Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UIFI Changed Me for the Better

I want to start off by saying everything you know about UIFI will never begin to explain how it will change you forever. I am not talking about how it will change you as a Greek or a leader in your organization but how it will change everything about you and who you are when arrive will not be who you are when you leave. UIFI changed me for the better.

My name is April Turner and I am Junior/Senior at Florida Atlantic University. When I arrived at FAU in 2008 I did not want to join the Greek System. The idea of being picked by a group of girls was overwhelming for me and I decided I did not want to go through the process. After meeting the Interfraternity Council President and some long conversations about how much joining a fraternity changed his life I decided I would look into it. Alpha Delta Pi welcomed me home in 2009 and I thought my life had been changed for the best and that I was set for life. And I was happy everything was going great and I could not have been more proud to call myself an ADPi. I wanted to help my chapter grow in any way possible and when I heard about UIFI I got so excited and signed up. I found a scholarship and was blessed to be chosen to receive funding to attend this conference.

Once I got the scholarship I was pretty excited about the trip but there was this feeling that I have attended so many leadership conferences that I probably would be very bored but a week in another state and a chance to stay in a sorority house became the things I was looking forward too. Then, in no time at all, I was getting on a flight to UIFI. After two connecting flights and a wrong flight I was finally there. Walking into the house I was greeted with hugs and smiles and one familiar face, Brandon, an Alpha Tau Omega who I did not really know but we both went to FAU and that's all we needed to connect. Soon after joining everyone at the house I was thrown into sharing a very private but growing moment in my life. From here the whole trip changed. I went from being excited about just meeting people to being challenged to improve myself and become a better woman, greek member and even a better ADPi.

We talked about topics you would never bring up in a “normal” day to day conversation with other Greeks; what worried us about being Greek, what we were doing wrong, how long would we last, what were we doing as individuals to change things, what values did we keep near and dear and so much more. Then we learned how to make these topics something we could discuss daily. I met a gentlemen of Sigma Phi Epsilon that changed my total opinion on his organization. An amazing council of awkward turtles reminded me that being myself daily will only improve my organization as a whole. Then I met two sisters who made my heart grow from the sisterhood they shared with me and helped me grow the love I have for my organization. And many more great fraternity men and sorority women who all grew for the better with me.

UIFI also gives you a chance to meet and have candid conversation with Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisors from all over the country. Many of who challenged me to improve as a sorority woman, along with a few who had to hold my hand as a I cried through some hard realizations that I needed to make. They will never know how positively their guidance affected me.

If I could press upon the greek community how important these challenges are and how they have changed my life I would say this, challenge yourself daily. Everyday you wake up pick one thing you want to challenge yourself on. I quickly realized that I could complain until I was blue in the face about things going on in our community or I could be the change I wanted in our community. Along with the change in the community I wanted to see I wanted to see a change in me. I have since learned my creed word for word and I make sure that every choice I make reflects back upon my creed. Doing this made it easier to approach sisters and other community members about things that were bothering me. Challenging myself daily has become difficult but with my UIFI family by my side I have begun to change myself for the better and I believe I have made that visible in my daily life. One place I think it reflected the most was in recruitment.

Recruitment can be a testing time for an organization but this recruitment was a test for myself. I wanted to press upon the potential new members how much my Ritual and values meant to me. I tied back all conversations to the values that I held near and dear to me because of my sorority. By doing this I believe that my new Alpha members now know how much my Ritual means to me and that sharing that Ritual with them makes our sisterhood that much more meaningful. This is what UIFI has pressed upon me that just because its a secret does not mean we cannot discuss how important it is.

Since UIFI I have focused more on my organization as a whole and making sure our sisterhood is living up to its values, Rituals, and living by the creed. These will only improve us as a sorority and make sure we are becoming better women everyday.

UIFI might have only been a week but the lessons I learned, the people I met and the passion I gained for my sorority will never be forgotten. I think every member of the Greek community should attend UIFI because the more that do the better our community as a whole will become. We are amazing men and women and we do some amazing things but we cannot wait for the world to see what we do now, we must continue to improve and make sure that this opportunity will still be on college campuses for our children and grandchildren to have. Imagine a world without Greeks, now imagine what you can do to make sure that never happens. A great way to start is to attend UIFI.  

Here are some photos from my experience:

Me in front of the Alpha Delta Pi house at Indiana University

With an Alpha Delta Pi (Alabama) who greeted me in the Bloomington, IN airport

My UIFI Chapter at the bowling social

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My UIFI Experience

On Spring of 2010 for the first time I was informed and offered to attend UIFI in the summer. Unfortunately, because of other commitments that I've made for that summer I couldn't attend any of the UIFI sessions. That summer two of my fraternity brothers attended UIFI and after they came back I saw some kind of change in them. The only way for me to understand what I was observing from them, was to attend UIFI next summer without any excuses.

