As some of you may or may not know, Delta Phi Epsilon’s International Leadership Forum (formerly known as Convention) is held every other summer to celebrate the amazing organization that is Delta Phi Epsilon. Each chapter from around the world sends two or more delegates to experience this unforgettable event, and as current President at the SNC chapter, I had the honor and privilege to be 1st Delegate for Beta Chi at ILF 2022!
When I was elected President, I did not know whether or not I would have the opportunity to attend ILF due to Covid. However, it was announced near the beginning of my term that ILF would be held in-person at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort! I had no idea what to expect when I got on the plane, but nevertheless, I was beyond excited. Looking back, ILF was truly one of the most memorable and fond experiences of my life.
The 2nd Delegate for Beta Chi (whose name I will not publicly reveal because she is currently serving on Panhellenic council) and I arrived at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort at 2am on Friday, July 22nd. It goes without saying that we were so tired! We immediately settled in and went to bed so that we would be energized for the long day ahead of us. The next morning, we woke up bright and early at 8am. The resort was beautiful, but it was so difficult to navigate! Luckily, we ran into two sisters from University of the Sciences: the lovely Maddy and Gianna. Together we were able to locate the Convention Center, where we were instantly met by a purple and gold light display and an abundance of unicorn balloons. It was a Deepher’s heaven!
Thinking traps live in our whole bodies, not just our heads. Therefore, we must address the issue with our whole bodies!“– Jessika Portney, The Journey of Self-Love & Empowerment
After picking up our name tags and a free swag bag, we sat down for a breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, and mini chocolate muffins. Immediately following breakfast, we were able to listen to our first keynote speaker, Jessika Portney, talk about the journey of self-love and empowerment. Learning how to develop a loving and compassionate relationship with my mind, body, and spirit was the perfect introduction to ILF. After that, the 2nd Delegate and I attended our first two breakout sessions of choice: The Anxious Sister in the Back Row with Rani Somers, and Leading Imperfectly: The Value of being Authentic for Leaders, Professionals, and Human Beings with James T. Robilotta. Each of these sessions were truly impactful in their own right, and gave us many resources and discussion topics to bring back to SNC.
We live in a culture in which more people are interested in being right than in what is right.“– James T. Robilotta, Leading Imperfectly: The Value of Being Authentic for Leaders, Professionals, & Human Beings
After a long morning of speakers, DPHIE fed us a delicious lunch of roast beef, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. The 2nd Delegate and I were eager to eat our first real meal since arriving in Florida! During this Celebration of Service Luncheon, we learned that DPHIE chapters around the world raised tens of thousands of dollards for our three philanthropies: the DPHIE Educational Foundation, ANAD, and CFF. At the same time, the 2nd Delegate and I were able to sit down and socialize with sisters from other chapters, which was really cool. This luncheon was the first moment on the trip that I was able to acknowledge and see for myself that DPHIE truly is larger than De Pere, WI.
It was then time for 1st Delegates to line up for a Grand Chapter meeting! As the 1st Delegate of Beta Chi, I had the privilege of carrying in our chapter’s banner and placing it in my designated seat. Being able to represent Beta Chi and speak up in a Grand Chapter meeting meant so much to me, though I must say – the International President definitely runs her chapter meetings much more formally than I run mine!
After Grand Chapter, it was finally time to explore Disney World! The 2nd Delegate and I changed into the matching Lilo & Stitch letters I had made specifically for this trip and excitedly made our way to Magic Kingdom. While we were waiting in line for the shuttle, we ran into two sisters from the Zeta Zeta chapter: Grace and Mary Kate. Just like the 2nd Delegate and I, Grace and Mary Kate were the President and Vice President of Programming for their chapter, respectively. We decided to stick together and explore Magic Kingdom as a group. We had an incredible time shopping for pins, eating alien-themed Dole Whip, and checking out all of the attractions! However, the highlight of our night was watching the fireworks and light show on the famous castle. To quote the 2nd Delegate, it was “life-changing!”
