As an Educational Consultant working with Phi Kaps in the Midwest, Texas and Oklahoma, I spend a lot of time traveling from chapter to chapter. I’ve put an additional 6000 miles on my car since beginning these trips only two months ago! To keep myself entertained during the long hours on the road, I purchased a Spotify subscription to stay connected to my favorite music.
I created fifteen playlists just before my first trip in mid-September, each quickly put together using convenient criteria. Most are based on a single genre or style, like psychedelic rock or ambient music; others are constructed on more subjective terms, like songs that I enjoy singing along to, or songs that foster a sense of nostalgia in me. Over time, driving from one chapter to the next as the music plays, I am thinking of ways each playlist could be improved. Right now I’m thinking I may have added too many gospel 78s to my folk playlist, and that I might want to merge the drone and ambient playlists into one. I know for a fact that I’m sick of singing along to ‘Karma Chameleon,’ at least for now.
Why, then, didn’t I just come to these conclusions in the first place? I knew each song in a single playlist fit a broad definition, but I did not know how each track sounded against the tracks that preceded and followed, and how that would influence that playlist’s overall effect on the listener. I had fifteen unique experiences before me that I needed to listen to before I could understand.
Visiting Phi Kap chapters this Fall and working with them for the first time has not been unlike working with my road trip playlists, the obvious difference being that Fraternity chapters are far more complex than a list of songs. Each chapter, however, has been a unique experience for me, and understanding their individual and collective strengths, improvement areas and concerns calls for me to lend that listening ear. Every campus I have set foot on has been wildly different from the last, physically and culturally, and the chapters themselves are not without their own defining characteristics. It is vital for my effectiveness as an Educational Consultant to listen to their story, to build relationships with the chapter through open communication with one another.
I deeply appreciate the conversations I have had with the brothers during my visits as they shared with me their honest thoughts on their chapter, the Fraternity, Headquarters and beyond. I look forward to keeping in contact with each of my groups as I listen to and learn more about them, and I encourage them to reach out to me anytime with their thoughts and questions. I’ll be happy to tune in.