-How was this experience what you expected and what was unexpected?
-What is one thing that you learned by listening to someone from the community you visited?
-What was hard about practicing active listening? What was easy?
-What did you gain from this experience? What do you think the people you engaged with gained?
-In what way did you feel your own privilege (racial privilege, gender privilege, class privilege) affect your experience?
Help the group to think about next steps. No experience is isolated. Ideally a service project should not be an isolated interaction with a community but should be part of an ongoing relationships (for example a church could partner with another church over a series of a number of years). However, even if this was an isolated service opportunity (like an alternative spring break trip), our learning and reflection should continue long after an experience ends. Help the group think about ways that they connect this experience to their lives. If they are college students, could they take a class that would help them better understand the systems of racial injustice in our country? Maybe the next year’s leaders could be from the trip, so there is a ongoing group memory of what has happened before. Maybe the group worked with the homeless populations and so individuals from the group could spend some time researching homelessness and mental health issues. Perhaps your church youth group went and helped at a home for homeless youth. Is there a way that the youth group could spend an extended period of time (perhaps several months) engaging in discussions on why such a high percentage of homeless young people identify as GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Intersex and Queer)? Are there ways to be in service in one’s own community, whether it be a college campus or a town? What are the issues facing one’s own community?
Our research has shown that the most meaningful service projects are the ones in which long-term relationships are built. What are the ways in which your group can foster those relationships? We have found that the most, ‘helpful,’ projects are ones that take seriously issues of privilege and are working towards building authentic relationships and are working towards systemic justice. In what way is your service project engaged in working towards justice?
Games: These games are particularly helpful as reflection tools for after a service experience, but they could be adapted for use during or even before.
Web: This game offers the group an opportunity to work together but also can be used as an analogy for the ways in which we are all ‘tangled up,’ in systems of privilege and oppression. It takes us working together and building relationships to begin the process of untangling each other. This is obviously in imperfect analogy but can offer the group an opportunity to using movement and activity to engage with these concepts. The game is played this way: split the group into smaller groups of 4-6 people. Each group gets a ball of yarn or twine. Instruct the person who is holding the ball of yarn to hold the end and pass the ball to the person across from them, that person is to pass it to the person on their left and then that person passes to to the person across from them. That person passes it to the person be to their left and then that person passes it across again. Have the groups continue to unravel the ball of yarn until they are totally tangled up in the yarn. Then instruct the groups to untangle themselves without talking.
Robin: This is an affirmation game that can be used to affirm the gifts of someone from the group. When teaching this game try and emphasize that this game is an opportunity to affirm someone’s personal gifts but also an opportunity to affirm how they built community and relationships during the service experience (example, “this person was really good at listening.” “this person was very respectful in the language they used,” “this person focused on the individuals and their stories and not just on feeding them breakfast”). The game is played this way: the group chooses three people to leave the room. These three people will act as the detectives and try to figure out the identity of a mystery person. While the three people are out of the room the group leader should choose a person to be the Robin. Everyone (except for the three people out of the room) should know the identity of the Robin. The Robin should be a member of the group (not one of the three people who have left the room). The three people who have left the room should before they return come up with some leading questions that they can ask the group to figure out the identity of the Robin. The questions should be about personality traits and skills and should always be focused on affirming the Robin. The three people re-enter the room and ask the the group their questions. An example of a good question would be: “if the Robin where a color what color would they be?” an example of a good answer would be, “the Robin would be blue, because they are always calm and they listen deeply.” The group of three has two opportunities to guess the Robin.
Machine: This game offers the group an opportunity to think about how every relationship should be reciprocal and how we are all equally part of a whole. It also helps build community and an can be used a tool to reflect the gifts and skills of every person. The game is played like this: one person begins by standing and making a motion and sound. Whoever wants to go next goes in and also makes a motion and sound. The second person’s sound should be unique but they must make their motion connect to the other person. Each following person should do the same, until the group is one big machine–with different parts, moving differently and making different sounds but all working together as a whole.
Touch Blue: Touch blue is an affirmation game that helps a group of people affirm gifts of others and also affirm the benefits of relationships. The game is played like this: everyone stands and spreads out throughout the room. Ask that everyone touch the arm or shoulder of the person who matches the descriptor that you will give them. For example: The leader says, “touch someone who wears glasses,” and the group touches the shoulder of the person (or persons) who wear glasses. The leader should start by calling out descriptive features like hair color, color of a piece of clothing, etc. and then should move on to affirmative statements. For example: the leader says, “touch someone who made you smile,” “touch someone who has had good insights,” “touch someone who is a good listener.”