The next morning, the 2nd Delegate and I made our way to the second Grand Chapter meeting, where we continued discussing official business for DPHIE in 2022. The meeting was very long, as we needed to discuss and debate changes to the International Constitution. Despite the length of the meeting, it was such a unique experience to be able to hear the different ideas and practices that each chapter had.
After concluding official business for 2022, we ate lunch and continued the day with keynote speaker Judith Heumann, a fellow sister and disability rights activist. Heumann’s chat provided me with DEI resources to take back to my chapter, as well as fresh ideas as to how to approach recruitment and draw in members who may not seem like “traditional sorority girls.” We then attended our last two breakout sessions of ILF: Reframing the Learning Process from a DEI Lens with Nicki Rowlett, and Confidence is a Team Sport with Tina Rae Vansteenbergen Robilotta. Each of these women were engaging and powerful speakers. I was left inspired and eager to implement what I learned for the upcoming semester.
Unlearning is just as important as learning.“– Nicki Rowlett, Reframing the Learning Process from a DEI Lens
Following breakout sessions, we were given time to prepare for ritual, during which we changed into our “dress to pin” best. The purpose of the ritual was to welcome our new International President, Lisa Condon, into her role. The 2nd Delegate and I were even asked to participate in the ritual by the International Ritualist, who, it turns out, is our very own Heather Green – an alumni of SNC and Beta Chi! It was a true pleasure to get to know Heather on this trip. She has greatly supported our chapter in our fundraising efforts this past year, and even purchased for us the retired Beta Chi banner that has been used in past Grand Chapters at Convention! I am so excited to bring this piece of history back to our chapter.
Do not diminish or ‘shrink’ yourself to spare someone else’s feelings.“– Tina Rae Vansteenbergen Robilotta, Confidence is a Team Sport
After a beautiful ritual, it was time for the DIMES Award Banquet, in which the International Headquarters staff presented various awards to outstanding chapters. It was very fancy; we dressed in formal wear and enjoyed a delicious three-course meal. Before presenting the awards, IHQ had a special surprise for us: a visit from three of the most badass Disney princesses! The 2nd Delegate and I embraced our inner child as we got in line to take pictures with Mulan, Tiana, and Merida.
Finally, IHQ began handing out the awards. I watched as each award was given to large chapters from schools in Florida, California, and New York. I recognized delegates from smaller chapters start to stand up and leave, because it seemed so unlikely that smaller chapters stood any chance at being recognized. I made peace with the fact that Beta Chi likely wouldn’t win an award, when suddenly, I heard the person presenting the awards make a comment about how “she just loved when an underdog was able to make their way into the limelight.” The next thing I knew, I was accepting an award on behalf of Beta Chi for “Outstanding Overall Recruitment!” I am beyond proud of my chapter for all of our hard work. Recruitment over the last few years has been especially tough with Covid, so to be recognized must mean that we have been doing something truly special!
We ended the day with a late night swim at our resort pool, where sisters were all mingling and congratulating one another on our awards. I must have gained at least 15 Instagram followers that night, as we all promised to stay in touch. I am especially excited to begin working on an idea that I came up with that night to do just that – matching up sisters from different chapters across the United States to become pen pals!
The dreaded day had come – our last day in Florida. The 2nd Delegate and I got breakfast with Grace, Mary Kate, and a few more new friends we had made at the pool the previous night. We listened to our final keynote speaker, Aneesah Smith, who delivered a talk titled #Activism & #Allyship: #Morethanahastag. This talk provided me with an abundance of resources and wisdom that I am so excited to share with our wonderful VPEB!
After this final talk, it was time to take a group photo and say our goodbyes. ILF was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to paticipate in this special sisterhood experience. I cannot wait to begin the last semester of my presidency and implement all that ILF has taught me. I am committed to making Beta Chi the very best that it can be not only so that we will be worthy of even more awards in 2024, but also so that it can become the home away from home and safe haven for PNMs the same way that it has been for me.
Thank you for reading!
Hailey Rice aka. “Resilient Rose,” #260