When I joined Pi Beta Phi (Pi Phi) as a freshman in the fall of 1997 at the University of California, Irvine, I was looking for a home away from home. Little did I know that I’d be doing the same search 12 years later. Except, this time, I’m on the other side of the world in London, United Kingdom!
With over 80 Pi Phi alumnae living in the United Kingdom and countless Pi Phi collegians studying abroad, having an established international network of sisters is priceless. Although we all joined Pi Phi for different reasons and may have had different experiences as collegians and alumnae, we all share a common passion – to connect with educated women to engage in friendship, social/service outlets, networking opportunities, and leadership development.
Living as an American expatriate in another nation, on another continent is challenging. When I found out that I had to move from sunny Southern California to unpredictable London, I was nervous to leave friends, family, colleagues, groups, work, and a region that I knew so well. The idea of establishing new roots was daunting. But, I recognized that I had some tools that I had hoped would come in handy in the future.
I recalled my dark blue new member manual from the fall of 1997 with the words “Pi Phi Forever.” At the time, I didn’t fully understand that that meant. I’ve repeated these words as well as “Pi Phi for life” many times during recruitment (formerly known as rush) to encourage women to join my chapter, and in retrospect, I was using those words as marketing tools. However, after graduating and becoming an alumna advising chapters on the US west coast, I started to understand the full meaning of “Pi Phi Forever” and “Pi Phi for life.” Pi Phi is truly more than just four enhanced college years – it can enhance the rest of your adult life. And for me, it really has.
Although I’ve only been in London for a short time, I’ve already connected with many Pi Phis living in the UK. I’ve met some in person, talked to others on the phone, and exchanged countless emails. Alumnae have offered to help me as I transition into London life and are excited about re-energizing the Pi Phi London/UK Alumnae Pocket.
Creating social and networking opportunities are at the forefront of the London/UK Pi Phi Alumnae Pocket’s mission. As expats living in the UK, making connections with other Pi Phis helps us stay linked to a great organisation and support each other abroad. We are looking forward to our Pi Phi Phiesta fall event on 16th of October to mingle and network with fellow expat Pi Phi sisters.
In addition to social activities, we are supporting Pi Beta Phi literacy initiatives. Pi Phi’s partnership with First Book is a fantastic opportunity to join efforts and support providing books to homes in disadvantaged communities. One easy way to participate in supporting First Book is to regularly “click to give free books” on The Literacy Site. Every click leads to free book donations on behalf of First Book and Pi Beta Phi, so be sure to visit the site and click often!
As an international group, we are also holding a book drive to support Room To Read, an organisation that supports literacy and education in a variety of developing countries. They partner with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children’s literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, Room To Read strives to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. The books will be donated to Room To Read via Better World Books.
We are looking forward to a great networking and service events in the future. If you are a Pi Phi (collegian or alumna) living in the UK and would like to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.