SW Reflections - with
a focus on direct alleviation of suffering or social need
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 and how do
you hope to serve them? What will it require of you physically, emotionally, psychologically,
or spiritually to be prepared to serve others in this way?
2. In service projects, sometimes we are
on the frontlines of working on a social problem or alleviating suffering and
sometimes we are part of a support team, supporting those who alleviate
suffering or create 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 agency’s clients? What do you
have to learn from all three
(supervisor, fellow volunteers, and especially the clients)?
4. Physician and author Naomi Remen claims
that all too often when we set out to help
people we turn them into “a problem” or something that needs “fixing” and this
does not really serve the people at all because it diminishes them and risks
demeaning those who already feel bad about themselves and their situation
compared to us. In your service work,
have you been fixing problems and/or serving others? What have you done to build-up others rather
than make them feel their neediness and lack all the more?
5. 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 this
service experience helped you see the world from the perspective of those that
suffer or are disadvantaged?
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. Consider the ideas you brought into
this experience about what the world needs and what you have to give. Have any of your fundamental values, social
ideals, or significant beliefs (about the world or about yourself) 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. Consider the famous quotation from
Ghandi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What have you learned from this experience
about the change you wish to be? What
have you learned about being a leader
of change in your community?