my very own Ritual Book, for those that know me, you know this is my favorite thing.

I am a member of a secret society. From our founding as the Adelphean Society to our current status as Alpha Delta Pi, the practices and ceremonies I share with sisters are secret, and remain guarded by her members.

I love that I get to carry a secret... Maybe someday I will be able to pass it along to my own daughter, or niece, or even my own mom - but until then, the key is thrown away.

I can not tell you our secrets. I can not tell you our Ritual. The habitual ceremonies that take place every week, every semester, or every year. The knowledge passed from one generation to the next, the sacred seen and heard.... my lips are sealed.

Now, I have not told you our secrets, but maybe you know them? (No, I don't mean you've googled our way through Panhellenic secrets, or attempted to find out our grip or symbols)

In Alpha Delta Pi Rituals, sisters are given standards and guidelines, we make a promise of excellence like all of our fraternal brothers and sisters do in their respective ceremonies.

Each initiation ceremony may be different - while I can't tell you for sure - I'd guess they are more similar than they are different. The changes or differences between them rooted in our culture or history, our founding purpose and the development of our organizations. Our values, while we share many of our ideologies and have common community values, vary slightly from organization to organization.

Ritual is a secret I can not tell you, but it is one that I can show you.

Ritual is something I know, it is a secret I carry with me all the time. It is a promise that I made, and one that I asked my sisters to hold me accountable for.

So... am I keeping my promise? Am I living my life the way that I promised to do so? Am I valuing the relationships and cultivating the skills I said that I would?

Ritual is a secret I can not tell you, but if I am living my life the way I said I would, if I am treating others the way I said I would, if I am acting in a way that reflects the values that were shared with me... then you should be able to guess.

You should be able to guess what I was told. You should be able to guess what my promise was. You should be able to guess the meaning of the secrets I carry.

If as sorority women and fraternity men, we are truly showing others what our Ritual is, then when our new members arrive at our initiation ceremonies they should be able to say - "Oh, I should have known" or "Oh, I could have guessed."

Each and everyday we have the opportunity to show those around us our Ritual. No, you will not see inside our Ritual Book, or listen to the traditions shared only through word of mouth, but you should see it everyday. You should see it in me. Here's to trying.

Happy National Ritual Celebration Week
<3 Love and Loyally

I Love the Pin You Let Me Wear: Happy International Badge Day 2013

Having not written here since August, my poor blog is probably feeling neglected, and I find myself disappointed for not have better recorded this amazing experience. In thinking again and again about my experience (and lack of blog entries), I made a connection on this very special day. 

Yesterday, Panhellenic women around the world celebrated International Badge Day 2013. This celebration is a part of National Ritual Celebration Week, a program sponsored by our Panhellenic sisters of Phi Mu Fraternity. 

Yesterday, collegiate and alumnae sisters of all Panhellenic groups were asked to wear their sorority pins - to school, to work, to the bank, and the grocery store. We were asked to literally wear our hearts on our sleeves or as this year's theme asks "Wear your Letters on Your Heart." Established in 1997 by the National Panhellenic Conference, International Badge Day's purpose is to celebrate the Panhellenic sisterhood we share, and to show pride in our affiliation. 

Alpha Delta Pi sisters across the country sing "I Love the Pin," with great regularity, a song that our sisterhood cherish, and uses to celebrate the literal and physical symbol of our purpose and organization. And I have to say... I do love the pin. My Alpha Delta Pi badge has changed almost as much as I have during my ADPi membership experience, and tells the story of the places I have gone and the sisters I have met and shared experiences with.

"What are all those things on your pin?" I am oh, so often asked. "They are dangles," I reply with great enthusiasm. A "dangle" is a charm, and each one has a different meaning. For me, they show my involvement, my trips, my lessons learned. At first what was just a black diamond has since become my  timeline: 

October 31, 2009 - I am pinned for the first time with the black diamond badge of Alpha Delta Pi during my initiation ceremony. As a founding member of my chapter, I was pinned with a "generic" badge, simple and plain, but special none-the-less. That night at our Installation Ceremony I receive my charter member dangle, and my first officer dangle for Formal Recruitment Chair.

March 20, 2010 - I pin my Diamond Sister during her initiation ceremony using my very own Alpha Delta Pi badge. My sweet sister would give me a Diamond Sister dangle later for my birthday. 

April 25, 2010 - I was elected Chapter President, and again my badge would change... (elections happened in April since our Founding President was a senior >> Shout out to you, Kelly!!<<

June 24, 2010 - My first international meeting, I was able to attend Leadership Seminar in Atlanta, GA with Sister Hannah. It was the first time our chapter would participate in a summer meeting. A dangle would come with too! 

