by Sara Wilson, Nu Beta (U of Mississippi), 2018-2019 ELC
“What is your favorite place you have visited this year?”
A question often asked by chapter members in the first few minutes of an airport-pickup ride. Favorite? Oh man. That is an impossible answer. My answer could be the familiar Southern hospitality that I felt in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, and the familiar voices of my home-state, Connecticut. Perhaps it is the great beauty of the West Coast, a place where I spent most of my first few months on the road. The California air, Arizona heat, Washington beauty. For hours I could explain my favorite things about Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the dedicated women I have met there and will never forget. I could say that I have fallen in love with the unexpected treasures that are Reno, Nevada and Springfield, Missouri. All this to say, the word favorite seems so unfair.
Each visit, each woman I have come across, each big city, small town, refreshing perspective, has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I have met women who, in their deepest hearts, find AOII to be a place that has welcomed them, when others in their life had not. A place that accepted them, challenged them, and taught them lessons. I have made friendships along the way and been tested to handle situations that I feel have prepared me for all that the world has to offer. Every single moment I have come across since being an Educational Leadership Consultant has prepared me for the journey ahead. I have grown, as an individual, to accept others for how they come, and not how society expects them to be. I have learned that it is in fact possible to live out of a suitcase and wear the same top, three thousand different ways.
Therefore, it’s hard to pick a favorite place; I would rather choose a favorite moment. This being the moment that I came across at each chapter, that I left with the feeling that at least one person felt important and loved or that a large problem had been resolved. At the end of all of this journey, the moments I am grateful for are the ones that have challenged me and pushed me to give others an opportunity to be heard and understood. At the end of each day, that is what it means to be a part of something larger than yourself.
This is a tribute to the women I met along the way, my beautiful and powerful ELC team, and our fearless leader, Kaya. May the journey not end here but rather begin.