Martin “Marty” Barnard got an adventure of a lifetime when he was selected to attend Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Tragos Quest to Greece. Tragos is one of the top honors a brother can receive as an undergraduate member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Marty was just one of 16 brothers from across the country to be selected for this incredible program, named after and made financially possible by Past Grand President William Tragos! From June 13 – 23, Marty got an opportunity to study the influence that Greek philosophy, governance and the arts has and continues to have in our society and in our personal values. He also learned more about Ancient Greek culture and contemplated the origins of SigEp’s values and the Balanced Man ideal.
Marty had the following to say about his Tragos experience:
“Tragos was the most meaningful journey I have had in my entire life. My Quest to Greece began way back in November, when I sat down and put my heart into the coveted Tragos application. That was the first time I dedicated several hours to self evaluation and continuous learning. I nearly fell out of my seat when I heard that I had been selected as a Tragos Scholar at our Carlson Leadership Academy in February, I just couldn’t believe they found me worthy of this honor. Finally, June arrived and I quickly learned that I was going to be surrounded by some of the most influential young leaders from across the nation.
While in Greece, we explored some of the ancient world’s most influential sites including Olympus, the ruins of Delphi, and the Acropolis in Athens. We were constantly learning something new about the environment we were in, and we used this knowledge to forge a far deeper understanding of ourselves as individuals as well as exploring the true meaning of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s values, practices used for Rituals, and the ideal of the Balanced Man. Each night at the hotel was spent rooming with a different brother, so I quickly discovered how meaningful conversations and relationships can lead to a greater impact on the future.
When asked about the most memorable aspect of my experience in Greece, I find myself thinking back to the group discussions we had. There were moments when we lost our senses of pride, ego, and status in our respective chapters; and we became more personal, more attentive of each other, and ultimately, more human. I learned how to be a more comfortable and concerned listener, to allow the whole story to be shared without interruption and put aside my own perspective on life for that moment.
How will I continue to live by my Tragos experience? Honestly, the Quest for me personally never ended in Greece. I am still reflecting on the meaning of everything that happened over there, and the continued impact those lessons have on the lives of people around me is truly remarkable. I will continue to spread my knowledge to brothers across the country, because I was just in your shoes. This Quest did not make me different than any other brother; rather, I choose to believe it gave me the insight and experience necessary to have a greater impact on the future for all of us.
My advice for anyone even considering applying: Go For It. This could be you in a year, and you honestly never know who or what you will impact if it does become shared with you. Take your time with the application, really sit down and think about WHY you are doing this. Reflect on several aspects of yourself and just have an open mind for new adventures ahead. If you want the ability to see people in a different light, and thus, become a more successful leader in the world, then you’d better start digging deep so you can take your application to the next level. For the brothers who may apply and not get selected, apply again if possible. Nothing valuable in life happens merely by chance, let you passions in life direct you and you will be successful.”
We are looking forward to what Marty can bring back to our chapter and teach us more about what he learned in Greece, but most importantly; we are excited to see how his experience in Tragos will shape Marty for his future.