Now, dangles are all good and fun, but I will save you the recollection of my additions. This timeline would continue, and so too would the changes to my pin. As these additions came along so did my understanding and appreciation for the membership experience the black diamond represented. Each experience, each new interaction brought new friends, and ideas. My pin had been present at job interviews, at Panhellenic events, and even at my college graduation. Now my pin serves as a piece and symbol of my job. Working as a Leadership Consultant for Alpha Delta Pi I have the honor of a second guard on my badge; a symbol that for the rest of my life, will remind me of my membership in the sisterhood of the suitcase, and the culmination of everything I had worked for while in school. 

Our pin is a symbol - a beautiful piece of jewelry, but a symbol of so much more. Our pin symbolizes the promise we made to one another during our initiation and the secrets we value as sisters of this organization. It symbolizes the challenges our membership presents - and how everyday we must strive to do and be our best. Our pin as a part of our brand - a physical reminder of the way we have chosen to live our lives and the affiliation we share with women across time and space. 

Far too often, because of media, or the poor decisions of others, Greek affiliation can be something we hide. We don't want people around us to know we're Greek - it's easier than trying to explain the reality of our experience. What International Badge Day is all about is bringing us together, to those we had no idea we shared a common bond with, to express pride, and to dismantle the preconceived notions of others. So in celebration of National Ritual Celebration Week, "wear your letters on your heart" and show the world what membership in a Panhellenic organization means. 

When I wear my pin, I feel connected to those women around me, and to the women back home. When I wear my pin, I feel proud and accomplished - I know that the skills and confidence I have gained while in college and beyond and deeply rooted in what that piece of jewelry represents. When I wear my pin, I am reminded of the eight wonderful women who have been brought into my life, the International Officers, Executive Staff members, and chapter members who have blessed me far greater than I can express. 

What does your badge mean to you? 
Cheers to the pin we all know and love, and to the sisters we have and those yet to come! 

<3 Love and Loyally 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Don't Miss Your Miracle...

I have officially been an Alpha Delta Pi employee for almost a month now. Training has begun, and has flown by. I have gone to Atlanta for Leadership Seminar, home, and back again. I have met amazing leaders; women of gifts and talents. 

While I still cannot believe I am here - and have so much to share concerning this amazing opportunity, a post about LS or my time spent at Memorial Headquarters just doesn't seem quite right as the official "kick off" to this journey. 

Instead, I'd like to share a story that means a lot to me. 

In 2 Kings 5, we learn the story of Naaman. Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army. He was rich and well respected and all those around him knew who he was - he has been successful in battle many times. While very successful, Naaman was a man like any other - not immune to the discomforts or sickness of the earth. Naaman suffered from leprosy.   

Now, what does this have to do with being a sorority woman, you might ask. Just stay with me.  

Naaman has exhausted his resources and there was no hope in sight. Just then, a slave - a young Israelite who had been captured in battle - told her mistress that Naaman should go to Samaria to visit a prophet who would surly be able to cure him.  

Desperate, Naaman and his men set off.  

Naaman went to the prophet, Elisha. Elisha, too, was a well-known and important man. But Naaman arrived, Elisha did not answer the door, but instead sent a servant. The servant told Naaman to go to the Jordan River and wash himself seven times, and that upon the seventh wash, his skin would be healed.  

In a rage, Naaman shouts to the Lord. Angry that he was greeted by a servant instead of the important man he had traveled to see. While in fits of shouting, one of his own servants who accompanied him from Damascus, came to him and said - "Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it. Now why can't you just wash yourself, as he said and be cured?" 2 Kings 13

Naaman went down to the Jordan river, and did as his servant suggested, and washed his body. Sure enough, upon the seventh time washing his body, his skin became anew - his leprosy washed away and new clean skin exposed. Naaman was healed. 

Now, if you're still with me, I share this story for a few reasons.   

In some of the most difficult times in my life - this story has served to remind me: don't miss your miracle 

Naaman was strong and proud - as we can all be, far too often. Yet, with all his wealth and all his fame, his saving grace came from those most unlike him: the three servants. It was the poor, and the captured, and the tired, together that gave way to his miracle. 

And this is related to sorority how?!  

In our organization, and in our life, we will meet many people. We will share each path of our life with others.  When we are closed off, or judgmental, when we exclude others. We just might be missing our miracle.  

People come into our lives for a reason. Everyone of us is brought together for a purpose. When we disallow relationships to cultivate - personal, friendships, professional - we might be missing our miracle. We might be closing ourselves off to the person who was meant to give us something, to teach us something, to tell us something, to guide us to our miracle. 

When we only look to interact with those who look like us, and act like us, and dress like us, we may be closing ourselves to the chance of a lifetime.  

To the sisters with whom I have already shared this with, I hope you always remember what a blessing and miracle you all have been to me. And as this year begins, I hope that I too can continue to learn what it means to open myself up to others and to allow those I meet to teach me, just as I hope to teach them.  

