From An Intern's Eyes: Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (U.I.F.I.)

From An Intern's Eyes: Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (U.I.F.I.)

U.I.F.I. is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I got to experience it twice.

After a whirlwind week following my return from Indiana, I finally had the chance to sit down and reflect on my experience at Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (U.I.F.I.). In a nutshell, U.I.F.I. is an intense five-day learning experience for fraternity and sorority leaders across the nation to come together to ask those tough questions about the Greek community and share their experiences, ideas, and perspectives. But the best way that I’ve heard U.I.F.I. described is as “a much needed slap in the face with reality” because sometimes you need to take a step back to look at the big picture and confront the truth before you can move forward.

Every week throughout the summer, a new session of nearly one hundred student participants and a team of Greek life and campus professionals will descend into a sorority house at Indiana University in a flurry of overpacked bags and nervous energy. That initial momentum only builds throughout the week. We start the week as strangers but part five short days later as a supportive, close-knit community with a shared purpose. How? U.I.F.I. has the unique capability to unite people from all different places, backgrounds, and ideologies through challenge and action. U.I.F.I. leaves a big impact on participants but—more importantly—empowers students to make their own impact so they can be a part of the working solution.

U.I.F.I. is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I got to experience it twice. After attending as a participant during the summer of 2015, I returned this past week as an intern for Session 2. When I accepted the position, I faced questions from my friends and family of “You’re okay with taking an entire week off for this volunteer position?” and my answer was a confident “Yes.” I am a strong believer in the cyclical nature of service and I so very much wanted to give back to the experience that had given me the tools to success a year ago and to the institute that had challenged my perception of what Fraternity and Sorority Life could be and should be. Following my U.I.F.I., I knew that I wanted the opportunity to be a contributing part of someone else’s experience and to continue building the program and its purpose.

I got a lot of questions of what I actually did as an intern. The easy answer is that interns help with the logistical aspect of the program. We set up for different sessions and make sure the the entire day runs smoothly. We assist the lead facilitators and get to coordinate the service activities for Into the Streets. But there’s so much more than that.

As an intern, I had the honor of working with the most incredible U.I.F.I. leadership team and facilitator team. These are the people that do not get near enough credit for dedicating their careers to fighting for our Greek communities, mentoring and encouraging growth, and challenging students like me every day. The work that the facilitators do within their own campus communities or within their national organizations is truly the most inspiring thing.

As an intern, I connected with students like me from across the nation. Students with different stories that led them to U.I.F.I. Students who cared and who were there to be a part of the change that needs to happen on a local and national level. U.I.F.I. participants may all wear different Greek letters on their chests but they are united under similar values, purposes, and goals. At U.I.F.I., it doesn’t matter whether you’re a member of Alpha Alpha Alpha chapter or Beta Beta fraternity or sorority. It doesn’t matter if your chapter is the best or the biggest or the smartest on your campus. All that matters is that, at one time, you decided to pledge yourself to becoming a better version of yourself and joined a brotherhood or a sisterhood. U.I.F.I. tackles problems that the entire Greek community faces and that takes a kind of selflessness to look beyond the borders of your own organization.

As an intern, I was given the opportunity to share my own story. To draw on my own week at U.I.F.I. as a participant and how I shaped action and change on my own campus from that experience. To share the struggles and the victories that I encountered in the year following U.I.F.I. My personality is a shy and reserved one, so being honest and sharing those personal stories was a small act of courage for me. The kind words of thanks, encouragement, and support that I received after sharing my intern testimonial may have just been quick passing remarks from the people who gave them. But for me, those words were golden threads of hope after a rough semester. A small comfort and an affirmation that I was doing good. They served as a reinvigorating response to help me back on feet as I prepare for my final semester as Panhellenic president and as an undergraduate student.

As an intern, the week of U.I.F.I. was a long one. Late night conversations and phone calls were normal. Second-hand anxiety from students traveling into Indiana who had a few bumps in the road or— more accurately—a few delays at the airport. The pressure of using a rationed amount of flip chart paper throughout the week. The added stress of creating eight, 5-by-7 grids out of tape on the floor when I’m a perfectionist (the uneven lines and unequal spacing is something that still haunts me). So it was undoubtedly the little victories throughout the week that were celebrated with overwhelming enthusiasm. Things like completing an efficient store run ten minutes before Target closed or having all the buses on schedule for Into the Streets. The fact that no one was seriously injured during the Potato Head activity while going up and down a cramped stairwell and fighting for the best plastic arms or eyeballs was a victory in itself.

All kidding aside, I cannot express my thanks enough to every person who made this intern experience an incredibly rewarding one. For those considering returning to U.I.F.I. as an intern, I can not recommend it enough. But for now, go be a hero on your campus and “OYS.”

