by Anna Flora, Rho Omicron (Middle Tennessee State U), 2018-2019 ELC
Extended family: For many of us, we think of this as being our aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents. With the holiday season upon us, we look forward to being reunited with our extended families once again, to break bread and catch up on life. Maybe we will even answer a few of those classic questions like “what are you planning on doing after graduation?” Even though our extended families sometimes drive us crazy, we are still thankful for them. I want to share a particular extended family of mine that I have become increasingly more and more thankful for on the road as an ELC—my AOII family.
As a collegian, you have your immediate AOII family, your collegiate chapter, the ones you do life with day in and day out for those four beautiful years. The wonderful women of Rho Omicron (Middle Tennessee State U) laid the foundation for me to seek out this incredible ELC experience in the first place. But as an alumna, and especially for me as an ELC, your AOII family dynamic changes as you are introduced to your extended AOII family. These are the women of the 13 collegiate chapters I have had the privilege of visiting this fall. So far, my extended AOII family has allowed me to lay down roots in Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland and Alabama. WOW!
When you travel the country for weeks on end, you have to lean on your extended AOII family. You have to open yourself up. You have to allow yourself to be real, honest and vulnerable. And in return, you need to create a space for your extended AOII family members to feel like they can do the same. You have to be a listener. Perhaps this is one of the most rewarding opportunities this job has afforded me, the privilege of lending a listening ear. When you share things with others, you give them a part of yourself. You form a connection that will last. Nothing makes my heart fill with gratitude more than receiving a text from a collegian I connected with weeks, and even months, ago. I am thankful for the opportunity to impact and be impacted by the women of my extended AOII family.
Before I conclude, I have to give a nod to a particular group of my extended AOII family. These sisters came to me from the chapters of Beta Eta, Delta Omega, Gamma Delta, Kappa Kappa, Lambda Eta, Nu Beta, Phi Sigma, and Sigma Alpha. These are my fellow ELCs and my lifelines in times of distress. They keep me laughing, smiling, and motivated on this crazy life we live as Educational Leadership Consultants for our beloved AOII.
With the holiday season in full swing, I hope you will take some time to reach out and perhaps reconnect with a member of your extended AOII family who has made a difference in your life along the way.