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 Reflecting & Sharing

Reflecting on your experience is an important aspect of any volunteer programme. It is highly valuable not only for you but also for others. Your hard-earned experience is knowledge which can inspire a change and teach others about things they did not consider before.

Reflection is part of the learning process

Volunteering is an experience which will probably change your mind-set and outlook on the world. You will learn a lot, gain skills, knowledge, and experience which you will use for the rest of your life.

Chances are, that what you experienced will be different from what you expected. Perhaps, you didn’t make that famous difference that you had in mind. Perhaps you realised that the hosting community were already doing it for themselves, and that you learned more from them, than them from you.

Volunteering abroad is a complex experience. There is a lot to take in, process and comprehend. Therefore, taking the time to reflect on what you experience and having the opportunity to discuss it with others who will understand you and who are able to give you useful feedback is important.

A reflection and sharing period to conclude a volunteering abroad experience is absolutely recommended. It is a good way to ensure that you are aware of what actually happened. What you expected and why. How reality impacted you and how it impacted your world view. How your perspective has changed and how you can use this in your future life.

 

Your future

Having a reflection period will help you realise what you have just gone through and what you are walking away with. Usually, it is a lot of new and improved skill which you will be able to use and also add in your CV.

Also, by reflecting on your new skills and mentality you will be able to prepare for the next steps of your career. Don’t forget you might be using this reflection when applying for jobs or study programmes.

Some people will realise that they want to continue to base their lives on what they experienced while volunteering. They go on to pursue lifestyles focused on community building or careers within international development.

 

Sharing reinforces your learning experience

Sharing your experiences makes you reflect even more on the learning process you have gone through. Challenging questions and other people’s perspectives will prompt you to dig even deeper and discover more.

Furthermore, spreading the word and details about your experience – how it affected you, what you did, and what you learned is part of the long-term change each project is striving to.

Sharing your insights about the programme and the overall volunteer experience can be an invaluable help for people who will be walking the same path as you. You can never be “too prepared” for anything and any information from a person who has already been through the process of volunteering will be helpful for others considering it.

 

Doing good better

Furthermore, organisations usually use your insights and feedback to improve their programmes and be better at what they are doing. By sharing your thoughts and reflecting on your project you are contributing to a better tomorrow for the volunteering world.

This final stage of the volunteer experience will also enable you to share your findings and evaluate the effectiveness of the work in the field. Was the work you did what the community needed? Did you manage to create a change or does it take more time? Different area to focus on? How did the hosting community react and evaluate your work? What did you get out of it and what would you change if you had to do it again? There are many questions to answer which will lead to an improvement of the programme and a better understanding of your own activities.

 

Some benefits of reflecting and sharing your experience:

  • It helps you better understand and evaluate your experience
  • It improves your future performance – reflection is a crucial part of the learning process
  • You can recognise your weakness and work on them
  • You can recognise your strengths and improve them
  • You broaden your perspective and understanding about the surrounding world
  • You pass on the hard-earned knowledge to help others in their future experience
  • You are well-aware about your identity and mind-set and you know how to use them to your advantage
  • You know what to point out on your next job or college interview
  • Information and knowledge sharing is essential for development and progress
  • Talking about your experience with others makes you see things which you might have missed or interpreted the wrong way
Volunteer reflection: You will thank yourself for it.

“We do not learn from experience – we learn from reflecting on experience”

~ John Dewey

Volunteer reflection: Important to do after volunteering abroad.
We don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience. ~ John Dewey

Reflecting & Sharing

We don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience. ~ John Dewey

Reflecting on your experience is an important aspect of any volunteer programme. It is highly valuable not only for you but also for others. Your hard-earned experience is knowledge which can inspire a change and teach others about things they did not consider before.

Volunteering abroad can change your life – so take the time to reflect on your experience.

 

Reflection is part of the learning process

Volunteering is an experience which will probably change your mind-set and outlook on the world. You will learn a lot, gain skills, knowledge, and experience which you will use for the rest of your life.

Chances are, that what you experienced will be different from what you expected. Perhaps, you didn’t make that famous difference that you had in mind. Perhaps you realised that the hosting community were already doing it for themselves, and that you learned more from them, than them from you.

