I Believe; these two words run through the core of what it means to be a brother of Sigma Pi; and yet they mean something different to everyone who comes through our hallowed ranks. They would change my life forever in ways I could not possibly imagine.
I stepped off the flight in St LouisMissouri in 2012 after nearly 24 hours of travel from Sydney, Australia to become a university exchange student. It was a bitter and unforgiving cold I was not prepared for. I pondered how anyone could live in such extreme and furiously cold weather, it was 38 degrees. I was picked up by some brothers and taken to their house for the night. I had never met them before, but this was, as I have now truly come to realize, the first sign of the classic mid-western friendliness coupled with genuine brotherhood. The manner in which I came to pledge Sigma Pi was anything but ordinary. I met an American girl while studying in Australia, and she put me in contact with a friend at the Sigma Pi chapter at Missouri University of Science & Technology. A few emails back and forth and I was offered a bid. I never toured the house or met the brothers, and they never met me. The risk taken by myself and the chapter was definitely a fruitful one.
Fraternities at a collegiate level are non-existent in Australia, the only image we have of Fraternities are what we see on television and movies; so as you can imagine it was quite the culture shock to actually be living in a real fraternal environment. The Hollywood interpretation of Fraternities definitely failed to emphasise that sense of belonging, philanthropy and acceptance. I can honestly say with one hundred percent certainty that all the best experiences in America have in some way indirectly or directly been as a result of my membership in Sigma Pi.
The guys gave me about a week before they started to poke fun at my accent and the way I pronounced words; I’ve accepted it as jealousy. I have since stopped trying to order Mountain Dew at restaurants in America or as they describe my pronunciation “mewntin dew”, I just stick with the safe line “I’ll have what he’s having”. That is honestly one of my favourite things about being in a Fraternity, the brotherly give-and-take; we’re allowed to joke around with each other but anyone would drop what they were doing to lend a helping hand to someone in need. That sense of developing character is instilled in the early days of a pledging program, at the Alpha-Iota Chapter, new member’s move into the house in their first semester. These are young men straight out of high school, finding their feet out on their own; and Sigma Pi gives them that protection, education and foundation to become better men. I also appreciated the focus on scholarship; I achieved the best marks of my college career in America. My Australian university only required I pass subjects while in America, but I far exceled that for the simple reason that I did not want to let my brothers down. The overall house GPA was determined through the actions of each member, a constant reminder that you are no longer alone in your academic endeavours.
If there is one thing that Alpha-Iota did exceptionally well for me it was diffuse culture. Sigma Pi not only gave me the true understanding of brotherhood, but also introduced me to a plethora of things I had not experienced before. I shared these new experiences with my brothers, they saw my enthusiastic reactions to new situations time and time again. They got to see me learn how to walk (or fall) in snow, drive on the right side of the road, have my first free refills and I was introduced to baseball; which is by far my favourite sport. They shared their slang with me, I shared my slang with them; together I learnt what it truly means to diffuse culture. I have brothers from all across the country and the lessons you learn through this are undeniable. No one has lived the same life, each person brings a unique understanding to the brotherhood, and this in essence is what it means to be part of Sigma Pi.
If there is one thing that Alpha-Iota did exceptionally well for me it was diffuse culture. Sigma Pi not only gave me the true understanding of brotherhood, but also introduced me to a plethora of things I had not experienced before.
Through Sigma Pi, I came to know my brothers better than my own family, because they were my family. I knew their strengths and weaknesses just as they knew mine. While the good times at Alpha-Iota are the times I cherish the most, it was the difficult times that build character. Whether it be internal Fraternity difficulties or external issues, these circumstances are necessary to develop a well-rounded character. The things that have stuck with me the most, have in fact been the tragedies that another fraternity on our campus experienced in the span of a few weeks. Said fraternity had one member who crashed and passed away in a drunk-driving accident after a night of drinking with his brothers, followed a few weeks later by the death of another member who fell off their balcony in a drunken mishap. Why bring these topics up? Because it put things into perspective; it showed me what could have been if I had not joined Sigma Pi. It makes me proud to know our national body has our interests in mind; it gives me pride to know that no one in my chapter would ever let someone drive drunk. Above all it emphasises the connection I have to each of my Brothers: we may not all get along and we certainly do not agree on everything but they are still my family and the devastation of losing a brother like that is not something I would ever want to experience.
I relish the memories I have had at Sigma Pi, as they have enriched my life. They gave a naïve Australian a family in a foreign country, the support and brotherhood which enabled me to experience everything I did. We had our parties, we had brotherhood events, we competed in sports together and we conducted philanthropic work. But the greatest moments that will stick with me are of true brotherhood, they are those ‘average’ moments of everyday living that become special because you shared them with your friends and brothers. These are the times that movies and television do not show, but they are memories that most of us hold dear. The values and ideals I learnt at Alpha-Iota have continued to influence my assimilation back in to life in Australia, the obligations can genuinely be applied to all aspects of our lives.
As I prepare to graduate and begin law school, being a member of Sigma Pi is a constant reminder of what it means to at all times be a Gentlemen. As our lives drift further away from college; we must not forgot the lessons we were once taught.
It is for these reasons, that I Believe in Sigma Pi.