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Reflection Journal

A journal is different from a diary. Diaries keep track of what's going on around you. Journals help you reflect on what's going on within you. Keeping a journal is like carrying on a continuing conversation with yourself.

Journaling can be a doorway to growth. Through journaling you can get more in touch with what you really believe and feel about what's happening around you. It can help you get to better know yourself, your world, and your values.

How do you start? Journaling involves just two simple steps. First, set aside a bit of time each day. Second, let what's in your head and heart flow. What you write doesn't need to be deep or profound or earth-shattering. It just needs to be you!

New service learning experiences can provide you with lots of material. Write about your day's experiences and your reactions. Jot down the sights and sounds, tastes and smells, experiences and feelings that came your way today, and lingered on.

If you think of something to write about during the day and you don't have time to make a full entry, pull out your journal or scribble a quick note to yourself--jot down a few key words that will help you to recall the thought or feeling. Journals are a great place to pack away thoughts for later on.

If you think best in sentences and paragraphs, write that way. If key words and phrases work for you, do that. And, if your mind connects best with color and line, draw your way to a successful journal.

Finally, remember that journaling should also be fun and relaxing -- and make it so!

Here are questions that can spark ideas for writing in your journal and creating your portfolio.
Connecting with Experience
  • Look back on today. What struck you most strongly? What happened?
  • What images stand out in your mind? What sights and sounds and smells? What experiences and conversations? What was it about those images that made you remember them?
  • What was happening in your heart? What did you feel? Upset? Surprised? Confused? Content? What touched you most deeply today? Why?
  • What did you find most frustration? Most hopeful? Why?
Connecting with People
  • Look back on today. Who did you meet and work with during the day? Who did you relate to most easily? Who did you find it hardest to talk with? Why?
  • What did you learn about the people you met? How are their experiences most like yours? How are they most different? How would you feel if you had to change places for a week? For a year? For a lifetime? Why?
  • What did you learn about yourself today? What do you like about what you learned? What do you dislike and most want to change?
Connecting with Issues
  • What was happening in your head? How did the experience change or challenge your convictions and beliefs?
  • What needs did your service involvement try to meet? Why did or didn't it succeed?
  • How were justice and injustice present in the situations you faced today? Did you learn anything new about what causes suffering? About what you can do to make things better?
  • How are you part of the problem? Part of the solution?
Connecting with Your Learning
  • What information or skills did you learn today?
  • How did you apply knowledge and information you had learned before this project?
Connecting with the Future
  • What did you learn today that will help you in your service work in the future? What needs to change in the world to make things better? What needs to change in you?
  • What hopes and expectations do you have for those you served? For yourself?
  • Did the service experience affect what you think you deserve from life? How you would like to live? What type of job or career you might choose?

Source: Search Institute's An Asset Builder's Guide to Service Learning, pp. 95-96.


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