Lauren: Blown Away by the Windy City

Hi everyone!  I hope you all are having an amazing summer, and I hope you’re ready for the fall!  I wanted to share one of my summer adventures with you because it proves that sometimes, taking a chance can really pay off!

When Sigma Kappa national headquarters announced that they were sponsoring two collegiate sisters to attend a leadership conference in Chicago, I knew that I needed to apply!  While I thought my chances were slim, I figured it was worth a shot.  I wrote an essay describing why I wanted to attend and waited with baited breathe.  Finally I heard back, and found out that I would be representing my sorority at the conference!  AHH!!!

Before I knew it, on June 3rd, I was on a flight to Chicago, excited to meet my roommate (another fellow Sigma Kappa) and all the other participants.  I was ready for an amazing adventure!

Led by the brilliant Mike Dilbeck (founder & president of the RESPONSE ABILITY Project and founder of the Every|Day Hero Campaign) and the amazing Phired Up! Team, the Be the Person 2012 Conference focused on showing participants that they have the strength to become an everyday hero.  We were challenged to inspire change in our community by finding and promoting our own, personal “cause” (mine was to stop the unrealistic portrayal of women’s bodies in the media, and show everyone that they’re beautiful and perfect, exactly the way they are!!)

This was no ordinary conference, however.  In fact, the staff didn’t even want us to call it a conference! We didn’t spend hours at a time stuck inside a conference hall or ball room, listening to PowerPoint presentations and lectures.  Instead, we got to see the city of Chicago, interact with other people and really learn about ourselves.

We didn’t just talk about making a difference, we actually, well…made a difference.   One day we wrote motivational quotes on poster boards and participated in a “kindness flash mob” on the streets of Chicago!  The reactions we received from passersby were truly touching, and it meant so much to know that we were actually helping to brighten someone’s day!  A police officer driving by in a car even said “keep up the good work ladies and gentleman!”   This really showed us that sometimes, even little things can make a huge, meaningful difference.   Another day, we “chalked” the Chicago sidewalks, writing inspiring quotes to help people get through their day!  I’ve honestly never had so much fun in my whole, entire life!

We also learned about bystander behavior, and discussed why people don’t take action when they see something bad happening.  We were inspired to find the courage in ourselves to NOT be a bystander anymore, and to have the strength to be a leader and do what’s right, even when we’re standing alone.  It was a really powerful message that definitely resonates, especially in today’s society.

All the activities and lessons really helped the participants bond, and I had the chance to make some great new friends.  One highlight of the event was meeting some fellow Terriers!  We all were able to bond over our love of BU, and it really helped me feel at home even though I was very far from Boston.  It just goes to show that the BU Connection extends far beyond the boundaries of Commonwealth Avenue!

I also had the chance to meet other collegiate members who were representing their sorority!  These girls came from college all across the country, and were really remarkable leaders.  I loved hearing their story, and learned so much by talking with them.

Though it’s almost been a month since I left the Windy City, I know that I’ll never forget the amazing experience, or the incredible people I met on my journey!  I’ve been so inspired, and I can’t wait to really go out in the world and create change!

This summer, challenge yourself to make a difference in someone’s life.  Every bit counts.