Proud to be one of the first and finest.

Sometimes it surprises people to know I pledged a sorority in college. It sure surprised my high school friends when I went "home" to Abu Dhabi that first Christmas break after graduation.

Last weekend I found myself in Atlanta, GA for Alpha Delta Pi's District Leadership Conference. I haven't been to one in three years due to spending my spring semesters in France for work prior to this year. I attended the DLC in 2009, right after I finished traveling as a Senior Leadership Consultant for ADPi, and remember how much fun it was attending the conference as an advisor, but it was also bittersweet to realize my LC group would soon become a distant  memory.

Returning three years later, it was strange, strange, to be back.

Where am I?
What is this?
What am I doing here?
Did I bring the right outfits?
What does it all mean?
Who are these women, and why do they do these things?
I should have brought that other dress.
What is the purpose of all this?
Why are some chapter officers in matching outfits, really?
Where am I supposed to be and what should I be doing?
Maybe I'm too far removed from all this now...
Am I really making a difference in people's lives?
I wonder if anyone will remember me?
Why did I pack so light?
Why aren't my LC sisters here?
I wish me LC sisters were here. 
I hope I know what I'm expected to know...

Kimmy, a fellow advisor, asked if I was okay a few hours after we arrived.

"Yeah. Just a little out of sorts. This all feels very strange. I'm taking it in. Memories are flooding back. Good, bad, awkward, sad, happy, just memories..."

So many thoughts and questions. So much to reflect on.

Fast forward to the end of Saturday, the long day that started at 6:30am with my fourkickshalf-attempt-at-a-five-mile-run, and ended after 11:00pm.

Chapter Presidents are given ribbons
for various awards their chapters are
recognized for during the year.
I am so good at this!
Why would anyone choose not to be involved in this?
I wish I had money to spend at Sorority Spirit
Alpha Delta Pi is amazing
I wish I had brought that other dress...
I wonder when I'll be ready (and a position available) on a district team?
Wow, we provide so many opportunities for our members
Hey, I totally forgot there are resources for alumnae too!
I wonder if the Foundation has development officers? 
I want to be a stay-at-home wife and do ADPi all day.
I can't wait to be on Grand Council, I wonder who the youngest member-ever was?
Maybe Markus could work for the Foundation
Man, this chapter has no idea how good they have it.
I'm going to buy that badge ornament from Sorority Spirit
Man, this chapter still has a lot of work to do.
Holy smokes these officers are rocking this year
First. Finest. Forever. Since 1851

I bought the ornament...
When I moved to America for college, I decided to go through sorority recruitment for one reason: My parents would be able to move me in to the dorm. Because, at the time, Southern Miss held formal recruitment two weeks prior to school starting, freshmen got to move in to their permanent rooms on campus early.

I first learned about "rush" at the summer preview session I attended to register for classes and learn about student involvement, etc. Someone with a clipboard approached me and asked Have you signed up for formal recruitment yet? "What's that?" Oh, it's how you join a sorority. "Oh. Okay. What's that?"

Had I not gone through formal recruitment, I would have said bye to my parents at the Jackson airport and moved myself to Hattiesburg a few days prior to classes. Sure, aunts, uncles or grandparents would have surely helped, but I wasn't going to let my parents miss out on the opportunity to move their first-born-who-brought-joy-and-love-into-their-lives in to the residence hall. Read: I was incredibly terrified of being left in America, it's not like mom and dad were going to be a phone call away, they were 7-8 hours ahead of me always.

Had I not moved in the residence hall permanently, I wouldn't have had anything appropriate to wear for each day of this "formal recruitment" mumbo-jumbo. I was fully prepared to roll up to my "parties" in athletic shorts and a t-shirt. Don't American teenagers wear those things, too? Thankfully my room mate was up-to-speed on the appropriate dress for each day, and taught me to powder my hair when it looked greasy and to put on more makeup as the week progressed.

When you're an ADPi you find every
reason to identify a diamond.
I wasn't ever "released" from a chapter (back before the days of the release figure method), and I felt the most comfortable at one chapter all week, despite the negative stereotypes buzzing through Jones Hall. Every day I went back to Alpha Delta Pi and on Bid Day I wasn't at all surprised to find myself signing a bid card from the Eta Zeta Chapter. I didn't really know what it meant, and was certainly not in an emotional state about it like some of the women I'd met on my floor. Peers were crushed when they didn't receive a bid from the chapter they preferred. I would have been happy either way, I imagine, but sure am happy it turned out the way it did.

I went home for one last night with my parents before they left the country, and Dad found an Alpha Delta Pi window sticker as he was rummaging through my Bid Day bag loot. He proceeded to stick it on the back window of my car much to my protest, "I'm just not sure I'll stick with this sorority thing..."

"I have a feeling you will." he said. He was right. Who would have thought I'd end up working for Alpha Delta Pi sorority as an international Leadership Consultant, and then again as a Senior Leadership Consultant? And I'm thankful every day for it.