Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This is Convention Number 1....

Last week I had the honor of sharing in Alpha Delta Pi's 160th Anniversary Grand Convention in Phoenix, Arizona! Not only did I get to experience this amazing celebration of our organization with three of my chapter sisters and our chapter advisor, but I also got to meet and meet-again sisters hundreds of sisters from across the country.

While our morning began a little differently than planned - our first flight was cancelled and we were re-routed - I couldn't have asked for better sisters to travel with. Lindsey, Sarah and I had lots of fun as we traveled from cloudy Hartford to sunny Phoenix, arriving just in time to sneak into the opening banquet!

Every moment of this trip was not only memorable but magical! I gained a new appreciation for my organization; I truly learned a lot about my chapter, myself and my sisterhood.

Day 1: Welcome to Phoenix!

After the re-directions, the layovers, and the ummm...unique (?) individuals we met on the airplane, Lindsey, Sarah and I could not have been happier to touch down in Phoenix! After collecting our baggage (six hours later than planned) we were picked up by our chapter sister Miss Meghan. How lucky are we? Not only would we have the pleasure of sharing this experience with sisters from across the country but 4 sisters from our chapter and our amazing advisor Lindsey were all making the trip! Being from Arizona, Meg offered to pick us up at the airport, and we could not have been more excited!

While we arrived much later than anticipated, it still managed to be just in time! After checking into the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, we ran to our rooms, changed our clothes and raced to the ballroom where the Opening Banquet was just about to begin!

In these first few moments of Convention, I shared one of the most incredible experiences with my sisters. To most, the unvailing of a portriate would be nice, boring even, but to our sisterhood, it was a momentous occasion and one I will never forget! Of our six founders, five had portriates commissioned in their image. Their school-girl selves captured and preserved, shared with all the women who follow in their footsteps. Our sixth founder, Elizabeth Williams Mitchel, was "lost." No photograph had been found, and after many many years of searching, she was finally found! An inpromptu call to the Macon Library, a last attempt, led Executive Office to exactly what they were looking for and so much more! To their delight - when the phone call was made and the story explained, the reply of the woman on the other end of the line: "That's my great grandmother!" The search was over, and not only had Elizabeth been found but so had her family! Her great-great grandaughter was initiated later in the week (another amazing experience, but on that later!). The portrait to hang in Founders Hall was revealed to the Convention Body, as well as Elizabeth's decendants - how beautiful! A beautiful painting and a beautiful moment. I could not help to feel closer to my sisters and founders in that moment - something that would continue all weekend!

Day 2: Wave Your Flag

The 160th Annaversary Celebration Grand Convention was officially called to session! Another first experience for our young chapter, Theta Theta's flag was presented in the Adelphean processional for the very first time, along with Theta Iota (Bucknell University) and Theta Kappa (Flordia Atlantic). What an honor it was to carry our chapter's flag! While in my head I kept say "slow down, pick up your feet," I couldn't help but notice the view - I could see the entire Convention body - International Officers, alumnae, sisters... All once, in one place, I saw all of these women - the sisters who came before me, the sisters who in every capacity had helped colonize Theta Theta, had trained us, had taught us, and most important believed in us. We're a crazy group of women - we have big ideas and bigger voices and personalities. We're orientation leaders, and SGA members, we start organizations, and lead our campus. These women ahead of me at that moment took all of our personality and helped mold it into something greater than ourselves. I couldn't help but get emotional... (Cough Cough, Mrs. Sherry!)

After presenting all the chapter flags, the 2011 Grand Convention was officially opened with an address from International President Claire Brown Gwaltney. The address was then followed by our convention photo - all members of the Convention Body in their beautiful white dresses were photographed for the official Convention photo. Seeing this same photo from Convention meetings beginning at the turn of the centuary, I couldn't again, help but feel connect to my sisters and to our history. This photo would represent it's own history and I was a part of it!

Here are our chapter sisters, chapter advisor, and CPD in our own Convention photo!

Now that Convention was officially opened, it was time to get to work!!

We celebrated the many many accomplishments at the "Your Alpha Delta Pi Foundation" luncheon, learning about the many tools, purposes, and support our foundation provides for us!! We are so lucky to have an internal foundation like ours that supports us as students, individuals and as sisters through education!

This quit was made of philanthropy t-shirts of chapters across the country - notice that bright Jail N' Bail orange?! The quilt was then raffled off to raise funds for the foundation - Charles, the official ADPi photographer who had been to 15 Conventions bid $1,500 for it - only to donate it back so it could be re-auctioned! Oh, Charles!

The business meetings and District Caucuses took up most of our day. While at some times revising our bylaws became tedious, it was exciting to be able to vote and see parlimentory procedure in action. While some changes were gramatical, other changes or proposed resolutions would have a great impact on our organization.

