Friday, June 29, 2012

Going to Convention this summer? Here are some tips.

I have been a fraternity man for a little over five years now.  I was heavily involved with my fraternity chapter during my undergraduate time, and participated in many student organizations such as student government and Interfraternity Council.  I attended various leadership programs and engaged in many community service opportunities.  As a graduate, I serve as an adviser for my undergraduate chapter, house director for my fraternity at graduate school, and co-contributor for the development of a new fraternity graduate chapter.  But what is missing from this list?  Attending my fraternity’s national convention.  Throughout my entire fraternal experience, I have not had the opportunity to attend one of these educational, inspiring events.
Am I jealous?  Oh, most definitely!  However, I thought I would offer some advice to those attending undergraduate members, from an outside perspective.  Whether you are a member of Phi Delta Theta traveling to Washington D.C. or a Delta Zeta traveling to San Antonio, here are few tips that hopefully guide and inform you while at convention:

  1. Be absorbent – Soak in as much information as humanly possible!  If your brain literally aches from all of the active learning you have participated in creating or gathered, then you have successfully completed this goal.  Invigorate your mind with new ideas, remind yourself with already known information, and challenge your assumptions with different knowledge.
  2. Be practical – So you learned all of these great things about what other chapters do at their schools and want to implement them within your chapter.  Now what?  Take a step back and evaluate if any of these idea are worth exploring.  Recognize the successes and limitations of your chapter and whether such an endeavor can flourish and be sustained within your chapter’s current state.
  3. Be friendly – It can be very intimidating to see other members from your organization from across the nation, despite taking the same oaths during the same Ritual ceremony.  However, instead of leaning on fellow chapter members, or previously met members, challenge yourself to meet others.  Remove that cool cap, put on a smile, and be socially excellent (Shout out to Phired Up!).
  4. Be congruent – The values congruence talk in conference settings is as a common as a pair of Sperry’s at a Greek social.  However, until all members of the entire national fraternal community walk the congruent walk, this topic will exist.  Of all the times and places in your collegiate career, make sure your espoused values align with your enacted actions.  It is a simple request; just do it!  
Make the time spent at your national convention an enlightening, transformational, and joyous occasion.  Remember why you joined your specific organization, what that organization has provided you, and how you can continue to give back to its cause.  Have a great national convention season, everyone!

Carson Lance is a guest blogger.  He is a second-year graduate student at Bowling Green State University and summer intern at the University of Louisville.

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