Collegiate chapters span from coast to coast of the continental United States, but our Chi Omega alumnae truly cover every continent around the world. One of the groups who really know a thing or two about fostering Sisterhood abroad are the Chi Omegas Living in Europe. This group had an unofficial beginning born out of a need for connection in new places, but has evolved into purposeful cultivation of Sisterhood across countries.
We caught up with Danielle Higginbotham, Theta Theta/South Florida, one of the Sisters who spearheads this group, to chat about how our Sisters across the pond keep the Fraternity ever at heart.
When did Chi Omegas Living in Europe begin?
To be honest, I’m not sure how it started, however, I know the group has been around since at least 2011. When I moved to England in 2014, I wanted to connect with Sisters. I found the group and saw that it wasn’t very active. Some local Sisters in London would meet up every now and then but there weren’t any large events for Sisters. That’s when I decided to try to plan the Eleusinia event for Sisters abroad.
How large is the Chi Omegas Living in Europe group?
The Facebook group has about 200 members. The numbers fluctuate due to Sisters moving and collegians who are just studying abroad for a semester. I also make sure to go onto Chi Omega Everyday and look up which Sisters are in Europe or who has a military address in Europe so they are connected as well.
What are some of the activities the group participates in?
We have a large scale Eleusina for Founders’ Day each year with a special guest speaker. One year was at Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke of Malborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill. Our guest speaker that year was Lord Simon Isaacs, the 4th Marquess of Reading, whose Great Grandmother was Stella Isaacs, the first Marchioness of Reading and recipient of Chi Omega’s national achievement award in 1948. We were lucky enough to have an Eleusinia at the House of Lords hosted by our Sister, Baroness Joanna Shields. There was another Eleusnia at the top of one of London’s skyscrapers called the Gherkin. That year our guest speaker was a Make-A-Wish recipient. He came to the event and shared his story of bravery, telling us all about his wish. We have had other events where we have gone to West End shows together, had dinner, attended Royal Ascot, or just met up for a coffee.
What is your favorite story of connection through this group?
Oh wow, that’s hard! Being part of this group has allowed me to become friends with so many Sisters I otherwise never would have connected with. One of the women who I was able to meet along the way was living in Germany. We became close friends and took a girls’ trip to Portugal. She since has moved back to the U.S., but we stay in touch and are planning to take another trip sometime soon! Another favorite story is of a Sister from my collegiate chapter living in Germany also. She and I were able to meet up and grow closer!
How has this group helped connect Sisters abroad, and how has it grown over time?
Speaking from my own experience I was able to have a group of friends almost immediately after moving to a new country. I love the connections I have formed and the friends I have made. Sisters reach out to each other for travel tips, roommate searches, travel buddies, career help, etc. Anything and everything a normal alumna chapter does, this group of women overseas does. We just are a little more spread out.
How has social media made it easier to connect with Sisters abroad?
Social media is the reason this group exists. Without it, we wouldn’t have the immediate connection we do. Next, is to create our Instagram page!
Who can get involved and how?
Sisters living in Europe can join our Facebook page: Chi Omegas Living in Europe!
How do you see this group evolving in years to come?
I hope this group continues to thrive. I’d love to see it be an official alumni group somehow. Till then we will continue to host events, connecting Sisters overseas!