By Nour Lotfy (Beta Omicron, Florida Southern College)
I was born and raised across the world in Cairo, Egypt. My home was there, and it was all I ever knew! Moving across the sea and to America was never on our radar until of course it was, and two months later we were here. My mom, brother and I left everything we knew behind and started our new lives in Orlando, Florida for my freshman year of high school.
Growing up in a country where Greek life didn’t exist, my only impression of what it is was movies like Legally Blonde and countless others that portrayed it as either party central or girls who all look, dress, talk and act the same. All of that was not appealing to me in any way. Coming into college, Greek life was the last thing I was thinking about; in fact, I remember clearly during my first week of freshman year, I was sitting on the floor in my friend’s room making fun of people who would pay actual money to join a Greek organization. It made no sense to me whatsoever. My school, Florida Southern College, does deferred recruitment, and still in that time my mind was not changed. As someone who is an immigrant, a woman of color and socioeconomically disadvantaged, I wasn’t going to join an organization that didn’t advocate for those like me. I thought Greek life was racist, and I knew it had a history of it!
Seeing two of my hallmates go through the recruitment process and find a home in Alpha Chi Omega was eye opening for me. I remember feeling like I might have missed out on something good when I saw girls run home on bid day. I decided to educate myself on the organizations on campus, and from the moment I was interested, something about Alpha Chi Omega specifically drew me like no other. It felt like an organization that was only going to grow me, and that it did.
I was intending on going through formal recruitment in the spring but ended up receiving an open bid from the Beta Omicron chapter in the first semester of my sophomore year and hit the ground running from there! I found my home far away from home in this house, and I found growth like no other. I have grown in more ways than I could have imagined; as a friend and a sister, I have learned and continue to learn what real, healthy love is. I am a better friend, a better daughter, a better partner and just a better person knowing what I can do to love the people around me healthily and knowing exactly what I should expect from the love I receive from others. Understanding what a healthy relationship is and what it isn’t has been one of my biggest personal takeaways from our philanthropy so far.
Three weeks after accepting my bid was elections for the executive board. I heard about the newest addition – vice president diversity, equity and inclusion – and I couldn’t help but run! I was voted onto the board, and it has been an honor to serve this sisterhood. Diving in immediately and serving on this executive board has grown me as well. I am learning the responsibility of representing more than just myself and the responsibility of advocating for everyone despite my own opinions. I have noticed the standard I now hold myself to as an Alpha Chi Omega and as a member of its executive board. There is pride in everything that I do knowing that there is an entire sisterhood backing my every move and being there to hold me accountable when I do mess up.
I recently also applied for and was selected to serve on the Membership Recruitment Task Force put together by headquarters. The task force is composed of nine women – three collegiate and the rest alumnae – and its goal is to present recommendations to make the Alpha Chi Omega recruitment process more inclusive. I am proud to be a part of an organization that acknowledges the faults of its past and works tirelessly to move Greek life forward. That position has allowed me to meet sisters of all ages from all around the country, which has been nothing but an honor! Volunteering for headquarters made it clear to me that Alpha Chi Omega is an organization worth investing in, and I cannot wait to stay involved past my collegiate experience.
The opportunities that I have had since joining, and the growth it offered me, is something I will never take for granted. I have quickly learned that this is an organization that will give you as much as you give it. It is astounding how important AXΩ is to me, having only been a sister for six months. I cannot wait for what’s to come!