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Incoming Chapter President Eric Burbulla spent the fall semester abroad, studying in France where he learned perspective which he’ll carry with him as he leads the chapter next year. Eric is a junior from Detroit, Mich., with a dual major in business through Wharton (with marketing and statistics concentrations) and in materials science as part of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology through the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In this Q&A he shares more about his time abroad, his goals as chapter president, and why he wants more alumni to get involved with Phi Phi.

Why did you join AXP when you came to Penn?
I think like most people who choose to join a fraternity, I did it for the brotherhood. It is not as superficial as saying that one fraternity has a nice house or a good location on campus - for me it was entirely about the guys I would be spending my 4 years at Penn with. I can't point to one specific thing that made AXP stand out to me, but it was the ensemble of all the brother's characteristics. AXP had brothers from all different states, countries, majors and interests, yet still managed to be a cohesive group of guys who look out for each other.
Tell us about your semester abroad. What was the #1 thing you learned?
During the fall of my junior year, I studied abroad at a local university in Lyon, France. I had been studying French all my life (and at Penn) and this experience served as a sort of culmination of all those years of study. The experience was amazing because I improved my French skills, made a ton of new friends and was able to travel throughout Europe. The #1 thing I learned was perspective. Growing up in the US, I never truly appreciated the vast diversity of thinking the world has to offer. Whether it is politics, art or business, going abroad really helped me get an outsider's view on the way Americans live their lives. In turn, this helped me learn to critique, as well as appreciate, these aspects that make my culture (and my personality) what it is.

How did your AXP experience help prepare you from your time abroad?
The area where AXP helped the most was probably in social interactions. AXP is such a diverse group of brothers that I feel like being in the fraternity has helped me truly understand and acknowledge cultural as well as personal differences. This allowed me to interact with and find commonalities between pretty much anybody I meet. Whether it was my host family in France or Hungarians in Budapest, I felt like I was prepared for any situation.

How did you keep in touch with the chapter while you were away?
Keeping in touch with the chapter was extremely important for me while I was away because I needed to stay informed about any issues as I was going to be taking over as president in the Spring. With modern communication tools, this was quite easy. Sometimes it was just a simple Facebook message to check in, or other times I would use voice chat to talk to people in the chapter. Either way, I chatted regularly with other house positions such as the current president, vice-president, social chair and rush chair in order to make sure I was ready for the spring.

You will be the Phi Phi Chapter president next semester. What are your goals for this position?
The major goal for this spring, like most other springs, is recruitment. We want to make sure our rush and pledging process go as smoothly as possible and yield a great new group of AXP brothers. For me, that means organizing the work of rush chair, social chair and postulate educator to make sure everything goes without hiccups. Of course, my goal as president is also to maintain close to the alumni association. Keeping them informed of what's going on in the chapter is always important, but it is especially important now as we are just finishing the remodeling of the basement.

What is your best Phi Phi memory to date?
My favorite memory with Phi Phi so far is probably rush my sophomore year. This was my first rush as an initiated brother and it was so much fun to be on the other side of the relationship. I was able to meet so many great guys and share awesome moments with the current brothers. It's a great time of the year because second semester is just starting, so nobody has too many responsibilities on their plates. This means we can all focus on hosting extravagant events for the rushes and having a great time.

What are your plans/goals after graduation?
I wish I could tell you. I'm a student in the Management and Technology program at Penn which means I'm studying both business at Wharton and engineering. This means I have a lot of different opportunities open to me, but I still have not decided which ones I should pursue. I plan on spending the summer after my junior year as an intern to better get a handle on the different industries that are available to me. After that, who knows.

What is your favorite AXP tradition? Why?
My favorite AXP tradition has to be homecoming. It is a great time of year to meet all kinds of alums. It serves as one more opportunity to hang out with the newly graduated alums that you might not have seen for 8 months, but it is also great to meet the older alums who carry all kinds of great stories and traditions about the fraternity. It is great swapping stories with somebody from the class of 1975 and realizing how much you have in common.

In what other activities are you involved with at Penn?
I'm involved with a few other activities at Penn. I'm a campus tour guide, I'm on the club squash team and I'm VP of Consulting for the marketing club on campus. I also do some smaller activities such as being a peer advisor for engineering and a orientation leader for international students studying abroad at Penn.

Why would you encourage alumni to get involved with the active chapter?
Simply put, because we need them. Brotherhood is so much more important than just the 4 years that we spend at Penn so it is important that brothers continue to participate. For instance, I mentioned that homecoming was my favorite tradition, but if we don't have alumni participation, we lose all the great traditions we have built up over more than 100 years of history. More than just sharing stories at homecoming, we need alumni participation so that AXP will endure 100 more years. Whether it is by helping to renovate our almost 100-year-old house or pitching in to buy the house a pool table, the alumni can help ensure that even more traditions and stories will be made.