The Odyssey Program

SW Reflections–with a focus on civic engagement for social change

SW Reflections–with a focus on civic engagement for social change


Service to the World projects engage students in the work of agencies, organizations, civic, non-profit, or faith communities striving to meet the social, environmental, and/or spiritual needs of our time. “Both activities that aim at alleviating present suffering and those that strive for long term social change are appropriate to this category.” (Odyssey Guide)


1.         Whom do you hope to serve through your work for social change? What will it require of you physically, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually to be prepared to serve others in this way?


2.         In civic engagement projects, sometimes we are on the frontlines of working for social change and sometimes we are part of a support team, supporting those who effecting social change. Have you been on the frontlines or in the support network?  How have you shown appreciation and respect for people in both of these roles?

3.         What sort of relationships are you having or building with: (a) your on-site supervisor; (b) other volunteers; (c) the organization’s constituents?  What do you have to learn from all three (supervisor, fellow volunteers, and constituents)?


4.         Philip Hallie writes that if we want to know whether our works are beneficial to victims of suffering, then we must see the world from the perspective of the victim, not the do-gooder. How has your civic engagement project helped you see the world from the perspective of those that suffer or are disadvantaged?


5.         Consider the social, environmental, or spiritual need on which you are focusing for this Odyssey project. Do you feel that the approaches to creating social change employed by the group with which you are working are effective ways of creating change in this area?   Why or why not?


6.         Often, a distinction is drawn between charity, which focuses on relieving the effects of injustice, and justice, which seeks an end to the causes of injustice.  Has this service project involved you more in charity or justice?  What has it taught you about both?


7.         Have any of your fundamental values, social ideals, or significant beliefs been challenged or confirmed through this experience? Have you found any of your academic course work helpful in understanding what you have observed and experienced? Anything you learned in class that you would directly challenge now that you have had this experience?


8.         (a) What skills and talents are most valuable in carrying out the social change work you are doing during this Odyssey experience?   How well do those skills mesh with the talents or limitations you have come to see in yourself through the experience?  (b) There are many social, political, environmental, or community issues on which you might work in the years ahead.   How has this experience reshaped your views on the public issues that call you to action?


10.       It has often been said that it takes only one individual to start change. Would you agree? Have you been empowered or disillusioned as an agent of change through this experience? What does it take for an individual “to make a difference”?