After a busy day we were off to the Diamond 4-Point Dinner! As this was our first Grand Convention and we were colonized in 2009, we were eligible for awards! Diamond 4-Point is the first award on our tiered system and must be won in order to progress on to the next tier. D4P measures conpidence in general chapter organization and administrative business.

It was that time, announcing the winners of the Diamond 4-Point - I have to be honest, I was so nervous! While it takes an entire chapter, committees, officers and advisors to win this award, if we didn't win, I would have felt responsible - was I not paying attention? What if I forgot something? Chapter after chapter was called and still no Theta Theta..... Then, wanting to add a dramatic affect, they paused to especially recognize a few chapters - the first two were chapters that had not won D4P in a long time, but with hard work from chapter sisters and advisors, the chapters were not getting set on a great track! "Oh no, I thought, we didn't win!" We were a young chapter, we didn't fit into this category.....then all of a sudden: "THETA THETA!" We heard it! We did it! In our first year eligible we did what we had set out to do! See ya in 2017 Golden Lion!!

Day 3: The Vote Goes On and On and On...

Friday was spent in our second business meeting. We finished voting on bylaw revisions, proposed resolutions and then for our new Grand Council!!

International President - Tammie S. Pinkston, Zeta Nu / Gamma Phi

International Vice President of Collegiate Membership - Susan Swicord Mathews, Epsilon Pi

International Vice President of Collegiate Membership - Stacy DeMartini Bruton, Delta Sigma

International Vice President of Alumnae Membership - Renee Bailey Iacona, Delta Upsilon

International Secretary - Sydnee Jack, Alpha Omicron

International Vice President of Finance - Emily Erkel, Zeta Chi

International Vice President of Organizational Relations - Sandy McDonald Davis, Xi

Executive Director - Linda Welch Ablard, Alpha Omicron

It was absolutely amazing to see the process and incredibly amazing to actually be able to vote for the next leaders of our International Organization! We were also so blessed as a chapter to have so many options, so many women who were capable and willing to serve in such capasities!

That night, we celebrated our alumnae with the "Diamond are Forever - Bring Your Bling" dinner... Sisters dressed up in tiaras, jewels and all things lions, and diamonds! In addition to alumnae awards, we celebrated with another time-honored ADPi tradition, the Convention song!

All members of the Convention Body stand up to begin...

"This is Convention Number 1, Number 1, Number 1,
This is Convention Number 1, Have you been to 2?"

All the sisters who had only been to one convention had to sit down...

Sung to the tune of 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' we went through 27 VERSES of this song... with one of our sisters had been to 27 Convention Meetings - non-concecutively, her very first being in 1941!!

How amazing it was to see all these women celebrate many many years of service and sisterhood!

Day 4: Diamonds in the Dessert

The morning of our last full day began within an alumnae initiation and a Ritual Review workshop... it was amazing and beautiful to sit and see and really take in our Ritual. We're usually a part of it, and being able to see it in a calm and relaxing setting really helped me notices pieces I had not before - both as an Alpha and Delta sister.

After our ritual review we were fortunate to have Christ Blackburn from Campuspeak give us a Keynote entitled: "Response Ability," which was all about bystandard behavior and the different attitudes that contribute it.... it was funny to see every sister in the room "Ohhh" and "Ahh" in agreement as we talked about the different challenges we face in our chapters.

That afternoon we celebrated one of my favorite facets of our sisterhood - Panhellenic!! At our Panhellenic Luncheon, chapter flags from all the NPC groups are presented. We were also fortunate to have the President of the North-American Interfraternity Conference, Peter Smithhisler, speak to us.

Later that afternoon we attended two different educational sessions - I attended Trust, a workshop about self-trust, development, and developing behaviors that contribute to trust and Healthy vs. Hurting Leadership, a workshop about recognizing difficulties and difficult situations within our chapters on all different scales. Both workshops were incredible and I learned a lot.

My Convention experience ended with the final banquet - "Celebrating Diamonds of Excellence." At the final formal dinner the new Grand Council is installed, Alpha Delta Pi's highest awards are given out, toasts are made, and the official roll called. After the banquet, the entire Convention Body went outside and sang traditional ADPi songs. It absolutely felt like a dream, and was truly an experience I will never forget.

In addition to the actually experience of attending Grand Convention and lessons learned in education sessions here are some of things I will take away, maybe the most valuable of all: Alpha Delta Pi is there, always, connecting me to sisters through time and space, throughout history and across the country. My ideals and values give me way to a family of individuals that no matter what, will be there. In doing some self-reflection I realized that things - school, friends, chapter business, etc. - can be difficult; it can be hard, and scary and confusing. When all is said and done, this is where we should all come back to, the most basic principles the most basic notion and the basis for our membership. Our chapter's Ritual gives us important lessons, ones that should never be forgotten, ones that can make these difficult things seem a lot easier. I learned that my advisors may grow to be some of the best friends I'll ever have, and they're women to admire and look up to. I'll always have support, I'll always have sisters, after all - 'we live for each other.'

<3 Love and Loyally

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