By Ally Rodriguez, Xi (U of Oklahoma), International Vice President
From our founding, AOII has been grounded in unique perspectives. Many voices coming together under a common bond who had members of character and were dedicated to one another. Bound by ties of friendship, no matter our backgrounds, beliefs or perspectives, our beloved Fraternity brings us all together.
One of the things that I value most about my AOII experience is that I have had the opportunity to work with and alongside so many women with backgrounds unlike my own. Their life stories, struggles and successes, challenges and triumphs have opened my eyes to viewpoints that have broadened my perspective. I have learned about other cultures, religions, nationalities, and identities that are different from my own and I am a better person and leader because of it.
My journey with inclusion and belonging has been transformative. Witnessing the power of sisterhood unfold in diverse narratives, I’ve seen firsthand how embracing each member’s story enriches our collective tapestry. Inclusion is our cornerstone, ensuring that every member feels heard, valued, and respected. We strive not only to diversify our membership but to cultivate a culture where every sister feels a genuine sense of belonging. Together, we celebrate the uniqueness that each member adds to our collective story, empowering our fraternity to become a broader, more harmonious community.
When we are inclusive, we allow everyone to feel comfortable to be creative and bring new ideas to the table. This access to opportunity and trust creates a common purpose for the meaningful work that we do and fosters a sense of belonging and respect amongst one another.
As we close out another calendar year and reflect on all that 2023 has had to offer, I encourage you to not only celebrate this season, but to celebrate our differences. Be intentional with your actions and ask questions to others who share different beliefs, come from different backgrounds or may be different in age. Be open to learning about others and build an understanding and awareness of their traditions and things that are important to them.
How can you make one another feel included this season? You could reach out to a sister and invite them to dinner. Offer to take them to your annual alumnae holiday gathering. Send a sister a card letting them know you are thinking about them. Ask a sister how they celebrate this time of year. All of these actions, big or small, make a difference in our lives. They make us feel like we are not alone, and we have someone that makes us feel included.