AOII and Ireland’s Clover

in General News, RT&J
By Becky Ziga, Chi Lambda (U of Evansville), Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee

My grandmother, whose nickname was “Mac” did not go to college. When I made the decision to transfer to the University of Central Missouri, she was ecstatic. My new collegiate home would be just two hours away and she expressed her desire to get to know me as a young woman and to become part of my college life. During the two years at UCM, my grandparents made frequent trips to campus to watch me participate with the Marching Mules and to share the fun of my AOII activities.

After their first visit to campus, my grandmother wanted to understand what drew me to AOII and how in such a short time I could be so connected to these women. How do you explain AOII to someone having no frame of reference? Do I start with AOII’s values of personally committing to lifelong friendship, service, and learning; do I share the depth of feeling when 70 women accepted me unconditionally because they too had made the same commitment; or do I try to explain the intensity of the “ties that bind” AOII’s since 1897? Just how do you explain our AOII sisterhood?

Grandmom was a brilliant woman. She did not have the opportunity to obtain a degree; but was self-taught through reading, writing poetry, and staying in touch with the world. She did not expect to receive a single answer from me; but wanted to have a conversation about the depth of my commitment and to learn about the meaning of AOII. Her questions about AOII provided an opportunity to share my AOII experiences and love for the Fraternity. My roommate and AOII sister, Kelley, also gave her input when we would go for a visit.

Our sharing of AOII takes me back to why my grandmother’s nickname is important to know. “Mac” stands for McLemore. She was as Irish as they come; and on every St. Patrick’s Day, we would head out to the garden to plant potatoes. I grew up hearing about the meaning of the clover, Ireland’s symbol, and the petals which represent Faith, Hope, and Love. These three words set the standard on how she lived her life and treated others.

I had not put together the clover and AOII, but grandmother did. As Kelley and I were getting ready to leave from one of our visits, Grandmom gave us a small shamrock plant for our dorm room. With a hug and a quiet smile, she said, “I understand.”

You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&

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