By Megan Asbury (Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University)
Home used to be the place I grew up with my parents and siblings. When I turned 18, home became a small dorm at Missouri State University. At age 19, 20 and 21, home became a 52-person sorority house on Cherry Street (now tell me that isn’t the most idyllic street name for a small mansion in which I formed some of my best friendships). Then finally, at age 22, I wasn’t quite sure where to call home…I graduated college and moved back to my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. I left a few weeks later with my most essential belongings in three suitcases and geared up to spend six weeks in Indiana with 14 other women as we started training for our jobs as Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultants. After those six weeks flew by, I started my year as a traveling consultant, or what many other sorority and fraternity consultants refer to as your year of being a “road warrior.”
What they didn’t tell me about being a “road warrior” was how hard it was to feel “at home” when you are in a new place every week. My first semester traveling entailed 77 hours in an airplane, numerous hotel rooms, my Airbnb at Stanford University and the occasional mix of chapter houses. I kept expecting these fresh, new places to easily feel like home to me, like the dorm and my sorority house so effortlessly did in college and how the apartment I lived in with my consultant sisters for six weeks did. What I thankfully learned within my first four months of travel was that home was less about the physical places, and more about the community you find in them.
When I look back on my first semester of travels, I can now easily pinpoint exact moments when a community of real, strong women reached out their hands in kindness and gave me feelings of home. On my very first visit with Kappa Chi (Florida Gulf Coast University), it was eating Pub Subs on Sanibel Island (a place that my family and I vacationed at only a few years prior) with the chapter president, Katie Whitlow, and one of my consultant sisters, Alex Pear (Alpha Kappa, University of Oregon). At Iota Lambda (Texas Christian University), it was the Whataburger Coca-Cola deliveries that the recruitment advisor would so graciously surprise me with during long recruitment days, just like my best friend in college used to do. At Epsilon Theta (California State University, Sacramento), it was the sister who drew a lyre on my Starbucks cup after seeing my Alpha Chi Omega nametag. I could name moments from every chapter I had the opportunity to visit, but some of my best feelings of home on the road have been the simplest, like how every time I step through the doors of Epsilon (University of Southern California), I am greeted with the most genuine smiles and best of hugs.
When I started this job, I had this constant worry that maybe I’d always be missing or thinking about the old places I called home, but instead I found a new appreciation of how any place can feel like home when you’re around women who share a bond as strong as Alpha Chi Omega. It is this large and constantly growing community of real, strong women that I will continue to think about long after my time as a consultant is over – the ones who taught me a new definition of home.