by Susan Bonifield, International Vice President, Nu Beta (U of Mississippi)
Inspiration is a funny thing. It comes in many forms and is highly individualized. The website masterworksfineart.com claims that Pablo Piccaso was inspired by his wife who appeared in over 400 of his paintings. Many of William Shakespeare’s most famous plots were inspired by stories written by other writers, and, according to an article written by Allison McGevna, one of my favorite musicians, Alicia Keys, performed with two pianos at the 2019 Grammys after being inspired by jazz pioneer, Hazel Scott. Just like in art, literature, and music, we, too, can look to our relationships, to our peers and to the past to inspire our future. As we celebrate AOII’s 125th anniversary, it’s an especially fitting time to think about how our sisters and our history can inspire our future.
Like Picasso and Shakespeare, our relationships and our peers provide us with great examples of the types of character we want to emulate. Some are inspired by AOII’s commitment to service. Some are inspired to lead. Others are inspired to connect and help create the community we strive for. We all know those sisters who have inspired us along the way, and I am truly grateful for the all the amazing women throughout our organization who have inspired and continue to inspire me.
As I think about how our Fraternity’s past has inspired me to look toward the future, I think of the lessons I have learned over my 30 years of membership. I learned that no matter the challenge of the times, the Fraternity and our sisters can serve as a constant source of comfort and support. Whether it’s a World War or a world-wide pandemic, the women we call our sisters are a testament to resilience and healing power of friendship. I learned that what we need most from our membership in AOII is as varied as the things that inspired Picasso, Shakespeare and Keys. As I have grown throughout the various stages of my life, my connection to AOII has changed along with me. Fundamentally, AOII is capable of being what we need when we need it. Finally, I learned that our values, regardless of when they were established, are timeless. Friendship and love are simply a necessity.
So, as we enter the month where we will be gathering as sisters to learn, connect, and celebrate in a series of international events, I challenge you all to think about what inspires you. Look for that inspiration in the women you will meet and reflect on how these inspiring women might have been shaped by our past. Let the talents and passions of our sisters shine a light on how fortunate we all are to be the stewards of AOII’s future and give yourself the chance to see how you, with all your talents and passions can inspire others!