Introducing Alison Smith, a Greek InterVarsity campus staff worker at the University of Utah. She is a frequent poster on the Greek IV blog, so get to know her here!
Eric: So Alison, what was your very first experience with Greek InterVarsity?
Alison: Awww. My first experience with Greek InterVarsity was when I was a freshman at Western Michigan University. I was involved in the ME undergraduate chapter of IV and pledged Pi Phi during the winter semester. My staff worker told me about Greek IV and he connected me with the closest Greek IV staff in our area. The Greek IV staff and my undergrad staff helped me and one of my Pi Phi sisters to start Greek IV on my campus.
E: Awesome. What do you remember about that first year starting Greek IV at Western Michigan?
A: We prayed and strategized while I was pledging but we didn't start fully trying to plant until the Fall of my sophomore year. I remember that during that summer I was really nervous and afraid but that I was confident this was God's call for me. I remember driving in my car and praying that God would help me to be brave and to step out in faith! My Pi Phi sister, Melissa, and I started a Bible study in Pi Phi that Fall. We would meet and pray together each week. She really invested in me as we led together and I am so grateful for her leadership.
I was so scared leading the first Bible study. I was nervous no one would show up or that I would do a terrible job at leading. We had about 8 sisters come to the first Bible study, several of whom we never expected to come to a Bible study. When we started the Bible study, our chapter was on probation and I remember one sister saying that she liked coming to the Bible study because it was the only sisterhood event we had at the time! I remember that during that first year and the whole time we were trying to start Greek IV, God really used that time to grow perseverance and tenacity. Things were far from easy and often I felt like Greek IV would never happen but God still called me to be faithful to his call for me.
E: How much does that experience come up in helping to cast vision for students at your current campus (Utah)?
A: It is invaluable and comes up frequently. Even though we had 8 women come to our first chapter Bible study, there were weeks that no one came. Later on, I led a Greek-wide Bible study and that was a lot harder to gain momentum for. I am able to speak from experience to students who really struggle with their ministries. And I think it's really important to dream big with my students but to encourage them that faithfulness and obedience to God doesn't automatically equal results. It's our job to plant seeds and to care for the soil. It's God's job to grow the plant and produce the fruit (like the parable of how it's a mystery how a plant grows- Mark 4:26-29).
E: What do you love most about working for Greek InterVarsity?
A: I love casting vision to Greeks about God's heart for their chapters and empowering and equipping them to lead a ministry in the chapters! I also love leading GIGs and watching non-Christian Greeks ask honest questions and grapple with Jesus.
E: When someone on the street or in the airplane asks you what you do, what's your one sentence answer?
A: HAHA ok. I say, "I direct a Christian ministry at the University of Utah- I'm like a college minister. And if my job can be anymore unique/crazy, I specialize in working with fraternity and sorority students." I usually make a joke that I have the type of job that you can't really explain in a 30 second elevator conversation.
E: Speaking of awkward conversations, trying to connect with students on a new campus can be...challenging. Any awkward moments you'd care to share?
A: YES. I had people ask me all the time which house I was in and what year of school I was in- often people think I'm still in college. Or, when I tell someone about GIV, I usually can see the confused, awkward look on their faces, like they are contemplating how to let me down gently, haha. Also, whenever I table, I inevitably get people who come up and think we are an organization that ministers to Greeks like from Greece. Or they make awkward jokes about how Jesus was Jewish and probably spoke Greek or whatever. For about a year, my mother-in-law thought I worked with students from Greece.
E: Working on a college campus means you get to have a lot of different "offices" What's your favorite place to set up shop?
A: My favorite place to set up shop is usually the InterVarsity house. InterVarsity owns a house across the street from campus and really close to Greek Row. I also really like meeting students outside when the weather is nice or going on a walk.
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