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: How do we think about connecting across cultures on our journey? how do we want to show up? (30 minutes)
Invite members of your Circle to get out their journals. Whether or not you are one of the members of the group who will be traveling with the College of Social Justice, do your best to imagine the journey ahead. As you imagine yourself in the location of the journey, briefly enter in your journal your responses to these questions:
- In the context of this pending journey as you imagine it will unfold, list out some of the ways you expect to be out of your “comfort zone” (e.g. differences in language, religion, climate….). What do you think might make you uncomfortable as you’re exposed to these differences? What helps you cope gracefully with discomfort?
- What do you most hope to receive from the people you meet on this journey? What do you most hope to leave them with as they remember your visit once you’ve gone home?
Large Group Discussion
Once you have all reflected individually in your journals, spend some time as a group sharing the answers you’ve written and the ideas provoked by projecting yourselves forward into the trip.
Ask a member of the group to read the following, then answer the last two questions:
The exercises and reflections in Unit 4 are designed to help you think about what it means to cross boundaries of race, culture, geography, religion, and class. Success in reaching one another across such boundaries depends on our ability to be open, to seek meaningful connection with our fellows, and to listen, listen, listen. Consider how it might shift your ideas about work and service to include activities like listening, making meaningful connection, and sharing food together as forms of service.
- Consider the idea that while on an experiential learning journey, our first and most important task is to listen as deeply as possible to the stories and accounts offered to us by those we visit. How does this impact our ideas about the “purpose” of the journey?
- How might deep listening and the experience of boundary-crossing as you travel lead to the ongoing work of justice on your return from the journey?