By: Rachel Lyle, February 10th, 2017
I am a brother in a co-ed service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega. For me this fraternity is like a family. It’s place at school for me to go and feel loved and cared about. It’s a group of people I can talk about anything with, act any way with, and laugh or cry or produce any other type of emotion with and still not feel judged. It’s a group of people I can rely on and know will be there for me no matter what and in turn I will be there for them and be someone for them to rely on.
Most fraternities have family lines which work similar to families and genealogies can be traced back and usually all of the brothers are interrelated somehow by being someones aunt’s cousin’s sister’s uncle’s brother or something like that. Some Fraternities even have brother names to go along with their family lines. When you start the pledging process you get a big who is like you your parent and you are their little which is like their child, if you get two littles at once they are considered twins, if you get three they are triplets, etc. and if you get a second little the following semester they are considered siblings. APO is one of the ones that has brother names. I’m the disney family line and my brother name is Cheshire like the cat in Alice in Wonderland, and my big’s brother name was Kovu. But I digress, anyway on to the national conference that is the point of this post.
Uncertainty, nervousness, anticipation, excitement, these were the things that I was feeling when I first decided to go to the 2016 Alpha Phi Omega national convention in Pittsburgh, PA. It was so exhilarating for me because I knew that the new experience was gonna be an awesome and fun trip. I also thought a lot about what could go wrong and got nervous about how it might not be as awesome and fun as I thought it would. Then I realized that that was the point of the national convention, to provide brothers with a fun and enjoyable as well as educational experience.
I had an educational experience on this trip through seminars from the APO LEADS program provided for brothers to take if they felt so led. APO LEADS is a leadership development program in the form of five seminars, which are Launch, Explore, Achieve, Discover, and Serve, each focusing on a different aspect of student and servant leadership. The two that I chose to take during this trip were Explore and Discover. Explore is an interactive seminar based on how to resolve, manage, and respond to conflict as well as how to make ethically right decision, decisions about situations that could cause conflict or are part of a conflict. Discover is an interactive seminar based on the interaction between people of different personalities and different ways of thinking, different points of view, and how to include all types of thinkers and to use their ideas to reach chapter and individual goals.
Two of the things that I learned from these seminars stuck out to me the most and stuck with me since the trip. The first thing was conflict isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, it can be a good thing, in fact it can be helpful, especially when trying to find ways to make things work better, to get through rough patches, and to make people and relationships stronger. The second thing that I learned was that we as people may have a difference of opinion or a different point of view–that doesn’t mean we don’t want to reach the same goals and get the same things done, and we need all of those points of view and opinions to get them done and reach those goals because that way all angles of them can be cover and many different things can get done, which by stepping into someone else’s shoes can be done so that everyone can understand things from all angles of a project or goal.
My favorite part of this trip was the fact that I got to meet my brothers from other chapters not only across the country but around the world. There were two banquets that took place that week where we got to sit with and get to know brothers from other chapters. It was like being in a room full of strangers but at the same time they weren’t strangers. It felt like they were siblings that I hadn’t met yet or didn’t know I had. It was like being at a family reunion meeting extended family members that I didn’t know existed. I also had a lot of fun at the the brotherhood and celebration banquets. That was the awesome fun experience I had at the 2016 national convention of Alpha Phi Omega. This was one of the best experiences I’ve had in this fraternity because of the many memories I made and the closer bonds I formed with the brothers in my chapter and I will never ever forget my first amazing experience at an Alpha Phi Omega national convention.