Advanced Volunteering

Lesson 6: Which steps can I take to reflect on myself?

Lesson 6 Chapter 2

Reflection during volunteer work

Reflecting during volunteer work is important. It is especially important when you are initiating a project or activity of your own. Or anytime when you initiate something, you suggest something or you try to change something in one way or another. Basically anything which happens because of your presence and wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  For example:

You introduce an activity in the school where you work as a volunteer. 

You want to buy materials for your project.

You initiate a different approach towards the treatment of patients.

You suggest a new way of handling a community issue.

You try to organize the materials at your project.

Questions to ask yourself

In the type of situations described above, you should make some considerations before acting. Questions you should ask yourself when you are initiating a project or activity of your own:

  • Do I know the underlying reason(s) why things go the way they go?
  • Did I consider how my own background shaped the idea?
  • What do I expect to be the end result when I initiate something? Is that realistic?
  • Is it going to be helpful in the long term?
  • Have I engaged others in my plans?
  • To what extent am I trying to accomplish personal goals by initiating this plan?

memory aid for reflection

A simple memory aid to help you reflect on yourself during volunteer work is the sentence "Do I have to do this now?". When you read this sentence aloud, you emphasize a different part of the sentence every time you read it. By putting different emphasis on the sentence, you can reflect on different aspects of a project.

By thinking about the answer to these questions you make sure that you reflect on yourself and your behavior during volunteer work.

Expecting feedback

A lot of volunteers would expect feedback from someone at their project, though in many instances this does not happen. Volunteers may feel as though their work is not appreciated. Local coordinators might respond to questions from volunteers differently from how they might expect.

It is very much likely that members of the community will give socially desirable answers (or indirect responses) to volunteers as it is seen as being polite in their culture. There is a chance that the members of the community will resort to nonverbal communication in order to get their messages across to you.

Be aware of this when you are asking for feedback. 

Next lesson: Test your knowledge