<3 Love & Loyally 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes...

I feel so absolutely honored and blessed to announce that I have been hired for the 2012 - 2013 academic year for my dream job! I will be serving Alpha Delta Pi as a Leadership Consultant and I could not feel more blessed!

Alpha Delta Pi has already given me so much and now I have the opportunity to serve others, sharing the sisterhood that I love so much, and pay forward the many gifts that have been given to me! These past four years have certainly been quite the ride - and now I've officially signed on for the opportunity of a lifetime!

My my my little ADPi.....

<3 Love and Loyally

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

National Ritual Celebration Week 2012: All Day Everyday, Let Ritual Be There

Happy National Ritual Celebration Week!

Ritual is a part of every fraternity man or sorority woman's experience. While this may be true, the extent to which it is differs greatly. Some collegiate members see their Ritual on a regular basis, some talk about it, some learn it, some lead their chapter in Ritual study or practice. To others, Ritual happens once a semester or once a year - it's a book, or a phrase. It may have been edited down to be a short as possible, or pages and dialog have been lost or forgotten.

While Ritual should be a part of our lives daily, this week is a time to draw special attention to it. What does Ritual mean to you? How is it a part of your life?

I think one of the biggest problems we have as collegians is really understanding what it means to "live your Ritual." "Live your Ritual" is a phrase that's becoming more and more popular - I use it all the time... #LTR for short - but can we really live the promise and practice of our Rituals if we do not understand what they mean?

As members of our organizations we make many promises - we promise to go to meetings, be on committees, go to events, raise money.... the list goes on and on. But, the most important promise we make is that of our Ritual. No matter our organization, when we go through our initiation rite we are given an expectation - one set forth by our founders - and challenged to live our lives in the path they've laid out.

No. Living our Rituals is not always easy, and no, it is not always simple. But, YES it can be done. It can be done today, and tomorrow, it can be done at chapter meetings and philanthropy events, it can be done in our classes and yes, we can even live our Ritual when we're out at a bar or surrounded by friends.

When we take the time to learn about our Ritual we learn the lessons of excellence - brotherhood and sisterhood, academic achievement, the pursuit of a higher purpose.... those things don't have to live within the confines of Sunday chapter meetings - they can be there all the time....Saturday nights included!

Take the challenge with me this week to carry your Ritual with you everywhere you go. Live your Ritual by learning a little more about it. Live your Ritual by showing compassion and sincerity. Live your Ritual by reaching out to others and sharing your experiences. Live your Ritual by going the extra mile, or showing the extra effort.

While this week might be National Ritual Celebration Week - let's celebrate the gift of our Ritual everyday, starting today - GO!

<3 Love and Loyally

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Love the Pin...

The song says "Diamonds are a girls best friend..." to sisters of Alpha Delta Pi, the diamond is more than a piece of jewelry, it's a symbol of our commitment to our sisters throughout time and space.

While the first Adelpheans wore blue ribands scripted with "We Live for Each Other" today's Alpha Delts wear the black diamond pin. Some pins are studded with pearls, diamonds, or other precious stones, and some are plain and simple - no matter the additions, they are carry the same value. Two stars and hands clasped in the Adelphean bonds of friendship guard our Greek letters, Alpha Delta Pi.

This is my badge. Between the pin and our chapter guard are dangles - like an ADPi charm bracelet, these dangles remind us of our experiences, our achievements, and our hard work. During my opportunities to travel to international meetings of Alpha Delta Pi I've loved talking with Pi sisters about their badges and their dangles - what their experience with our sisterhood has been, and what are the memories recorded by the dangles on their badges.

As sisters of Alpha Delta Pi we wear our diamond-shaped badge as a symbol and reminder of our values. The diamond has four points and so too, we as sisters have four areas to which we commit our lives to.

The Creed of Alpha Delta Pi gives purpose to each point on our badge:
"I believe that I must strive to become a well-balanced person by following the dictates of the four points symbolized by our diamond-shaped badge: first, strengthening my own character and personality; second, watching my attitudes toward my fellow-beings; third, recognizing the value of high educational standards; and fourth, developing faith and loyalty." From these words we are given the four points: Self, Sisterhood, Scholarship, and Sorority.

When we wear our pin we give call to these promises and commitments for others to see. Our badge has been worn by women across the country who share the values of our 161 year old sisterhood. When we wear our pins we carry all of this with us - all of the history, all of the sisterhood, and all of our promises. When we wear our badge we re-commit ourselves to our sisters and the tie that binds us all together becomes a little bit stronger.

As Caralee Strock Standard concluded in our creed - "I BELIEVE that these four guide-posts, guarded by the stars and friendly hands clasped in the Adelphean bonds of fellowship, will lead me to achieve a rich and useful life."

<3 Love and Loyally