Albuquerque, New Mexico
August 4th- 8th, 2015
Attending the Grand Council in Albuquerque, New Mexico would prove to be a life changing experience for me. The things that I have been able to experience as one the initial members of the newly reinstated Phi Delta Chi chapter has been amazing. From the very start, we realized that this was a national organization with a strong bond, as during our initiation many of our fraternity brothers from other chapters and even the national organization came to see us reinstated. As I progressed through the fraternity, as committee member, a committee chair and now finally, a member of the executive board, the idea that Phi Delta Chi is a national organization with strong ties between brothers had continued to grow on me. Grand Council would be my chance to meet these brothers and also learn from them, so that we could continue to improve our chapter back home. However, this trip would be my first time experiencing a lot of new things. For one thing, it would be my first time visiting New Mexico; it would also be my first time flying on an airplane and I would be traveling alone. To say I was anxious is a bit of an understatement. Nevertheless, I was very excited at the same time.
I arrived in Albuquerque at 12am midnight, my first plane trip progressed smoothly, although I was slightly disappointed that I was not able to get a window seat, I was very much ready to be off the plane. The first thing I noticed about the airport in Albuquerque was that it was very empty and nowhere near as busy compared to the airport in Charlotte. I didn’t get to see much of Albuquerque that night, but I was excited for the conference to begin and also to explore the city.
During the first day of the conference, which primarily consisted of meeting other people, the first thing I noticed was that every brother treated each other as if they were old friends. Instead of handshakes, there were a lot of hugs going around. Everyone treated each other as if they were family members. It was also surprising how many people had heard about our newly reinstated chapter, we had already developed a great reputation, something that we hope to continue to carry forward as we grow as a chapter. That night, the brothers and I from the SCCP chapter participated in trivia and also met brothers from other chapters, whom would prove to be great new friends. It was very exciting getting to meet people from pharmacy schools all over the country, and also networking with the many alumni in attendance as well. It was also exciting to see the differences between the many chapters of Phi Delta Chi, but also the differences between pharmacy schools from all over the country.
The actual programming finally began on Day 2. We went through a formal meeting of the fraternity; this provided valuable information for the officers of our chapter in regards to how to run a formal meeting and we were also introduced to the national officers of Phi Delta Chi and we also took a large scale photograph with every member of Phi Delta Chi.
For this Grand Council, I was a member of the Organizational Affairs committee, we would be pre-screening organizational decisions before deciding whether they would be proposed to the entire organization as a whole. Also on day 2, we had the first meeting of regional caucuses. Regional caucus meetings are directed by a Regional Correspondent, who presides over the Worthy Correspondents for each region. The regional caucus was great, in that we were able to finally meet face to face with the brothers in the South East region and discuss matters that specifically affected the Southeast, but we were also able to trade information with each other as well. As the Worthy Correspondent for the 2015-2016 school year, I also enjoyed meeting the other Correspondents in our region. The day finally ended with an ice cream social and a chapter showcase, where we were able to see scrapbooks and read about the many different things that different chapters have done around the country.
Thursday would be the first day of our officer training courses. Overall, there were four officer training courses, and as Worthy Correspondent for our chapter, I had the opportunity to attend the executive track. The executive track course was conducted by a member of the national officer and also an alumni brother, who was currently doing residency. During the officer training course, we were able to learn many different things, such as how to increase member involvement, successfully run officer retreats, how to conduct meetings effectively, and also how to keep our alumni involved. We were able to share information with other chapters regarding their experiences on which tactics were successful, and which tactics were not as successful. As a newer chapter, the tactics that we learned have been invaluable as we have continued to progress through the year. It was also during these officer meeting that I was able to form several connections with other brothers in Phi Delta Chi. The best part of Grand Council also came later that night, when we were able to travel up the mountain top to see the sunset over Albuquerque.
Friday consisted of more officer training courses and another regional caucus meeting. As a delegate to the Grand Council, I was also able to sit in on the review session to go over the proposals for the organization. We also had more officer training courses, committee meetings and the final regional caucus. Also on Friday, we were able to listen and speak with the candidates for national office discuss their views and the changes they planned to bring to the organization. I was also able to spend more time with my new friends from the other Phi Delta Chi chapters, while the sad realization that Saturday would be the last day of grand council loomed.
Saturday was interesting, the first part of the day consisted of a formal meeting along with a memorial service. During this time, the names of all the brothers that had passed away during the span between the previous grand council were read aloud. Seeing the emotions within the room truly cemented the brotherhood of Phi Delta Chi within my heart. I could see how much everyone cared about each other, and that these friendships are something to be cherished forever. After the memorial service, we had the final business session where we voted on policies for the organization. This would also be the first time where I would get to see Robert’s rules of order played out on a large scale with many dissenting opinions. It was a great experience to learn from and I can see the importance of why organization and rules are a necessity when debating polarizing issues. The final day of Grand Council ended with an Awards banquet, and I am excited to say that our chapter was able to win an award! Grand Council concluded on a high note!
The Last day
Sunday didn’t consist of very many activities. I spent the day exploring Albuquerque with one of the brothers that I had met from another chapter. We were able to see a lot of the traditional areas of Albuquerque and also able to buy gifts. It was somewhat depressing leaving Albuquerque, I would most definitely miss the many friends that I gained at Grand Council. But the joy of making those friends and the many different things that I learned that I will be able to use going forward and take back to make my chapter better are more than worth the transient sadness that followed. Overall, I am thankful that through the aid of the Walker Leadership scholar program, I am able to expand my horizons and also continue to grow as both a person and a pharmacist.