Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Two Years Come and Gone

Hello Horned Frogs!

My name is Hannah Taylor and I have been selected to talk about my Panhellenic Experience as elections are fast approaching. I am a writing major, so I apologize in advance for my lack of brevity-- just not my style. Plus, I have a lot to say about Panhellenic. When you dedicate two years of your life to something, as I have to this, it becomes a part of you, for better or for worse.

I became involved in Greek life because, like many of my fellow greek women, I wanted to find connections in a new place. I joined an organization because I felt at home there, and I have been lucky enough to find women who I have lived with, who I confide in, who encourage and support me to be the best version of myself. My grandbig and big encouraged me to apply for Panhellenic Exec, the overarching governance of Panhellenic sorority life, and I dove headfirst into the most overwhelming and incredible years of my life (so far).

(My big, twin and grandbig, all of whom are incredible women that I look up to and aspire to be more like)

My first term on Panhellenic was, in short, a time about growth and exploration of myself as a leader. For most of my life, I viewed leadership as the loudest person in the room, the one most willing to voice their ideas, the person who would stand staunchly for something and be unwavering. I am very much not that leader-- one of my Strengths is context. With this, I LOVE to gather information and perspectives, synthesize them, and create the best possible solution. Panhellenic Exec is the perfect environment for my type of leadership to thrive, simply because you are dealing with so many people who come to our community from different backgrounds and experiences. My first term as Vice President of Service and Philanthropy was about cultivating confidence in my abilities. The other exec officers really poured into me, lifted me up and encouraged me. I believe I grew more in that year than almost any other in my life because of the mentorship I received.

2016 Panhellenic Exec during recruitment. This was the last time we looked rested for a week. 

The 2016 Trek to Nicaragua we took that year will forever be a truly eye opening experience for me. It is difficult to comprehensively understand your privilege until you are confronted with it-- that is humbling, startling and empowering. The people of Jicaro No. 3 were the most present, content, and accommodating community I have had the pleasure of meeting. Their children didn't have a school that was closer than a 2 hour walking distance away, running water, or electricity, and I don't know that they would see our world as an improvement in a lot of ways. The women spent their entire lives doing selfless work, waking early to clean and cook, without complaints about the structures holding them from achieving anything past that. The trek made me a fierce advocate for women's education, as well as opening up my mind to different life perspective than my own (which is the most valuable thing a person can do in my opinion). The Panhellenic women that accompanied me were a selfless support system who constantly reminded each other that what we were doing was not about us, it was about providing the necessary resource of education to a group of people who would have otherwise been barred from access. Life changing, and probably my favorite experience in college because of how it disrupted my stability and expanded my worldview. (PS- if you are interested in an experience like this, Panhellenic will be traveling on Trek 2.0 in January of 2019, and you would be remiss if you didn't apply. Trust me on this one.)

Trek 2016. I love these women with my whole heart and seeing them brightens my day, always. 

My second term on Exec, I was honored with the privilege of being president. I am aware that it sounds like very correct speech to refer to it that way, but truly, it is a privilege to watch and lead a group of extraordinarily competent and passionate women.  The other seven exec officers are role models for me, and the type of friends that you hope to make in college. I feel, every week when we spend enormous amount of time together, that I am among people who will impact the world in such a positive way, and it is exciting. I often feel as if I don't do much, just watch the seven other exec officer and the leaders of our chapters work their tails off to improve our community.

A team for the ages, y'all. 

 I gained a lot of perspective during this term-- a balcony view so to speak. Disclaimer- I will never be the person to assert that Greek life is perfect, or unflawed, or doesn't have some serious work to do. We who decide to wear greek letters willingly take on a plethora of criticism, often criticism that is warranted. But I see the potential in the power of 3000 women uniting for a common goal, and I strive every day to help others see that as well. We have a lot of work to do, and I hope that I have chipped away at some of the more problematic things about our communities. I am unendingly thankful for the people who have put their trust in me, day in and day out, to do this job. Nothing that is worthwhile is easy, nothing that will help you grow will let you sleep soundly every night. I am happy with every two hour problem solving meeting, every hour I didn't sleep in the past year, because it is for the service of something greater. I leave this office in a few short months hoping that people will see me as a person who listened to them, encouraged them, and gave them the platform they needed to stand on. It is sad that all of this will soon be coming to an end, but it is time to put this in someone else's very capable hands.

Gal Pals who will change the world 

So, if you are reading this and thinking "dang, I want this experience," you can have it. It will not be the same, but I can assure you that getting more deeply involved in Panhellenic, your chapter, TCU, the world around you, will provide for incredible opportunities. You will inevitably learn some of the things I have.

A final picture of two of the women I look up to most in the world. Kath and Dev, you have made this what it is. 
As I leave the community in the hands of the next group of competent and passionate women, I charge you to do the following: Engage in opportunities to adopt other perspectives, remain openminded, admit when you are wrong, create environments that foster important conversations, and listen to what others are passionate about. Pour into people, and they will pour into you. It is what makes this school what it is, and you can play a dynamic part in improving this place and community that I love so much. As always, Go Greek and Go Frogs.

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