I Never Expected to Go Greek (and yet here we are)

When I told my mom last semester that I was accepting a snap bid from Kappa Kappa Gamma, she laughed. Not out of derision or ill intent, but because it was so wholly unexpected that I would go Greek.

I came into my freshman year at Hillsdale College fully anticipating that I would graduate in four years without even rushing. I couldn’t understand why someone would want to pay a lot of money to be told what to do.

This feeling wavered when some of my friends rushed fraternities during freshman year. I saw what they had gotten out of the Greek system, even in just a few weeks.

Still, I figured, rushing a sorority was different and more involved and definitely not for me.

Then I started meeting the women.

It wasn’t until late sophomore year that I realized I wanted to go Greek–and not only Greek, but Kappa in particular.

I happened to be in a voice class with four Kappas. And as we suffered this class together (and I truly do mean suffer), we became friends. One day, as I looked around the room, it clicked for me.

Every woman on campus that I admired, looked up to, and wanted to be friends with was a Kappa.

When people ask why I joined a sorority, I say it’s because I loved the women in it. It’s a simple answer for something so much more. Being in a sorority is a choice.

Every day, I choose to love, to be patient, to show support. Every day, I choose to push myself, to be loyal, to be a sister.

Every day, I choose to be a Kappa.

Am I sharing my story now because we’re in the middle of rush week? Yes. But I also think it’s an important story to share.

I never expected to go Greek. Even my closest friends were genuinely surprised when I put on letters. In some ways, I was surprised myself.

Everyone’s path home is different. Everyone takes their own time.

Being in Kappa–or any sorority–is more than living in a pretty house or taking pictures with your big. It’s more than formals or “throw what you know.”

It’s about choosing to love your sisters and to let yourself be loved by them.

Happy Rush Week. Go Greek.

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I accidentally went into a men-only pool: Israel, Day 7

Turns out the hotel pool has separate hours for men and women.

I did not know this when I went in.

Finding this out when I tried to go again the next day explained a lot about my first visit. Embarrassing myself apparently comes naturally, no matter what country I’m in.

We spent all of yesterday exploring Jerusalem and visiting the holy sites of the city.

We started at the Mount of Olives, before making our way into the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Pools of Bethesda

My favorite part of the day was when we stopped at the Church of St. Ann. There is a tradition of singing inside the church, and the acoustics were gorgeous.

After getting lunch in the city, we had the opportunity to do some shopping downtown Jerusalem. My partner and I instead headed to the tattoo shop to interview for our stories.

Being in the field with a camera again felt really good. After working with mostly print over the last semester, it was nice to stretch the audiovisual muscles.

I had to raise my microphone to get some ambient sound

A few of our friends also got tattoos, although I won’t rat out which ones.

Days like yesterday are so busy it’s difficult to process everything we saw, much less pull meaning from it yet.

One thing that did strike me was when we were in the garden. It was full of olive trees, and our guide told us that olive trees have a unique quality where new trees can grow from old root systems. Even though trees themselves might be only a few hundred years old, their root systems might be much older.

This is representative of the church. Even though Christians are only here for a lifetime, their roots go much deeper. The church is our root system; we are merely the branches.

We are nearing the close of our trip, but I will be blogging the rest of it as well. Be sure to check back for a post about today, or follow me on twitter at @jordynpair.

Four ways to know if a mortar is coming: Israel, Day 6

There are four ways to know if a mortar is coming.

1. You hear the explosion of it being launched. If you hear that sound, run.

2. You hear the whistling of it coming in. If you hear that sound, run.

3. You hear it explode. Mortars always comes in groups. If you hear that sound, run.

4. You receive an SMS message from the IDF. They have spotted someone launching a mortar. If you hear the text, you can walk.

Today our group went to the border of the Gaza Strip. We heard from a speaker who told us what it was like to live among consistent sirens and dropping mortars. She described what it was like to have 15 seconds to find your child and the nearest shelter.

I saw a playground with a bomb shelter today. I was in a school protected from falling rockets.

Nothing else puts your own problems in perspective.

Many of the places we have visited on this trip have been of historical or spiritual significance. They have been ruins and tourist destinations. But there were no shops here, no street vendors. Just a quiet town, a few dogs, and the wind clawing at our coats.

We were supposed to visit the border earlier. We had to reschedule because they had three warnings in one day.

I like to think of journalists as the second responders. We are there behind the soldiers, the fighters, the doers. When the rockets fall, we are the ones with cameras pointed. When people run for shelter, we run after them with a notebook.

That is why visiting places like the border of the Gaza Strip is important. It tells you what kind of journalist you are. It tells you what kind of stories you can stomach.

The story of this town is not an easy one to swallow. No child should have to seek a bomb shelter every day. Not everyone can write this story.

But I’d like to try. I’d like to be that second responder.

There are four ways to know a mortar is coming. There are 15 seconds to find shelter from it.

There are a thousand ways to tell this story.

Run.

Falling in love with Jerusalem and journalism: Israel, Day 5

I didn’t write a post yesterday because I was too busy exploring Jerusalem. But I have a few minutes on the bus, so I’ll recap yesterday.

We started our day at the City of David, where we saw ruins of David’s palace. Seeing the ruins overlooking the city brought stories like David and Bathsheba to life.

We also had the opportunity to go through a (ancient) sewer system and see a temple built by Herod.

After the City of David and the temple, we went to the Western Wall, which was probably the most interesting part of our formal tour.

Where I really had the most fun, however, was after our tour ended for the day. The group was given some time to work on our stories, and a group of us headed into the city.

The story I am working on is actually a video and radio package accompanying another story, so I went out into old Jerusalem to profile a tattoo shop. This shop has been run by the same family for 700 years and specializes in pilgrimage tattoos.

My partner and I talked to the father of the man currently running the shop. Because he was unable to come into the shop, we met him outside in his car. And as I crouched outside the car with a camera and a microphone, listening to this man talk about the tradition of his family, I fell in love with journalism all over again.

Because this is what journalism does for you. It whisks you away to a country and gives you the opportunity to talk to people you normally would have never met. It lets you roam the streets with a camera and have a reason to shoot. It lets you tell stories no one else has heard.

Jerusalem may be an ancient city with ancient stories, but it is also young and vibrant and full of life. It is full of stories in a way that it seems cities in the USA are not. Walking the streets, it is easy to feel the richness of the culture.

I was already in love with journalism. Now I am also in love with Jerusalem.

For a lot of students on the Passages tour, Israel is primarily a part of their spiritual journey. They are drawn to the stories of the Bible. Although those stories make up a large part of my experience too, I am here for a different kind of story.

I am here for the man in the tattoo parlor. I am here for the woman selling scarves on the street. I am here for my own story.

But most importantly, I am here for the stories around me.

Time to write.