2019 Sorority Travels

in , , by Mackenzie Elaine Wasilick, December 09, 2019

My yearly recap of sorority travels has become one of my favorite things to do! I get to reminisce on all of the outstanding opportunities I have received to see the world around me and reflect on all that I have learned in the process. Often on each of these trips I get an "ah ha" moment that reminds me just how lucky I am to be part of an organization whose mission and purpose I resonate with so strongly; and feel grateful for my co-workers who I genuinely enjoy / have built close relationships with during my time here. This year was no exception!

If you've read my 2016, 2017, or 2018 recaps, you may notice that some of these events sound familiar. The nature of our organization requires that we host events that are experiences familiar to our membership - they look forward to it and we can easily update what is needed to accommodate new strategies or trends. Our collegiate leaders have regular yearly turnover - this means that the same or slightly updated material must be taught year over year to this new audience. Our premier recruitment education training program, The Workout, is hosted every year while our celebratory meeting, National Convention, is held every two years. My department, Membership Growth, does our best to host our recruitment-specific volunteers once a year for a retreat where we not only celebrate milestones, but also conduct training, set goals for the upcoming year and often welcome new volunteers into the fold. Other visits of course include getting to work with some of the chapters I virtually support daily!

With all that said, here's the recap on my fourth year of travels with Alpha Xi Delta!

January | All Staff Retreat | Indianapolis, IN

Our staff structure is set up where about half of our employees work at our Fraternity Headquarters in Indianapolis and the other half, like myself, work remotely from our home offices across the country. We typically start off a new calendar year with an All-Staff Retreat so we can get some face-to-face time together to both get some work done and spend some quality time together! As you can see, outside of work, we got to try axe throwing!

April | OmegaFi Tech Summit | Columbus, OH

I started off my birthday month by traveling to the OmegaFi Tech Summit in Columbus, Ohio! While “tech” isn’t necessarily my speciality, I know for certain that the fraternity and sorority experience is more engaging today because of these innovative products and services!

We also celebrated hashtagWorld Autism Awareness Day by “lighting it up blue” and got to tour the new Kappa Kappa Gamma Headquarters! But even a tech conference can embrace good old pen and paper - a live note taker / artist created this masterpiece (bottom right) to help attendees visualize the experience!

May/June | The Workout | Atlanta, GA

This summer programming event is one of the most highly anticipated of the year. We get the opportunity to collaborate with other departments on staff to ensure everything from facilities to printed materials are aligned with our brand and deliver our standard quality of education. Plus, this event is the culmination of a lot of hard work in developing new resources and content related to strategic membership recruitment. It's long hours and hard work, but easily some of the most rewarding work we do!

We say this every year, but each year the leadership that attends this event gets better and better. What better testament is there for strategic recruitment than that? We tell our membership they should always be recruiting better than themselves. While this mentality can often be hard to swallow and forces us to identify areas of growth, the ability to do so makes us better people and an overall better organization. This year was no exception - I absolutely loved my small group and each attendee that I had the opportunity to interact with!

This year was incredibly special to me because I was able to announce my engagement to my fiance with all of my work and volunteer friends. Andrew and I got engaged literally the night before I got on a plane for this trip. It was an incredible surprise and incredible timing too (thanks honey!).

July | National Convention | Seattle, WA

This was my third Alpha Xi Delta National Convention and my second as a staff member for the organization. I was fortunate enough to attend my first Convention as a collegiate member in San Francisco, CA before joining staff and attending my second in Chicago, IL.

This Convention was the first that I had truly paid attention to the educational programming available. I graduated with my master's in adult education just a few months prior to this trip, so I feel that I had a heightened awareness of what others in my field were doing. I am constantly in awe of the talented, creative, and intelligent women that I am privileged to call my Sisters. Sometimes I look around and I think how the hell did they let me in here? I was totally pumped when I received news that a new program I developed was selected to be presented. This was so special to me because while I typically present recruitment-related programs, this one in particular was written on my own time on a topic I became passionate about during my master's studies: career readiness. I created this program to help Alpha Xi Deltas learn about personal branding, resume building, interview confidence, as well as social media presence when entering or re-entering the job market. Outside of this I helped write and facilitate our normal recruitment-relation education content.

In the hours we weren't working we got the chance to explore the city a little. Some thoughts on what we were able to see:
  • Space Needle - Did you even go to Seattle if you didn't get a picture of this? We didn't get the chance to really experience it, but a must-see when you're in the area.
  • Museum of Pop Culture - LOVED IT! I'm a big fan of museums in general, but this one is extremely interactive and good for all ages. Also, fantastic event space. 
  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery - I'm not a coffee drinker so I wasn't sure if this would be exciting for me, but this was SO cool! This was describe to me as a bar that incorporated Starbucks coffees and teas into alcoholic beverages. It was a massive space much like an open brewery with two smaller bars, multiple food stations, the traditional coffee service, and gift displays throughout. 
  • Pike's Place Market - Felt like this was a staple but felt a little too touristy for me. Most of the market has perishable goods that weren't really relevant for us to purchase while traveling and we visited on a Saturday afternoon so it was packed. Glad to say we saw it but probably wouldn't go again!
  • Gum Wall - Technically near the market but had to include it. This was WILD. People were having photo shoots with gum and some people ATE the gum off the walls. 
  • Pier 57 - This is where the Seattle Great Ferris Wheel is... I got to see the water and a ferry boat (shout out Grey's) and it was just a good photo op (see below). It was mostly tourist attractions and we could see the entire are in about 30 minutes. We lucked out and the weather was beautiful, so we enjoyed this time to see the views!

August | Oklahoma State University Panhellenic Recruitment | Stillwater, OK

I feel like I'm most helpful for during recruitment season when I can support hands-on - I can see the event space(s) we are working with and provide data support with more context. I began working with our chapter at Oklahoma State when I first started on staff and this was the first year I was able to be there in-person for recruitment! As usual, little sleep, but I loved being back in a town that everything revolves around the university!

December | Recruitment Territory Director Retreat | Orlando, FL

And to wrap it up, one of my favorite trips of the year! Our RTD Retreat gives our team a time to reflect on the year together, identify how we can improve, and set new goals for the upcoming season. Our organization is so lucky to have volunteers that truly enjoy the work they do and enjoy each other! 

Now I'm ready to kick off year FIVE! Crazy, right?

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