To Move Forward, Look Inward (Part 1)

Break Away’s vision is to build a society of active citizens. Not only is reflection a crucial step in this process, it’s also vital for a quality service or community-based learning experience. Reflection is a rare opportunity to process new information and plan for future action. Structured reflection in a group setting should create an environment where all participants are able to contextualize their own experience while also considering larger systems that perpetuate or alleviate social injustice.

We believe quality reflection is predicated on three foundational pieces: a well-built team; a strong curricular framework; and a critical understanding of privilege, oppression, and social justice. In this series of blog posts, we’ll illuminate our tips to planning, facilitating, and participating in a topic-based and forward-thinking reflection.

Start before reflection begins.

As Audre Lorde described “the true focus of revolutionary change is to seek the piece of the oppressor that is planted inside of us.” When we practice self-evaluation, we broaden our perspective and begin unlearning false realities we’re raised with. Once the process of addressing the ways we’re socialized has begun, each of us is responsible for re-learning how to navigate the world as stewards of our communities and advocates for justice.

The process of deconstructing and reconstructing is uncomfortable and, often, unsettling. Navigating these conversations is unlikely to happen among people unfamiliar to each other. In reflection’s best iteration, groups with well-established relationships reflect together - creating an environment where participants are able to be vulnerable and to experience growth.

Leaders of the experience must prioritize developing the team well before the formal reflection begins to reach the ideal group setting for reflection. Try enhancing pre-trip curriculum to equip participants with necessary knowledge and language, or try bringing reflection into informal spaces (like car rides or downtime) so folks can get comfortable talking about the topic. Consider - in what ways are you using group builders to create an environment of trust where growth and learning can flourish?