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: How do we perceive the impacts of colonialism? (30 minutes)

Individual Reflection

Invite members of your Circle to get out their journals. Look back at the notes that you each compiled in your reflection on neocolonialism, and take a few minutes to consider those reflections.

  • What surprises you the most about your own reactions to these ideas?
  • What troubles you still?
Work In Pairs

Turn to a partner and spend a few minutes sharing with one another, while practicing active listening, about the ways that you have realized neocolonialism and global poverty relate to your own life, and how those realizations have affected you. When both partners in each pair have had a chance to share, return to the full group.

Large Group Discussion

Pull out the group’s collective notebook, whiteboard, blackboard, or flip chart. Spend a minute or two sharing and recording your collective reflections on the ways that neocolonialism impacts our own context in North America.

  1. What are some of the visible ways that we see these impacts?
  2. What are some of the less visible, less easily noticed ways that these impacts may emerge?

Ask a member to read aloud the following portion of the reading we offered in this unit by Robert J.C. Young:

“Colonial and imperial rule was legitimized by anthropological theories which increasingly portrayed the peoples of the colonized world as inferior, childlike, or feminine, incapable of looking after themselves (despite having done so perfectly well for millennia) and requiring the paternal rule of the west for their own best interests.”

Ask another member to read aloud the following questions, with ample time for silent reflection between questions. Then share your responses, as you are willing and able, with your Circle.

  1. Have you ever found yourself wondering impatiently about some person or group of people “why don’t they just do it this way”?
  2. Have you had the experience of being told how to do something you already know how to do?
  3. Does this present context of reading and reflection shift the way you remember or think about those times?

As you listen actively to the stories that emerge from these experiences, reflect on how the emotions and reactions contained in them can help you think about what Young would call the feminization, infantilization, and disempowering of non-white, non-western peoples. Share those reflections together as time permits.

Part II: Destination Reflections (50 minutes)

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