Cover Image Credit: Sapphire Andersen

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If I Had One Million Dollars

What would you do if you won a million dollars?

It's a snow day, and I'm incredibly bored and I have a daily writing prompt journal that I've been writing in today. One of the questions was "if you won a million dollars, what would you buy first?" So I decided to write a list of what I'd buy and in the order I'd buy them. This will come in handy later when I win a million dollars!

1. Pay off my debt.

I'd pay off my car, my credit card debt, and all of my school debt. Yes, I want to help others, but I need to make sure all my stuff is taken care of before I help them!

2. Pay off my parent's debt.

My parents have done so much for me in my life time so theres no question about paying off all their debt and making sure they're set.

3. Pay off my sister's debt.

I'd pay off her car and make sure I set money aside for her to finish college!

4. Buy my dream car.

That all white, 4 door, hard top, Jeep Wrangler is calling my name and I deserve it.

5. Buy my Dad his dream car/truck.

My dad has had a lot of different pick up trucks in my life time (well, 3) but he deserves the best of the best!

6. Take care of my Grandparents.

All four of my Grandparents are retired and in (or almost in) their early 80's. They have been my biggest fans my entire life, so I would absolutely make sure that I have money for them if they need it.

7. Take a Trip.

I'd pay for a super nice family trip somewhere! It'd be so fun to travel for a week or two without financial limitations!

8. Donate and give back.

I'd find a cause or charity that I really liked and donate a significant amount of money. Or I'd find a local youth sports league or high school and pay for all new equipment or uniforms or anything they needed.

9. Buy my dream house.

I'd find a house that I love, that's on the water with a big yard and I'd decorate it or fix it up! I'm not opposed to a fixer upper, just something that I love and will want to spend the rest of my life there.

10. Buy vacation properties.

I'd love to buy a small cabin somewhere on a lake in the woods. I'd also love to buy property in Wilmington, NC in the downtown area. I'd also love to buy a beach house somewhere. None of these need to be huge or luxurious, just with enough room for me and a few others!

11. Buy an RV.

Doesn't have to be expensive or big just something that I could use to travel around the United States with.

12. Make sure my friends and other family members are financially stable.

I have a few really close friends that I'd want to make sure are okay and as well as some of my family!

13. Buy the rest of my dream vehicles.

An old Ford Bronco, a two door soft top jeep, a small pick up truck. All super inexpensive just fun to drive!

14. Invest money.

Not sure where I'd invest my money. Probably just sticking with buying and renting property.

15. Concert Tickets.

I go to a lot of concerts. So I would definitely go all out with the shows.

Of course there are so many things to do when you win a million dollars but these are the first things that come to mind for me! I'll probably never have a million dollars, but its fun to dream, right?

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10 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Reduce Your Waste

Steps To A "Zero-Waste" Life

While browsing YouTube over the summer, I stumbled upon a few videos with “Zero-Waste Life” in the title. They piqued my interest and I clicked on one. Then another. And another. These videos were filmed by numerous people who live without creating any trash. They were documenting their experiences living this lifestyle. I became fascinated with the movement and I continued to learn more about it.

Quite honestly, I am not even close to living a zero waste life. However, this movement has allowed me to become more aware of how much I toss in the trash. Becoming Zero Waste doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process, but every little bit counts. Here are some small changes you can make to reduce how much you toss in the trash:

1. Know What You’re Throwing Out

I honestly had never really thought about what I was throwing out. Once I started to think twice about it, I realized how much I could reduce and reuse.

2. Buy a Reusable Water Bottle

Not only does this save so much plastic, but I also found that I am drinking more water throughout the day because the bottle I carry with me is a constant reminder.

3. Bring Your Own Bags to the Grocery Store

Keep them in your car so that you’re never stuck without them.

4. Start Using a Bamboo Toothbrush

It’s a simple switch from plastic that is so much more Eco-friendly

5. Store your Leftovers in Reusable Containers

I know it is tempting to wrap everything in Ziploc bags, but purchasing a few mason jars will seriously reduce how much you throw away.

6. Grocery Shop in Bulk

People who live zero-waste eat so much better than the rest of us. Think about it--they don’t eat anything out of a package.

7. Start Using a Stainless Steel Straw

We don’t think twice about the small piece of plastic that we drink our beverages from. It seems insignificant. However, in the US alone, 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away every. single. day.

8. Bamboo Utensils

Stop wasting plastic utensils every day and start carrying a portable set of sustainable and reusable utensils.

9. Use a shampoo bar

If you’re like me and you use up your shampoo like it’s nobody's business, consider using a shampoo bar that comes without the packaging.

10. Make your coffee at home

Or carry a reusable cup with you to the coffee shop--you’ll reduce your waste and get a discount too.

Cover Image Credit: zero.waste.nest

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