Every summer, the Sigma Chi International Fraternity hosts the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop, and I have been privileged to attend these workshops for the past two summers. The event lasts 3-4 days, and cost of food, attendance, and housing is funded by the Sigma Chi foundation. Each chapter is also given a travel stipend, so the weekend is of little to no cost to the individual brothers. At Balfour LTW, your working time is split into two segments: chapter planning and officer training. In the chapter planning sessions, you work with other members of your chapter, usually the executive board, and discuss the issues your chapter has been facing and determine a plan for the year to improve the chapter. For the officer training sessions, I was honored to attend as this year's incoming Consul (President) and was grouped together with other Consuls from chapters of like size. We learned and practiced leadership techniques so that we would be able to lead and help our chapter more effectively throughout our terms. Balfour LTW is an amazing experience; this year almost 2,000 undergraduate brothers and 500+ alumni members from chapters all over the United States and Canada were in attendance. The connections and bonds you build at the workshop last a lifetime, and I am so thankful to Sigma Chi for giving me such a great opportunity.
Congratulations to brother Anthony Karahalios, who has been nominated as one of three finalists for the 2017 International Balfour Award (IBA). The IBA is given to one Sigma Chi brother each year who demonstrates exemplary scholastic achievement as well as campus, community, and fraternity involvement. Anthony received his undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics & Statistics (AMS) in May 2017, graduating with a 3.99 GPA. Anthony served as president of the Johns Hopkins AMS club and was the founding president of the Actuarial Club. He served the chapter as philanthropy chairman and Quaestor. The winner of the award will be announced on August 5th at the annual Balfour Leadership Training Workshop (BLTW) closing ceremony. We are rooting for you, Anthony!
Read more on Sigma Chi's website found here!
Congratulations to brother Ian Markham who has received the Boren scholarship, which "aims to increase the number of American students studying in nations that are underrepresented in traditional study abroad programs." Ian will be spending the 2017-2018 school year in Latvia to study Russian and take culture and history courses. "I studied in Estonia last fall, and I really loved the Baltic state region and wanted to go back," he says. "Eventually I want to work for the government, either as a foreign service officer with the State Department, or dealing with human rights or security policy with the CIA or NSA. So this program was the perfect fit for me." We wish you the best of luck, Ian!
Read the full article on JHU's Hub found here!
Over the summer, I attended the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop at Ball State University (the Alma mater of David Letterman, who is a Sigma Chi) in Muncie, Indiana. It is a yearly conference held by Sigma Chi that hosts some hundred chapters, several thousand brothers, and boasts a number of workshops and networking opportunities (other fraternities hold similar such conferences). While there, I looked back on my days as a starry-eyed freshman who couldn’t wait to go to his first “frat party,” and wondered, “How did I get here?” If being in a fraternity – and going Greek in general – is about so much more than I thought it was, why did I even rush in the first place, and more importantly, why did I stay?
As a freshman, I was unsure of whether or not I wanted to join a fraternity. I certainly wanted to make friends and have fun, but I had also heard the horror stories. Still, I decided “Why not?” And as I found out when I eventually pledged as a sophomore, pledging was anything but the terrible experience it had been made out to be. I also found the friends I had made were more than friends; they were brothers, tied to me for the rest of my life. So that’s why I initially joined: life-long friends, loads of fun, and a promise I wouldn’t be elephant-walking in a dark basement any time soon.
But then, come my junior year, I found myself on the other side of the process. I found people asking me why they should give Greek Life a chance, especially if they only thought fraternities and sororities stood for partying with friends, based on movies like Neighbors. But fraternities and sororities are not stereotypes, nor are the people in them. Some people aspire to be John “Bluto” Blutarsky, others don’t even know what an “animal house” is, and often times, both are in the same fraternity. Contrary to popular belief, fraternities and sororities, on the whole, are about teaching you how to be upstanding men and women in society: courteous, intelligent, and above all else, leaders. Because fraternities and sororities are, at their heart, character-building institutions, and that is why I stayed.
At the end of the day though, joining a fraternity or sorority, whichever one you might choose, is a decision you have to make for yourself. I can assure you that there is more to Greek Life than meets the eye, but ultimately, my best advice is to go out to rush and learn what Greek Life is all about for yourself. If you find it’s not for you, no harm done, and we won’t hold it against you if you leave. But you’ll never truly know unless you give it the old college try.
Every year my mother makes Thanksgiving dinner, homemade-style. The traditionals (I use the term liberally, as I know everyone has their own preferences), are all accounted for and made lovingly by my tireless mother in the kitchen– except for the mashed potatoes. That dish was my job since I was old enough to reach over the stove, and when I heard that the brothers of the Kappa Upsilon chapter at Johns Hopkins University were having a Thanksgiving dinner, that’s the Thanksgiving staple I signed up for.
Pumpkin pie galore!
As their newly elected Sweetheart, I felt the undeniable urge to make these mashed potatoes even better than my mother’s. This of course, led me to contacting my mom and asking for her recipe. She was surprised, of course, and probably even a little embarrassed, (she’s very humble when it comes to how fantastic her food is), and actually couldn’t even tell me her recipe right away. “I’ll get back to you Saturday”, she told me after I explained my plan to buy supplies the night before the dinner. I suspect my mother had to remake the potatoes specifically for me, as she never really uses recipes for any of her incredible dishes. She just plays it by ear, or rather, by tongue.
I ended up making the mashed potatoes, gravy, and bacon mac ‘n’ cheese while all of the brothers went to meeting, but it was surprisingly a lot of fun. Katie Sacco (last year’s Sweetheart) and I cooked, snacked … a lot … and shared our funniest stories about the great group of guys we were making food for.
When dinner rolled around, the guys came in from a cold, rainy night in Baltimore and into a house smelling of cinnamon, bacon, and mac n’ cheese. Brothers showed up from all over campus with incredible dishes of their own: Jalapeno cornbread, candied pecans, and an extra-delicious turkey to name a few.
(The mashed potatoes, by the way, were to die for.)
We ate until we couldn’t even think of food; then we talked, joked, and snacked a little more as our feast disappeared. Katie reminded me, after we collectively devoured an eye-raising amount of food, that this was my first Brotherhood event. We both agreed it was an amazing dinner, and an even nicer way to get to show how thankful we were for our Sigs.
Because KY is a small chapter, I didn’t expect much out of this Thanksgiving dinner – in fact, I joked that it might even turn out like The Peanuts special I always watched with my family on Thanksgiving – but we really did have a true Thanksgiving feast. Beyond that, I finally felt like a part of the whole… fraternity thing. It finally felt like home.
Wishing you the happiest of Thanksgivings, with much love,
Rachel Jandak and the brothers of the Kappa Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Chi at Johns Hopkins University