In just five short days, I learned the true meaning of being a "values-based organization", of how to connect my fraternity's rituals to our everyday lives, and made extremely strong and lasting friendships with fellow students from across the country. This was my UIFI experience.
UIFI was built upon the reconnection of fraternities to their founding purposes, as values-based organizations. But what does this mean? It was introduced to us simply enough as, making men better men, and women better women. From there we expanded, discussing why our organizations were formed and the purposes they originally served. We were challenged to think and talk about our own values: What was important to us? What do we most value? This simple yet serious questions introduced us to that idea that knowing yourself and what you stand for is essentially important to realizing your potential as an individual and as a part of any group. Being values-based is knowing what is important to you, and acting in a way that best exemplifies these beliefs.
UIFI talked a lot about our fraternity rituals, the words and acts that connect our chapters across the nation and through the years. We were introduced to the idea that these rituals are not just for special occasions and closed doors but for every day and every where. These rituals express the values and beliefs that are important to us, and by trying to live them out not once a year but every day, we can lead more fulfilling and rewarding lives. We looked at the idea of fraternity ritual in a whole new way, as a guide to the principles on which our groups were founded and as a way to reconnect with those ideas.
I entered UIFI knowing no one; I left with countless lasting friends. Our small groups truly bonded over the few days we were there, sharing our problems and concerns and being vulnerable to one another. The leaders there were really great people, the sense of community at UIFI was extremely strong and impressive. It quickly became easy to see that the fraternity experience is so similar across the country, and that this is a bond that we all share with so many others.
I cannot recommend highly enough the experience of UIFI; every person in a Greek organization has so much to benefit from this unique experience. I enjoyed it immensely, and know that it has made me a strong leader and put me more in touch with what my fraternity truly stands for.
-Kyle Ferdinando, Pi Kappa Alpha