Travelling can be stressful at times. At other points, it can be the time of your life. For Kappa Sigmas, there's always an interesting experience to be shared when you travel abroad. It's not unusual that you hear a Brother who went abroad and ended up bumping into another Kappa Sigma in a small town somewhere seemingly random or remote.
With over 282,000 lifetime members of the Fraternity, it's not surprising that Brothers are connected all across the globe.
This summer, many of our Brothers have been spending their off-season time in other countries from Italy to Japan and several places in between. I decided it would be fun to ask Omicron Class Brother and past Grand Master (President) Oliver Nacey and Pi Class Brother Taylor Neely what their experience was like travelling together this summer in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
Now both graduated, Taylor reflected on how a Brother's shared experience as an active member added to their time spent travelling:
"It was really cool to see how much Ollie and I think alike because of our Kappa Sigma experience. In different situations or planning out things I noticed how we had similar mindsets," Taylor reflected. "I can probably attribute that to the fact that we’ve both been apart of the brotherhood for four years and that we’ve went through many of the same experiences in that time."
Oliver mentioned how Kappa Sigma is able to afford Brothers an ability to take on any challenges that arise and have the ability to tackle them.
"It's just amazing that we can go on amazing adventures through the bonds that Kappa Sigma forms. If anything it makes the relationships tighter and I would suggest [traveling abroad with another Brother] to anyone," said Oliver.
Not too far from where Taylor and Ollie were travelling is Sydney, Australia where Upsilon Class Brother Joza Fleming was living this summer. Joza's family is from Australia and spends each summer living back home. While he likes being able to take a the few months off to better himself before returning to the new school year, he did miss being around the guys back in Ottawa.
"Every time I go away I realize how much the brotherhood and family we have here really means to me," Joza shared. "You don't realize how important something is to you until it's gone and going abroad makes me recognize the impact Kappa Sigma has had, and continues to have, on my life."
On his way back, he stopped in Los Angeles to visit alumnus Brother Martin Klemes (pictured left).
16,39 km away from Sydney, Australia is Bologna, Italy: the birthplace of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity way back in 1400. All Brothers who go through pledge education know just how important and special this city is to the Fraternity, and this summer Brother Tyler Sadlo (Tau 193) had the chance to visit.
"Going to Bologna gave me a feeling that I have trouble expressing," said Sadlo. "Being able to see first hand the place where so much history has begun is truly amazing. The energy you feel as a Brother roaming through those streets is absolutely unique."
Among the important sights in the city is the University of Bologna; the oldest university in the world where Kappa Sigma first grew its roots. But most awesome are the two Medieval towers that stand in the city centre.
"You learn about these historical landmarks throughout pledging and their importance, but many will never truly understand their importance until you're standing looking up at those two towers [...] Once you get halfway down the street you begin to see the peaks of Torre Degli Asinelli and Torre Garisendi that just gives you a chill. It is truly remarkable being able to walk through the city and being able to name and describe these important locations and attractions which even impressed many of the locals."
Another important gathering for all Kappa Sigmas alike is Leadership Conference. The Conference, hosted by the Fraternity headquarters once every two years in July, invites delegates from each of the 400+ Chapters across North America to join together to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments from individual Brothers and Chapters, while also providing participants the opportunity to attend workshops and breakout sessions aimed at developing their leadership skills. Held in New Orleans, Louisiana, it's also a fun trip for Brothers to take part in and meet people from all over with similar backgrounds and mindsets.
Mauro Barone (Upsilon 204), was the delegate who attended the 71st Grand Conclave (another large biennial conference hosted every other summer) in Las Vegas last July also represented our Chapter this year in New Orleans.
"Every time I go to one of these events and gather with over 1800 other Kappa Sigmas from across Canada and the US, it adds another layer of pride that comes with being a part of the largest college fraternity in the world," Mauro recounted.
One of the best parts of being at these conferences is having the opportunity to meet people from near and far.
"I got to meet and spend time with some awesome guys from Hawaii, Michigan, and others from Canadian Chapters like Western University [in London, Ontario] and York University [in Toronto, Ontario]."
I asked him what he liked most about traveling with other Brothers, even just for a 3-day conference.
"Imagine going to some of the most exciting and famous cities in America, where nobody knows who you are, with some of your best friends. Now, add Simon Oscar Levett [Upsilon 211]. That's a recipe for a fun time if you ask me."
An experience in a different country, even just in the United States can definitely be eye opening, but some Brothers elected to share a collective experience in Canada; not in Ottawa, but in Vancouver British Columbia. For Christian Calpito (Upsilon 206), it was his first time living away from home as a whole cohort of Brothers went to the west coast to work for the same company over the summer.
"This was my first time living away from home," said Christian. "I thought that there would be no better way to experience that but to live with brothers."
For Ben Washer (Chi 236), living together over the summer really showed just how close everyone was able to become, even though some were already very close during the school year.
"When you spend almost every minute living together, working together, eating together, and working out together, you become so accustomed to each other’s behaviours; you develop a further understanding of that person's life as an individual," said Ben. "As one brother goes through positives and negatives, every other goes through the same because you’re a unit in this dynamic."
While Vancouver has been a great host to our Brothers from Omicron-Pi, we also had the pleasure of playing host to Chi Class Brother Phil Donnelly. In September 2017, Phil arrived at Carleton on exchange from his university in Cardiff, Wales. Now almost exactly a year later, Phil is thrilled about his experience in Ottawa.
"I always knew from my first year living at university the best way to make friends is to join a team or a group," Phil recounted. "So when I got to meet a few of the brothers at Rush season, such as my future big Jake, I saw a huge opportunity to be able to get to know some awesome people."
Soon flying back across the Atlantic, I asked him what he'll take away most from being a Kappa Sigma.
"Being a Kappa Sigma has hugely tested me at times and the personal growth I have received from the organisation is incredible [...] Kappa Sigma has completely opened my eyes to how to help others, as well as teaching me to be responsible for my own actions, and how to build bonds that will last a lifetime."
Finally, I wondered what he'll miss most. It's surprising that the most memorable things he listed weren't the big, one-off events like formal or retreat that many Brothers seem to enjoy most.
"Whilst I will definitely miss simple things like chilling in Ollie's, or other Greeks such as the wonderful ladies at Alpha Pi Phi. But this question is an easy one. I will of course miss each and every one of my Brothers."
To me, returning as an Active for just one more year, I think that's what I'll be most focused on; I know that once I graduate and potentially leave our Chapter, it's going to be the guys I spend so much of my time with that I'll genuinely miss most.