Convention 2014

I can’t believe Convention is actually over! After five days of little sleep, constant chaos, and a whole lot of people, I can say we survived. I attended Convention in St. Louis in 2012, which was pivotal during my collegiate experience, and can honestly say that this time around was even better! This year’s theme was “Full Circle”, and for good reason. Having learned so much during my college years, this convention really brought my Alpha Gam experience full circle- I met volunteers, staff, collegians, alumnae, and members of all ages, seeing how much passion we each have for our organization. Convention is a unique opportunity to share our ritual together, celebrate our growth, and make connections with people from all over the U.S. and Canada. Working behind the scenes of the 5-day event gave me a new appreciation for the logistics and operations that come along with a large scale event with almost 700 attendees.
We got to the JW Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis on Tuesday to help set up, which was so organized with so many staff and volunteers that we functioned as a well-oiled machine, which was really cool to see. On Wednesday, I worked the check-in desk to help get the 690 women registered and answer any questions that arose. I loved getting to see all of the faces that would soon impact me over the next 5 days. Many attendees got to tour our new headquarters building and take a short tour of Indianapolis, and others got settled and mingled before the main events started. During our opening session, there was a flag processional, where each of the 193 chapters’ flags are brought out in order of establishment. Throughout the next few days, we held multiple sessions for the business meeting, where we got to see how the Parliamentary process works, recognized Distinguished Citizens and Past International Council Members, and had our keynote speaker, Erin Foley, give an empowering presentation. Erin debunked the myths that limit us from becoming our best selves, challenged us to support and empower our sisters, and be more confident and healthy in our daily lives.
Afterward, we attended the Fraternity Awards luncheon. The Awards luncheon was one of my favorites because we got to celebrate all of the accomplishments of collegiate and alumnae chapters. I was most proud that Delta Rho (my initiating chapter) won the Philanthropy award, as well as the Most Improved Financial Support and Best Financial Support to the Foundation, having raised over $72,000 over the biennium for our Foundation. I loved that Alpha Gamma Delta brought in speakers from The American Diabetes Association (mother and daughter) who directly benefit from our philanthropy through the camps for children with diabetes that we support. The chapter president from a chapter who had a house fire this year also spoke about how much support they received from grants from the Foundation during a time of need. Seeing real people who have had their lives impacted in such a positive way through The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation was inspiring, and I wish all of our members could have been there for it. (www.alphagammadelta.org/agdfoundation)
A memorial service for those who have entered Chapter Grand was held, as well as our Initiation Service, which I was honored to be a part of. During the Epsilon Pi Banquet, we recognized our volunteers who have given countless hours of work to the Fraternity and saw what it means to be a true, selfless alumna member. On Friday, we had our big break-out session day, where members were able to choose which sessions they wanted to attend that focused on particular areas of the Fraternity. There were different tracks for these workshops including Chapter Development, Recruitment, Harm Prevention, Skilled Facilitator, and more. The Leadership Consultants got to assist the facilitators and also listen to the sessions, which was extremely helpful. I can’t wait to dive more into all of these topics during training in the next few weeks. My favorite part about the break-out sessions was seeing collegians and advisors get so excited to bring new information back to their chapters, and seeing so many learning moments happen during these sessions. I got to connect with some of them after the sessions, and it was great to hear such positive feedback about the presentations that our facilitators worked so hard to prepare. Talking with these women made me more thankful that I will have the opportunity to directly interact with our membership while traveling, because I realized not everyone on staff gets that chance. It got me even more excited for this year!
Friday night, we all went to the Indianapolis Indians baseball game, which was a great time. We got to relax, eat junk food, and simply hang out in a more casual setting. All of the California members got matching t-shirts, and of course I had to jump in on their photo! After we got back to the room that night, we watched the fireworks right outside our window. That definitely had to be the best shows I have ever seen because we were at the same height as the fireworks on the 10th floor! We got up early Saturday morning for our Philanthropy walk, which raised money for The American Diabetes Association’s Camp John Warvel, which we learned about during the Foundation Luncheon. The staff members and volunteers got to be the cheerleaders, which was awesome for me. It brought me back to my summer orientation days, where I had to be the peppy jumping cheerleader early in the morning. That was one of the only times I left the building the whole convention, so I loved getting some fresh air and exercise that kept me going for the rest of the day.
Soon after the walk, we went into a general session with all 690 of us to watch MissRepresentation, an impactful documentary about women in leadership (www.missrepresentation.org or watch it on Netflix!). This was one of my favorite parts of convention- it left me inspired, empowered, and ready to take on the world even after my time as a consultant. We had our closing business meeting, then Hannah Brencher, the creator of “The World Needs More Love Letters” (www.moreloveletters.com) who has given a “Ted Talks” lecture, gave a seminar to the group. My favorite quote from this lecture was “One day someone will be sitting in the shade because of a tree you thought to plant”. This is especially relevant as a Leadership Consultant, because I know I wont always be able to directly see the fruits of my labor after leaving chapter visits, but I will still be impacting their chapter and individual members. This lecture was a great way to close out convention, and I really appreciated how engaging she was as a speaker. Our last event was Feast of Roses on Saturday evening, which everyone always looks forward to. We have a few traditions that we all love, like candle lighting chapter role, and the Living Circle sing-along. We all got to sit with our chapter members, and I loved catching up with the 4 collegians from Delta Rho who attended, as well as other Delta Rho alumnae. I had a moment while I was talking to them about applying what we learned in the break-out sessions to our chapter when I felt something click, and I realized this is what I am so passionate about and this is what I am meant to be doing. I know I will have more of those moments with chapters I visit this year, when I get so excited about sharing knowledge with them and can truly make an impact on their sorority experience. Though I know traveling this year will not be much different than the hectic, sleep deprived days of convention, I know that I wake up every day excited about learning something new. You know you’re doing what you love when you go to bed smiling and ready to do it again the next day on only three hours of sleep. After hearing the stories of Alpha Gams as new as freshmen to the alumnae that have been to over 20 Alpha Gamma Delta Conventions, I am even more ready for the rest of training and to get on the road! What an incredible experience.

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