 

Learning from sharing life.

Volunteering abroad is a complex experience. There is a lot to take in, process and comprehend. Therefore, taking the time to reflect on what you experience and having the opportunity to discuss it with others who will understand you and who are able to give you useful feedback is important.

A reflection and sharing period to conclude a volunteering abroad experience is absolutely recommended. It is a good way to ensure that you are aware of what actually happened. What you expected and why. How reality impacted you and how it impacted your world view. How your perspective has changed and how you can use this in your future life.

 

Responsible volunteering: Reflection is an important aspect to learn from your experience.

Your future

Having a reflection period will help you realize what you have just gone through and what you are walking away with. Usually, it is a lot of new and improved skill which you will be able to use and also add in your CV.

Also, by reflecting on your new skills and mentality you will be able to prepare for the next steps of your career. Don’t forget you might be using this reflection when applying for jobs or study programmes.

Some people will realise that they want to continue to base their lives on what they experienced while volunteering. They go on to pursue lifestyles focused on community building or careers within international development.

Reflection and sharing is an important aspect of responsible volunteering.

Sharing reinforces your learning experience

Sharing your experiences makes you reflect even more on the learning process you have gone through. Challenging questions and other people’s perspectives will prompt you to dig even deeper and discover more.

Furthermore, spreading the word and details about your experience – how it affected you, what you did, and what you learned is part of the long-term change each project is striving to.

Sharing your insights about the programme and the overall volunteer experience can be an invaluable help for people who will be walking the same path as you. You can never be “too prepared” for anything and any information from a person who has already been through the process of volunteering will be helpful for others considering it.

Volunteer abroad experience gets better with a reflection module.

Doing good better

Furthermore, organizations usually use your insights and feedback to improve their programmes and be better at what they are doing. By sharing your thoughts and reflecting on your project you are contributing to a better tomorrow for the volunteering world.

This final stage of the volunteer experience will also enable you to share your findings and evaluate the effectiveness of the work in the field. Was the work you did what the community needed? Did you manage to create a change or does it take more time? Different area to focus on? How did the hosting community react and evaluate your work? What did you get out of it and what would you change if you had to do it again? There are many questions to answer which will lead to an improvement of the programme and a better understanding of your own activities.

Sharing your experiences with others who have had similar experiences is important.

Some benefits of reflecting and sharing your experience:

  • It helps you better understand and evaluate your experience
  • It improves your future performance – reflection is a crucial part of the learning process
  • You can recognize your weakness and work on them
  • You can recognize your strengths and improve them
  • You broaden your perspective and understanding about the surrounding world
  • You pass on the hard-earned knowledge to help others in their future experience
  • You are well-aware about your identity and mind-set and you know how to use them to your advantage
  • You know what to point out on your next job or college interview
  • Information and knowledge sharing is essential for development and progress
  • Talking about your experience with others makes you see things which you might have missed or interpreted the wrong way
Remember to take time to reflect on what you experience while you are volunteering abroad.

Read more about aspects of responsible volunteering

5 Responsible Volunteering Tips

Are you researching how to go about volunteering abroad in a responsible & ethical way? In this post we share some resources that we think could be useful for you – at least we hope so!

Advice from an ex-volunteer

“Take your time. Prepare yourself. The longer, the better. Be realistic about your skills and use them wisely. And finally: Work with people. Solve problems shoulder to shoulder.”

Sustainability & volunteering

Sustainability reflects “the ability to continue a defined behaviour indefinitely”. A development project needs to ensure that all factors involved – environmental, social and economic – are in balance.

Solidarity or Charity?

On International Charity Day we ponder the differences between charity and solidarity. Charity, according to the United Nations, plays an important role in bringing about positive change. Is this true?

Voluntourism vs Intl. Volunteering?

Be realistic and honest about your role, be it as a short-term voluntourist or a longer-term international volunteer. Always put the interests and needs of the community first and before your own.

Be aware of stereotyping

As an international volunteer, you need to be aware of your negative stereotypes and implicit biases. You want to avoid unintentional neo-colonial behaviour. Proper training of volunteers is one way of doing it.