The Power of Place: Home with My Sisters

As part of the Museum’s new focus on The Power of Place, we are asking members of the community to submit to us a short blurb about a place of importance in their lives – whether it’s their childhood home, their local bookstore or even a “place” in time or a place that moves around.

Today, we hear from Rachel Smith, one of the Mizel Museum’s most treasured volunteers. Rachel , who relays a beautiful story of connection with others in a place that is special to her.By Rachel Smith:

The “headquarters” of the Delta Nu chapter of the Alpha Sigma Tau (AST) sorority is located in a medium-sized brick house in the middle of the Beloit College campus. The green shutters need a good paint job and the air conditioning does little to alleviate the heat of Wisconsin summers, but the living room is cozy for watching movies or reruns of “America’s Next Top Model” with sisters, practical for weekly chapter meetings, and functions as a pretty-okay dance floor. It works pretty well for the medium-sized sorority and is the nucleus of my chapter.

There’s a saying among the women in Greek Life at Beloit that people who join sororities don’t do it to join chapters; they do it to join a group of people. And I realize that the logic of that can be applied to what made the AST house special for me, and still makes it special for me as an alum. The promise of support and unconditional love throughout my four years in college, the women who inspire(d) me to do my best as a student, a friend, a daughter, a sister and the strength that comes from cooperating with other women were the things that kept me in the chapter for seven semesters. I went through a particularly rough breakup my sophomore year, and the house and the sisters inside were a safe place for me then, as the break-up formed fissures in my friend group outside of the sorority. In better times, I spent countless hours studying, hanging out, attending sister bonding events, helping run recruitment events and participating in chapter meetings in that house. When I joined the sorority, I saw that the sophomores, juniors and seniors were the type of women that I wanted to become: funny, compassionate, outgoing, considerate, self-reliant and involved. And over time, I found that my place in the sorority had shifted, and that I was now a role model for the younger women present. But that’s not to say that they didn’t inspire me to better myself or that I didn’t admire them; I and my other older sisters were continuing the legacy of creating an environment where the younger sisters would feel like they belonged and contributed.

One of the hardest things about graduating in May 2013, was knowing that I would sever my physical ties with the AST chapter, and it was especially hard not being there this January after one of my sorority sisters was killed in a car crash. But I realized after that incident, that physical ties did not necessarily define our connection to one another. I talked to some of my AST sisters for the first time in months, or even half a year in some cases, after our sister’s death, and we gave one another love, support and reassurance. It is a bit sad that tragedy is what reconnected to me to my chapter post-graduation, but knowing that the sisters of AST will always be here for one another gives me remarkable resolve.

Thank you, Rachel, for telling us about a place of significance in your life.

To submit a place for possible publication on our blog, go to mizelmuseum.org/submit-a-place. Also, check out our upcoming programs, wherein we explore The Power of Place through many forms of artistic expression and inspiring education:

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