I can vaguely recall a bitter tug-of-war encounter during the first semester of my freshman year of college. Admittedly, I have buried most of these memories deep within the confines of my consciousness.
I do, however, remember walking away with a dirt-stained bloodied t-shirt, emblazoned with my Greek sorority letters boldly across my 19-year-old chest. In addition to my sullied attire, I limped away with a twisted ankle owing to an overly enthusiastic (and competitive) opponent from a rivalling sorority. She was lovely.
Of course, the tug-of-war skirmish occurred only after we had finished the “chanting” portion of the afternoon where the throngs of young women, including myself, were politely asked to “sing” our sorority tune at the top of their lungs. I am fairly resentful of the recollection of verse after verse of “Rah Rah for (insert sorority letters). Three cheers for the girls who wear the (insert sorority colors). And you can quote me when I say I am a (insert sorority) from (insert chapter)..."
Even typing these lyrics now brings about a sense of nostalgia, a bit of laughter and moreover, utter mortification.
The end of the day is where the memory ends. I don’t know if we won - or if we lost - or even if there were any winners or losers. I know I departed completely humiliated, sun burnt with a sore throat, busted ankle, and rope-burned hands.
It was that moment that I swore never to take part in a similar competition again. It was bad enough that I had broken down and actually enlisted in the whole “Greek society thing” at all. However, it was that day of all the days in my four years as a member, that had truly shown me that I had become a (drum roll please) SORORITY GIRL. I was a “sister.” Cringe.
The sorority experience wasn’t all bad. I made some lifelong friends, the parties were great and it did provide me with some group leadership experiencing that I am utilizing now as an MBA student (however, I rarely admit it around here that I was once a “sister.”)
Needless to say, it was experiences such as the tug-of-war battle that left the bad taste in my mouth. I pledged “never again” to myself back then, but this “never again” has somehow transferred into “again” and this “again” has arrived TODAY.
I now find myself sitting in class, perched next to my packed suitcase, in anticipation of my afternoon flight to Paris. I happen to be participating in the HEC MBAT (MBA Tournament) this weekend after a few long months of indecision. The MBAT “represents the largest annual gathering of international business-school students, with more than 70 nationalities represented. It brings together tomorrow's business leaders in a challenging international setting which epitomizes cooperation, fair play, friendship and social responsibility”.
Luckily, this time around, I´m relatively proud to be representing ESADE as a modest MBA candidate - as opposed to a typically blond American Sorority Girl. Cringe. Again.
This whole experience is a good lesson in that one can “never say never.” I only hope that this time I walk away with less war wounds and more pride because as I confess, chanting “Ra Ra Ra for a bunch of Greek letters I didn’t understand, flanked by a horde of other girls who had made it out of the rushing process alive and more importantly, as ‘the chosen ones’” wasn’t really the proudest of all my accomplishments.
This weekend I can actually wear the big ESADE “E” on my dorky hat with pleasure and satisfaction.
Due to my rather damaging tug-of-war incident eight years ago, the whole idea of the HEC MBAT tournament was initially less than thrilling. When around 90% of my classmates were booking flights and choosing teams, I was quite happy to be making other plans.
Time passed as well as the deadline for registration. I received a number of comments along the lines of, “you should really be going” and “you´re missing a great opportunity,” but alas, I had missed the cut-off period to enrol. I stood my ground.
Then, unexpectedly - the new class of one-year MBAs began and registration was suddenly opened again. My locked-down “final decision” was swiftly unlocked and I began wavering again - making lists of pros and cons and asking everyone around me what I should do. I must have irritated a fair number of people until my friend Aziz, the 2009 ESADE HEC MBAT Chairman, made me flip a coin. He flipped it, I called tails; Independence lost, HEC Paris won and I booked my flight to the French capital.
I guess I am taking my “once in an MBA´s lifetime opportunity”. After-all, “missing out” is not my style.
I arrive in Paris tonight. I plan catch up with a few old friends and within a day, I´ll be fully branded, head to toe, in ESADE gear - complete with wrist band, baseball cap and incredibly unflattering knee-length unisex shorts. The colours of my university and my sorority are the same, which is a nice throwback to the good old days, but I must say that representing the sorority was more of a fashion statement than this time around.
I´m on the squash team. I hear it´s like racquetball, which I hear is sort of like tennis - so I’m hoping to come out unscathed. I was also persuaded to join the football (soccer) team. Luckily, due to my backyard practice sessions with my British footballing ex-boyfriend, I am no longer actually scared of the ball. Dribbling and heading is another story.
I did not, however, join the tug-of-war team.
In the end, I´m going and there is no turning back.
I hope to win.
I hope to represent ESADE well.
And most of all, I hope they don’t make me sing.