The Odyssey Program

SW Reflections - with a focus on direct alleviation of suffering or social need

SW Reflections - with a focus on direct alleviation of suffering or social need


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 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?