Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A "Q and A" Session with Staige

Periodically, DG Anchors asks some of our most loyal members ponderous questions. Today's responses come from devoted DG Cabinet member Staige Davis Hodges, Beta Theta-Duke.

Staige proudly sporting her letters.
Q: What is your all time favorite Delta Gamma memory?
A: It is really so hard to choose one, as there are so many - some poignant, some hilarious, some incredibly moving. It could be the night I pledged, on my 20th birthday, or it could be watching my chapter receive the George Banta Award in 1992, or it could be having my CDC group at my wedding, being an active part of my alumnae chapter and seeing us set records for our dues-paid members, or taking cream roses to a special member dying of cancer in the hospital who could not make it to Founders Day. However, I will choose one I think that is something a bit out of the ordinary. As a member of the Archives Committee, I discovered we were missing images/photos of many Delta Gamma Fraternity Presidents and the first Delta Gamma to serve as NPC Chair. Most served prior to 1900. Thankfully, the Internet and are full of leads, so Maureen Hollmeyer and I began to search old obituaries and family trees. She would find the obituaries, then I would look online to sleuth out the most likely family contact within the given geographic area. I made quick friends with archives directors at various universities like Northwestern, and their assistance was invaluable, and they, too, became vested and curious in our hunt. I made a number of cold calls to great-grandchildren, many now in their 80s, and a number of times, the delight in these relatives' voices brought tears to my eyes. I had one man who screened his calls, yet as soon as he heard on his machine I was trying to find a photograph of his great-grandmother, he picked up the phone and we talked for nearly an hour. It was a bit like putting a puzzle together combined with going on an archeological dig. We were able to track down some incredible photographs of our earliest presidents and the NPC Chair, and since that time, relatives have unearthed other artifacts and mementos which they have sent to the Delta Gamma archives. It was so fulfilling being able to place these photographs in the "hall of Presidents" at Executive Offices after they had been missing for more than 100 years! 


The hall of Presidents is a favorite stop when visitors tour EO.

Q: Which DG convention has been a favorite and why?
A: The Convention that stands out so much in my mind is 1992 in Palm Desert - the legendary "earthquake" Convention. It was my third Convention and I will remember it for two distinct reasons. The first, obviously, is the 7.4 earthquake whose epicenter was only 20 miles away and literally tossed me out of bed at 5:30 am. I will never forget watching the glass ceiling tiles sway in the ballrooms. The hotel staff had to tie the gigantic ballroom chandeliers to the walls to prevent the glass from falling on all of us. It was a rock-and-roll kind of Convention, and whether we were sitting in General Session or eating a meal, we never quite knew how bad the next aftershock would be! And I remember the food was over-the-top -  so much so, that I took a photo of our final banquet anchor dessert! The other reason 1992 stands out is that I finally met Fran Stevenson, our remarkable Fraternity Historian. She and I sat for a good hour in one of the lobbies finally getting to know one another and share our passion for the history of Delta Gamma. We became immediate friends and correspondents (These were back in the "pre-email days" - remember those?). For twenty years, I have called her friend and mentor, and she has helped educate me in so many ways with our history and how our Fraternity has been shaped. Perhaps I should count meeting Fran as one of my favorite memories!

Q: If you have one piece of advice for a new member, what would that be?
A: Perhaps the best advice I could share would be to take it all in. Be a sponge and allow yourself to listen, learn and grow within the values and meaningful relationships Delta Gamma helps to foster. It is often difficult to step back and be objective while experiencing things, but if I were a new member now, I would want to know about the organization in every way, what our mission is, and about the women who came before me. How can being a member of Delta Gamma enhance my life? What skills can I learn by volunteering for a crew position or on a committee? How can I learn from my sisters and grow as a member, student, woman and human being? All of these things are available for all of our members, and it is never too early to start taking advantage of the benefits of lifetime membership! You truly get far more than you give in Delta Gamma. I wish I knew all of this 26 years ago!

Q: What is your hope for the future of Delta Gamma?
A: My hope is broad-reaching. I hope we can continue to attract women who want to share our values and continue to "Do Good" as our Founders did for us 139 years ago. I hope we can continue to adjust to the challenges technology brings on a regular basis. Things that are so "twenty-nine seconds ago" cannot leave us behind. While we are a sisterhood-based organization, we are a business. We are in the business of sisterhood, and we must continually adapt so we are ahead of the many unseen and unimagined curves that undoubtedly lie ahead of us. I want us to thrive and share the strength of Delta Gamma for generations to come!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Half the Sky"
Maternal Mortality in Somaliland

Columbus viewing of "Half the Sky"
 I joined Delta Gamma alumnae, Epsilon-Ohio State and Zeta Rho-Ohio collegians and Kappa Kappa Gamma women in Columbus, Ohio, for a viewing event of “Half the Sky.” As a nurse, I was shocked to learn that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a tradition in some parts of the world, especially in Somaliland. FGM amplifies the risk of death during pregnancy, yet women in Somaliland are still performing it on other women. It is said to be excruciatingly painful, but so far ingrained into the culture that it has become normal and profitable. Mothers who would not wish it upon themselves demand their sons marry a “circumcised” woman. I was truly inspired by Edna Adan’s story featured in “Half the Sky,” because she courageously stands up to her own culture’s tradition and uses her knowledge and license as a nurse to advocate for the good of the entire community. One in 12 women should not be dying during childbirth and the fact that the culture cannot quickly recognize this issue is truly frightening. Adan started her own University Hospital in Somaliland in order to teach women how to be proper nurses and to spread her wisdom. 