In Spring 2011, thanks to the help of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation I was given a full grant to attend UIFI Session 4. To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to expect from UIFI. I just knew that I had to have full of positive energy and positive attitude to get the real experience.

UIFI Session 4 was from June 4-8 at the Alpha Delta Pi House. The experience for UIFI started for me at the airport in Charlotte where I've meet three other UIFI participants. We all were in the same flight to Indianapolis and had no idea what to expect from the entire session and day 0 of UIFI. It was very comforting to be able to connect with other Greeks before getting to UIFI.

One of my brothers',  Ralph Landau, from my chapter attended the same session. We were both representing AEPi and FAU. At first when I signed up for UIFI I thought it was wrong to attend same session with someone from my chapter and school, but I think it was extremely nice to be learn so much each day and then be able to share some of my feelings with one of my own brothers.

I've attended different fraternity and sorority programs throughout my college experience, but there is nothing that can beat UIFI. Some of the greatest things that I've gained from UIFI were more tools to keep running my chapter in the right path, the new friendships, and be able to share some of my personal and chapter flaws with other greek members there at the conference. There is so much more that is gained throughout the conference, but it all depends in the individual. Something that I want everyone to understand is that the UIFI experience doesnt end in Indianapolis within the five days you're there. It continues everyday when its implemented to your chapter or your council.

I have lots of plans for the upcoming semester after attending UIFI. Hopefully my chapter keeps growing and also Greek life at FAU keeps creating great leaders.

Martin Volinsky
Alpha Epsilon Pi , President
Phi Alpha Chapter
Florida Atlantic University

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why I feel committed to serve my organization.

Hello, my name is Fedjyni Gaspard, and I am a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I was former chapter president of the Sigma Iota chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and the current president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council at Florida Atlantic University. Recently I attended and graduated from the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute conference.  And I am going to share with you what I have gained from this amazing experience.
            UIFI is the premier leadership development experience for fraternity and sorority members. I first heard about UIFI last year, when one of the ladies from the Pan-Hellenic Association was speaking about her experience. She spoke so highly of her experience and how she felt inspired to bring back what she has learned, not only in her chapter but the fraternity and sorority life community. So when, the time came around to begin applying for UIFI this year, my fraternity and sorority life advisor encouraged me to apply for the scholarship in order to attend the conference. I applied for the scholarship and a few weeks later, I received an email confirming that I had received the scholarship, I was ecstatic! As I began to prepare for my trip to Indiana, I was beginning to feel a little nervous. I started to think about the fact that I would be traveling alone, and staying with a group of people that I knew nothing about for a week. However that changed, the moment I walked into the house.
            I attended UIFI session 3, and was apart of the fabulous chapter 5. A few people and I arrived the night before the conference actually began, so we had the chance to get to know each other and speak about our chapters back home. However, once the conference began, it was breathe taking from the very first day. From day 1 UIFI was intense. We all began speaking about the problems we faced as leaders in our chapter and our Greek community on campus. I almost found it hard to believe that even with all these different organizations and councils we all still had the same type of problems. Throughout the conference we got into in depth conversations about how fraternity and sorority leaders live their ritual. We also had many conversations about hazing and how this issue is causing the community to question our relevance, especially on college campuses. Our sessions were split up into small and large group discussions. I mostly enjoyed our small group discussions because we all had a chance to discuss our problems in detail and also come up with different solutions. Throughout those five days it was scary how open we all became within our chapters and also with other attendee’s of that session. We laughed, we cried, and learned a lot about each other; strengths and weaknesses.
Something that I learned from UIFI that I want to share is the importance of our organizations is and the things that we are constantly doing to destroy the value of them. I want everyone to realize that there have been some conversations about whether our organizations are still “relevant”? And we know they are, but we have to prove to the world why.
One thing that I wish to change in the fraternity and sorority life community is the way we live our lives on a day to day basis. I hope that the way our community live their daily lives reflects the way the values and rituals. I want to inspire the community to lead by example.
After attending UIFI I feel the same way I felt as I felt when aspiring to join my organization and the way I felt when I made the pledge to commit to serving my organization for a lifetime. I am re-inspired and committing to changing my chapter around for the better. As a graduate of UIFI I made a promise to be the change that I want to see in my chapter and I will do everything in power to accomplish that promise. I made a promise to Do More and Be More.