The room is colorful, full of paint and artwork. It smells like coffee with a hint of sweetness from the cookies and cake on a table. The room was decorated with Alpha Xi sorority banners draping across the walls. The girls spent a lot of time decorating this room to make everyone feel welcome. Everyone is mingling and talking about the events of this morning, eager to get started. Heads are bobbing this way and that. This group is very interesting and unique, while their terminology is very unusual. This group is extremely upbeat and supportive of one another. Smiles are everywhere! This is one of the best teams, even though it is not a sport, I have ever seen.
This is Mom’s Day at the Alpha Xi Delta sorority for Southeast Missouri State University. They are downtown Cape Girardeau in a room filled with tall tables covered with strips of white paper. I was allowed to observe from a side table near the front of the building, as my sister and mom begin to lose themselves in the crowd of people. Everyone was greeted enthusiastically as the couples (moms and daughters) enter the building. The room is colorful from all the paintings and all of the moms have cheerful faces that beam with pride and love for their daughters.
Everyone has on yellow identical shirts that represent the ‘team’. The shirts have the Alpha Xi symbols on them. They all look like busy bees with the yellow shirts. The tables were filled with paint supplies and their canvases (a block of wood) and the stencil they previously have chosen. The newer members are shy and do not talk as much as the veterans of this team. The veterans of this team lead the event to show their leadership in this organization. My sister is a part of this sorority, and she is one of the veterans. I can see she knows certain lingo and has a major role in how things happen in her group. Everyone is happy and laughing.
I have observed activities within this group of people multiple times, and each time I was impressed by the leadership roles the girls play into how everything functions. The newer members of this group are quieter. They just talk to some of the moms, keep to themselves, and observe what is going on and how everything works. The older members are constantly walking around to make sure everyone is having fun and making conversation with new and older members. It feels very cozy within this group. No one seems awkward or alone.
This sorority has a lot of mutual support and love for one another. It has been very active in their Autism Speaks campaign and fundraising for different events on the school campus. The Alpha Xi’s have a lot of school spirit as well, winning multiple competitions throughout the previous year. But above all, they are loyal to each other and the Alpha Xi sorority. There is a mutual understanding within this group. I hear talk about alumni and how bid week was just completed. They say how much fun they had. This sisterhood will have life-long friendships for years to come.
They use a special terminology with words that have unusual meanings I didn’t understand at first, until it was explained to me. Words like badge, bid, big, little, chapter, legacy, mom, daughter, and pledge. These words take on new meaning in this Greek sorority. For example, a big is defined as a mom to a new pledge member. The little is the pledge member. The pledge can also have a grandma and great grandma. They make a new family – not by blood, but by the relationship they have in this sorority. It seems very confusing. I hear these words continuously as I observe this Mom’s Day event. A legacy is a mom that was previously a member from the Alpha Xi sorority when they were in college. I can tell there are several legacies attending this event. You can tell everyone understands the lingo.
The moms and daughters continue to show comfort and leadership by doing activities with each other. Not only with their daughter, but collaborating with other moms and daughters in the group. They now have something in common with one another. The moms are talking to other moms, discussing where they are from, which year in college their daughter was, and what their daughter was studying at SEMO. As they talk, they began to follow the directions to paint the stencil onto their boards. They share the paint supplies with each other, constantly turn around and support one another, and compliment each other’s painted boards throughout this event. This is just one of many events throughout the year. They also have a Dad’s day with sporting activities that appeal to dads. This has been well attended in the past as well.
This community is very special; all the newest moms in this sorority are shy and do not talk as much. They just sit back and observe what is going on. They are easy to spot. The veterans talk to the new girls to see what is going on and what they think of the event. The veterans are engaging to those around them and know how to comfort the new girls and their families so they feel welcomed. I feel this is good practice to be future professionals after college.
The energy I feel is very uplifting. These girls and their families truly like each other; nothing is fake or acting. There is no drama, nothing artificial. It is all lively and I feel warmed by how much they care for each other. I can see the welcoming of everyone. Despite the difficulties this team might have, in the end everyone is there for one another. I felt the positive energy in the room. When I think back to this day, I remember how loving everyone was toward one another.
As the event comes to a close, a new transition has been made. I overhear how new friendships were made among the moms. They have a new connection with one another. They were taking lots of pictures with one another as well. They traded cell phone numbers and e-mails. It was exciting to see the new connections that were formed from this event. Everyone is sharing their painting with one another. They are hugging each other, smiling, and making future plans. The moms have moved to their own groups, and the daughters are in a different group. A few hours ago these moms were strangers, and now they are friends.
As I reflect on this day, I realized what a tight bond these girls share with one another. They genuinely seem like they love one another. It makes me yearn for acceptance like these girls have for each other. No one was left out. Everyone was accepted. Even though there were differences among the girls, they understood the unique language this sorority has with one another, and this brought their differences together. The moms made new friends, and the daughters felt like they have a new extension to their on-campus family. Bringing the two families together seemed to be comforting to girls. They were even warm to me, a boy, just watching this event take place. The Alpha Xi sorority made quite the impression on me. As the lone boy in the room, I never felt awkward and even found a smile on my face.