By Nicole Nystrom, Auburn '11
If I tried to write everything I learned at UIFI, it would be a novel. Perhaps even a series of novels. The whole experience was absolutely incredible, and I already wish I could go back and attend the institute again! The main idea of UIFI is that as leaders, we need to embody our organization’s values in order to inspire other people to reach their potential. At their core, sororities and fraternities were founded as values-based organizations, whose purpose was to make better leaders out of collegiate men and women. At that time, there was no mention of socials, Greek Week or dance competitions. However, as Greek life has evolved, the emphasis on ideals has been replaced by a focus on social activities. My participation in this conference taught me that we all have the potential to lead and inspire others through our example. If each member of Alpha Xi Delta was as passionate about the values chosen by our ten founders 119 years ago, then the possibilities are endless!
The whole UIFI Session 4, Iota Zeta Chapter!
Three of the lovely ladies I roomed with: Nicole, Lyndsay and Katelyn!
Nicole is a member of Delta Gamma at James Madison University, Lyndsay is a Delta Gamma at Louisiana State University and Katelyn is a Phi Mu at North Georgia College and State University.
The first thing I plan to put into action is a thorough review and analysis of our Rituals. Although the Rituals are meant to be special, the other stresses of collegiate life sometimes interfere with our ability to focus on the deeper meaning behind them. I’m also working on a Zeta Xi Chapter adaptation of the video “You’re Always Wearing Your Letters” to show to our Sisters before recruitment. I’m hoping the video will convey the true significance and responsibility that comes with wearing a sorority’s letters. I believe the video will reinforce important messages to both current members and new members.
Myself, one of my chapter facilitators, Krystal, and my friend Katie!
Krystal is a member of Tri Delta, and is the Associate Director of Greek Life at Vanderbilt University, and Katie is the current president of Sigma Delta Tau at Tulane University.
In addition to making some absolutely incredible friends, I think the people I met and the connections I made at UIFI will be invaluable in my future. As I move forward, I know I have facilitators with whom I can check back in with at any time, and they will help me if I stray from my path. One of the most valuable things I learned came from one of the other participants. In my small group called Chapters, we had a young man from Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity. He explained the significance of the mezuzah, which is attached to every doorway in a Jewish home. The reason it’s placed in the doorway is to serve as a constant reminder of their faith whenever they leave or enter the home. Our letters are like our mezuzah. Each letter was chosen for a reason, and every time we wear our letters, we should be reminded of the values of Alpha Xi Delta. This really struck me and is something I will always remember.
My group for Into the Streets!
We went to Wonderlab, a children’s museum in Bloomington, Indiana, and helped out in the garden.
We had so much fun, and actually learned a lot about gardening from the volunteer gardeners.
Nicole Nystrom was able to attend UIFI through the Dorothy Dodd Grant from the Alpha Xi Delta Foundation.
See more photos from Nicole's UIFI experience on our Facebook page!