Alpha Phi Omega is a national coed service fraternity, centered on the principles of leadership, friendship, and service. The Alpha Chi chapter here at M.I.T. consists of about 30 active men and women, and many more alumni, prospectives, and friends. We represent a variety of fields of study; we live in a variety of living groups. We have many different interests, but we are united in our desire to provide service to others.
Leadership is the effective utilization of people and resources to achieve a common goal. This is not the same as being a drill sergeant! In APO, we help you to discover both your potential and limitations -- to develop the former and lessen the latter. We teach you basic skills that are applicable in many situations. There are the serious -- working with people in the real world at your job -- and the trivial -- when you're really really hungry and all you want to do is get your friends to decide on where to go for dinner.
APO is more than just a college organization on the M.I.T. campus. We are a nation-wide organization, with chapters all across the U.S., in the Phillipines, and now a petitioning group in Canada. With over 300 active chapters in the US alone (and a couple hundred in the Phillipines as well), there is plenty of opportunity to meet people with common interests from all over the nation, and to develop contacts for your life outside M.I.T.
One of the cardinal tenets of Alpha Phi Omega is fellowship. We are not merely a service organization -- we do service with our friends because we find it more rewarding that way. We also get together outside our service projects, from small weekly dinner trips to termly semi-formal parties. From these interactions, we develop a spirit of brotherhood, which manifests in the usual Hello! in the hallway, to being there for anyone who needs us at 3AM.
APO provides service in four fields:
For the college, our chapter assists with Registration Day, runs a Book Exchange at the beginning of each term, and conducts a week-long, campus-wide charity fundraiser each term. We also usher at the President's Reception in the Fall, and the Awards Convocation in the Spring, in addition to various packet-stuffing projects for offices around campus. Another popular service is selling drop-poster paper, for use as banners in Lobby 7 and the Student Center.
APO is very active from the Cambridge/Boston community to the New England region. Our projects range from painting projects at battered women's shelters in Cambridge and spring cleaning at homeless shelters in Boston to weekend-long construction and destruction projects at nearby scout camps. Usually we have a service project within a short commute (usually by T) each week, with projects farther away occuring during the long weekends.
Brothers (and pledges!) serve the chapter by running events, both inside the chapter and the fraternity as a whole. There is a large range of opportunity to help, from organizing weekly service projects, to being chairs of various chapter skills, to serving as officers for a term. In addition to these chapter-level services are the extrachapter services. APO is internally structured into three levels of hierarchies (Sections, Regions, and National) -- all of which meet regularly, which requires quite a bit of planning and work to organize.
Finally, there is service to the nation as participating citizens. For instance, all brothers are encouraged to vote and be aware of their respective countries' political situation. But more importantly, we try to instill in ourselves a sense of "doing a good turn everyday", and make this concept permeate not only our lives, but of those around us as well.