This weekend, I drove down to Pennsylvania with my sister to attend Alpha Phi Omega Region II’s Volunteer Conference.
Anyone that has known me in the past five years knows that APO was a large part of my college career. I pledged in the fall of my freshman year, and took on a ton of different responsibilities, met amazing people, learned a lot about myself, made enemies, and volunteered at unique organizations around Geneseo.
When I graduated, I was ready to leave APO for a lot of reasons. Looking back on those feelings, it’s very sad. APO brought me so many positive things, and truly effected the person I have grown to be. My closest friends are my brothers, and I developed as a leader because of the opportunities APO presented. When I saw the Volunteer Conference, a conference for alumni and advisors, I was intrigued. I took a chance, put in a proposal to present, registered, and suddenly I was on my way.
Even though the conference had a small number of attendants, it was a whirlwind of new information about the organization on a regional level, new friends, seeing old ones, and getting re-energized about why APO was at the center of my college experience.
The first night of the conference was about meeting everyone, settling in to the hotel, and of course – playing board games, what else? Hilarity ensued.
Luckily our first day was relaxing, because the second day was the exact opposite. 7 sessions, 2 tracks, 1 lunch break…phew! I was also given the opportunity to present about social media and branding – my favorite topics!
A variety of section staff, region staff, and alumni covered all the bases for participants, getting us energized and thinking about how we can be effective alumni volunteers. It made me a little sad to think about all of the brothers in my chapter that should
have been at this conference but weren’t, but also that I could have been one of those people who missed out. As I said, I was ready to say goodbye to APO after I left Geneseo. I was turned off by the politics, backstabbing, eyerolling, and apathy that was happening more and more in the chapter as I grew up. I’m happy I could let APO back into my life.
After the day-long conference sessions, we got dressed up, ate a fabulous dinner, and listened to the experience of over 40 years of combined region director experience across three past (and the current!) Region II directors.
With the conference being held just outside of Hershey, PA, we quickly headed to Chocolate World – undoubtedly the world’s sweetest smelling gift shop…that also features a short, free, and singing introduction to how chocolate is made. Think Disney World, but candy.
The last day of the conference wrapped a strategic planning session, and lots of “see you at [insert an upcoming conference here]!” Which was exciting to think about. New friends in three days? One of the pillars of APO is Friendship, after all.
In three days, I managed to re-encompass the three principals of APO. Leadership in my presentation, Friendship in the fast and close friends I was with, and Service by contributing to our household goods drive for the local Ronald McDonald House. Truly fantastic.
Take the time to look back on who you were and what was in the center of your world. It was there for a reason, and might be worth the time to bring back. You never know what type of person it can help you become.