As life is slowly picking up again (or in some cases, running like a train off of the tracks), there have been some fun things happening that we should be excited about while also staying safe and healthy. For me, this weekend was a milestone in my college experience because I got to partake in Gamma Phi Beta Convention. Gamma Phi Beta is the sorority that I have joined while in college, and the theme for convention was “Our Oasis.”
For today’s blog post, I wanted to reflect on my sorority experience and talk about how Gamma Phi Beta has become my oasis in college. Keep reading to find out about how this organization has impacted my college experience and character development.
So I ran home to Gamma Phi Beta in 2016. At my first chapter meeting, I remember everyone talking about convention and what an experience it was to go. I had wondered about what it was, and when I found out, I thought it was so cool that I not only joined what was (at the time) the largest Panhellenic sorority on campus, but also one with an international reach.
Then I met the girl who would become my big in the organization, and she had attended convention that summer as well. Upon hearing about how the traditions, values, and rituals of this sisterhood unified all these women from all over. I knew that it was something that I would want to experience before I graduated, and there wouldn’t bee too many opportunities for me to attend. That’s because convention takes place every other year. I didn’t get to go in 2018, and this year was my last chance to go before graduating.
While COVID-19 has forced convention online this year, I benefited from that because I was originally not chosen to go to represent my chapter. Since the situation changed, there was some extra funding for a few more people to virtually attend. Being one of those people who were able to attend made me feel more sure that I’m graduating at the right time for me. While I wish I could have met and interacted with sisters from different chapters and felt that special connection with everyone, I’m glad that I could have this full-circle feeling.
The Moments that Gamma Phi Beta Felt Like My Oasis
So the theme for this year’s convention is “Our Oasis.” Since it seems like I blinked and made it to the end of my collegiate career, I thought that it would be great to reflect on my experience. These moments that I’m about to share with you are the ones that really highlight my Greek life experience, and they’re the ones that have made me feel like Gamma Phi Beta is my oasis away from home.
- Philanthropy Day: I knew that I wanted to be a Gamma Phi Beta on Philanthropy Day. I remember walking through the doors and feeling a bit distraught because I had been cut by so many sororities and just feeling unwanted. That day, I was talking to this girl who initially didn’t seem comfortable with me, probably because I wasn’t so forthcoming. Then we watched the video they played to showcase their philanthropy, and by the end I was tearing up. That moment made me feel a connection to her, and then I opened up to her more. We ended up connecting over our mutual love of writing, and since meeting her and learning about Girls on the Run, I knew I wanted to run home to Gamma Phi Beta.
- Quick side note: Girls on the Run is an amazing organization dedicated to building strong girls, and I connected with it as an older sister of 4 girls who wanted nothing more than for my little sisters to develop into strong, healthy young women. I grew up struggling with my self-confidence, so I can sense the importance of the mission for Girls on the Run.
- My Bid Day: No one forgets their first bid day, and no one gets another one like their first. There’s a great feeling when you have the sense that you belong somewhere, and that place wants you too. I ran home to a girl who was pretty cool, and I still talk to her from time to time. What makes my bid day really special is that we went to Disney Springs to watch a Cirque du Solei show. As I’ve mentioned countless times, I love Disney, and I’ve actually never seen this show before. I will also say that this is the first time that I had a Disney candy apple, and now have an obsession with them because I remember this day every time I have one.
- When I Became a Little: As an older sister, I have never really had the feeling like I’ve been taken care of, mostly because I was always trying to take care of everyone else. So for me, being the “little” was another experience. I had someone else spoiling me, and someone else taking care of me for a change. It was a nice change, and even better was that I had someone that would understand and look out for me. Of course, I wasn’t so great at the role reversal, and my big would joke that I was the one with my life together. We still check on each other from time to time.
- Attending AFLV: So AFLV stands for the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values, and there are two conferences that they host annually. After becoming Recording Secretary of my chapter, I was able to attend the Central conference. I was able to meet people in Greek Life up and down the east coast and central time zone. It was kind of like the aspect of convention that I didn’t get since it was online. I even made a few friends from that experience that I check-in with from time to time.
- Garden Party Formal: So I’ve been to a couple of semi-formal and formal events, and the reason that this formal stands out is because I talk about it all the time since that is the formal where I met my now-boyfriend. Yeah, he saw me from across the room and thought, “Why does she look so sad?” And then I guess I must have turned a different way, or smiled or something, because then he thought, “Oh, she’s beautiful.” Or at least, that’s what he tells me. My sorority sisters all tell me that he was trying to get dirt on me all night, and I guess I didn’t notice him. Our story always seems like a fairy tale to me.
- Becoming a Big (Twice): There is something special about the relationship between a big sister and a little sister. I believe that I am a better big than I am a little, it just seems to be my personality.
- The first time: I actually ended up with twins the first time around. At the end of big-little season, my attitude was, “I don’t think anyone will want me as a big, but if it happens, then it happens.” Before lists were due, I spent a week kind of speed dating everyone. Then the night that lists were due, I got a phone call starting with, “Congratulations, you have twins!” And I was very shocked. One of those relationships ended up being very rocky, but I’m very glad that the other one worked out better.
- The second time: While it was unofficial and out of season, this one worked out better. She wasn’t having a great experience with her big, and we were having a great bonding experience over crumbling relationships and The Bachelor. So after her little approached me, I didn’t see the harm and planned her a grand big-little reveal. We still talk all the time.
Have you ever considered joining Greek Life? What is your favorite college memory? How would you define sisterhood? Tell me in the comments below!
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