True Greek Leadership Is About 'Living Our Values'
Phi Sig's 2010 UIFI scholarship recipient shares experiences from conference
By Simonne Yet Kwong Horman September 20, 2010
Archon, Iota Iota Chapter at Grand Valley State University
2010 Recipient of UIFI scholarship provided by the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation
FOR ANYONE WHO IS TRULY PASSIONATE ABOUT GREEK LIFE, the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) is a place where you can network and learn how other Greek communities across North America operate. Thanks to a Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation scholarship, I was fortunate to attend the conference earlier this year – and I am happy to share some of the interesting things I learned there so sisters like me who care deeply about our sorority and the future of Greek life can also benefit!
The first day was challenging because immediately after I arrived at the gorgeous Beta Theta Pi house at Indiana University, I jumped into my first sessions about leadership and trust.
We started with a couple of team-building activities in our chapter groups (we were placed into smaller groups called “chapters” during the event), and I was thinking to myself, “How does this help me become a better leader?” But when we finished the last team-builder, which was a maze that my entire chapter had to work together to finish, it all clicked: The first step to being a great leader is teamwork. It’s really that simple.
This made me realize something about myself as a leader: I sometimes lack trust. As much as I know how important trusting and delegating is to being a great leader, this exercise helped me realize just how hard it is for me to trust. (This is probably true for a lot of young leaders! I’m grateful I’m aware of this now so I can work on refining my leadership style.)
It was an early start to day 2. We had a great discussion about values and ethics – talking not only about our organizations’ values, but also about our individual values.
At the end of the values session, we came to the conclusion that all fraternities and sororities really need to refocus on our values – and there are no “part-time values.” Day 2 really made me think about how I live Phi Sigma Sigma’s values and, as Archon, if the decisions I make are ethically aligned with them.
By the end of day 2, my head was spinning with information and ideas, and I confess I felt a bit overwhelmed (in a good way)!
The third day of the conference was my favorite – not only because it was service day, but also because it was ritual day!
In the morning, we had a short session about the difference between philanthropy and service. (Philanthropy is fund-raising, while service is hands-on support you provide to worthy causes.)
After this session, we performed community service. Some students went to soup kitchens and food pantries, but I went to the Bloomington Community Gardens, where I helped clean up the gardens and compost. This job would normally have taken the lady who worked there a month to do alone; but as a group, we did it in 3 hours.
Once we returned to the house, we started discussing RITUAL – specifically how to turn our organizations' secret ritual into our everyday, habitual ritual. We called this process “making your Big R into your little r.” The motto for ritual day was “Learn it, Live it, Teach it, Expect it.” I liked that.
Many Greeks do not live their organizations' rituals, often because they do not know them. That’s where we, as leaders, need to take the initiative, learn our Ritual (Big R) and then teach it to others so it becomes part of our daily habits (little r).
We ended the night by taking the time to recite our creeds and mottoes. It was such an awesome exercise because some people were from the same organizations but different campuses – and though they were meeting for the first time, they were able to recite their creeds together. My favorite one that evening was recited by Delta Tau Delta fraternity. It was beautiful to see 5 brothers from across the country share the bonds of their ritual with each other and the rest of us.
On the final day, things were more relaxed! We all did one-on-one consultations with our facilitators and then spent time alone focusing on the future. It was a nice change of pace, and it allowed us to think about all that we had learned that week and how we were going to take it back to our chapters and organizations (such as my plans to write this blog).
UIFI really made me understand what it means to “live my ritual.” It means to value your values: for Phi Sigs, our core values of inclusiveness, lifelong learning and leadership through service (among others). It means to have pride not only in your organization, but in yourself. It means being ethical. It means being a true sister. It means breaking down those negative Greek stereotypes and teaching others to do this, too.
This was a truly incredible, life-changing experience! I am grateful to the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation for the opportunity to attend UIFI, and I encourage all sisters to be true to our values and “live our ritual!”
The Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute is hosted by the North-American Interfraternity Conference. To learn more, visit the UIFI website.