Katie Corradini, CDC
While watching “Half the Sky,” it became very clear to me that education is key to survival everywhere. Women need to be educated in order to feel empowered. We would not know the extent of these issues if it were not for the courage and strength exemplified in each woman telling her story during the documentary. Adan is truly a conduit for hope and her courage challenged me to learn more about these issues and do what I can to eradicate this practice.
By Katie Corradini, Epsilon Gamma-Virginia
Collegiate Development Consultant


Monday, October 8, 2012

No Legacy Here - More Reflections on "Half the Sky"

The Fredricksburg, Virginia, showing of "Half the Sky"

"No legacy here."  Nope, not one daughter that I can dream will one day go off to college and find support from a group of women with the same values, character and love of “Doing Good” as I did. No passing on my anchor badge, no sharing my memories of late nights filled with serious and silly conversations, and no sharing the experiences of personal growth that I gained as a part of Delta Gamma. Nope, God choose to bless me with three very active, loveable, active, thoughtful, active and independent boys – did I mention they are active? A blessing times three!

So then what is my legacy? A more fitting question may be WHO is my legacy? My three beautiful boys will always be my greatest legacy as my husband and I do our very best (on most days) to raise them to be sensitive, responsible, accountable, aware-of-the-world-around-them young men with servant hearts.

Nothing made this more evident than viewing the documentary of “Half the Sky” at an event organized by the Fredericksburg Delta Gamma alumnae association. I left feeling a mixture of inspiration and anger, while also feeling blessed for the healthcare and education that we as women have available to us in the U.S. I was almost ashamed of having all this at my disposal while women around the world don't have even the very basics as many women are still dying during childbirth. I was overcome with guilt and shame as I reflected about those who are constantly arguing about rights, rights that if explained to the women who we met in the film must seem like luxuries.

Upon returning home, I posted on Facebook to encourage my friends to view the documentary or read the book. After some interest from girlfriends, a comment appeared on my page from a college friend, Greg, who wrote, "Wait - am I supposed to be holding up the other half? Oh crap! Gotta go!" Although Greg is always making me laugh with his brilliant comebacks and humor on Facebook, this comment was more insightful than I think we both realized in the moment. This is not just documentary about women's issues; there is a telling side story of how other cultures raise their boys to be men who show either honor or dishonor to the girls and women in their family, their communities and within their cultures. 

It is my hope that Delta Gamma, as well as other sororities and fraternities, continue to support such worldwide movements as “Half the Sky” to heighten awareness of such atrocities and disparities occurring among women and children throughout the world. We also need the support from men in our lives: our husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, and friends. Then, and only then, can we continue to raise our sons to value the women around them while acting compassionately and generously to those less fortunate in our country and abroad.  Our sons will eventually raise their own children with these same values and inspire HOPE to others. It is a circle - a circle of sisterhood - that permeates both genders and generations to come. After all, when women hold up half the sky, who is holding up the other half? My boys will be.

Erika Marcus Wright
Zeta Gamma-Richmond

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reflections on "Half the Sky"

By Michelle Gattenio, Zeta Zeta-Boston

“You educate a girl and she can change the world around her.” --Cheryl WuDunn

On Monday, Oct. 1, the women of Zeta Zeta-Boston gathered with fellow Boston-area alumnae to watch part one of “Half the Sky.” Not entirely sure what the two-hour film was all about, I took my seat, surrounded by my sisters, and prepared to watch, what I can now say is one of the most inspiring films I have seen. An eerie silence rang through the auditorium for the entire two hours of part one. Everyone in that room seemed to be captivated by the stories told by amazing women who have stood with courage and poise in the face of unimaginable adversity.

The stories of Somaly Mam, Amie Kandeh, Urmi Basu and the other women who are making such enormous and meaningful impacts on the lives of those affected by the various horrors were not only eye opening but also motivational. Watching “Half the Sky” opened my eyes to problems that I was unaware still existed in today’s world. As a person who had no idea issues of sex trafficking, forced prostitution and domestic beatings were so prevalent, let alone rampant worldwide, “Half the Sky” gave me the means to educate myself on the issues and suggested ways that I as a college student in Boston could help. has a tab dedicated to ways we can help: donations, lists of organizations that need volunteers, links to companies that allow you to buy with a purpose - all very doable things. These are practical ways that harness energy into “Doing Good,” which is something I greatly admire and respect about the movement; it aims to call attention to the problems and then follows through by arming women with a means to mutually empower and uplift.

When the lights came on at 11 p.m. Monday night, they revealed a room full of women changed for the better. To quote Wicked, they were “changed for good,” each in her own way. Whether that meant hosting a viewing event for part two of the documentary on the following night, or a call to investigate further into the issues addressed, or a recommendation for a great book to read next, or a realization of a new career path, each woman in that room walked out unquestionably changed for good.

Columbus, Ohio –Delta Gamma Fraternity is proud to have partnered with the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation and the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) to coordinate viewing parties for the launch of the PBS documentary, “Half the Sky.” If you missed the original airing, you can watch it here: until October 8. For more information, click here.