Learning Circle

Before convening your Learning Circle, review our suggestions for how these groups can be structured. Please read through the discussion guide on this page before convening your Learning Circle, so participants know what readings to complete by the time of each discussion.

Each of our Learning Circle discussions includes two sections. The first section will help your group think about and discuss one of the reflection exercises in each unit of our Study Guide. The second section, “Destination Discussion,” is tailored to support conversation around learning materials specific to your destination.

Gather: Invite people to sit quietly for a moment and take a few centering breaths. Light the chalice, and offer opening words. Allow a few more moments of silence. Invite members into a brief personal check-in.

Part I: What potential pitfalls can be found in even such “good” impulses as sympathy, generosity, and helpfulness? (30 minutes)

Large Group Discussion

Ask participants to open their journals to their reflections on the article, “The White-Savior Industrial Complex.” Invite them to share their reactions to this material, and record the key words on a large piece of paper or white/blackboard. We suggest you do this “popcorn style,” with each person putting forth one to three words about their emotional and intellectual reactions.

After you’ve finished with this exercise, spend a few minutes in silence together. Invite participants to reflect on the feelings and thoughts that arose during the sharing, and to notice where their discomfort might lodge in their bodies.

Individual Journal Exercise

Ask two different members of the Circle to each read aloud the following excerpt from a poem. Between the two readings of the poem, ask your members to sit in reflective silence for at least a couple of minutes.

“The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love,
for your dream,
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon.
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain,
mine or your own.
without moving to hide it,
or fade it,
or fix it….

After the second reading of this poem, sit together for a few more minutes of silence. Then ask participants to write for five minutes in their journals on this question:

As you anticipate the journey ahead of you (or, if you are a non-traveler, as you imagine your fellows in their destination), what might it mean to sit with your own discomfort “without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it…” as the poet says

Work In Pairs

After five minutes of individual writing, turn to a member of your Circle and share your reflections with that person.

Part II Destination Reflections (50 minutes)

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