Topics and Questions for Reflection

Hopes and Expectations

  • Why are you volunteering?
  • What do you hope to gain from your experiences?
  • What do you hope to give or learn?
  • What is a skill that you hope to grow in this term?


  • What are three things that stood out to you today during your volunteer experience?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere of the place where you are volunteering?
  • How did the service site make you feel?
  • What was a highlight and a low point of your interactions today?
  • What was the best/worst/most challenging thing that happened?
  • Evaluate the volunteer work that you did together:
    • What worked?
    • What didn’t work?
    • How can we improve our service?

The Meaning of Service

  • How would you define service?
  • Has this definition changed based on your service experience? How?
  • What is the most valuable type of service? The most honorable? The most necessary?
  • What motivates you to serve? Should everyone engage in service? Why or why not?
  • What do you like most about service learning?

The Community We Serve

  • When did you feel most connected or disconnected with the people you are working with?
  • What did the “body language” of the people you volunteered with tell you? How did their responses make you feel?
  • What brings people to the service site (both people seeking service and volunteers or staff)?
  • How are “strangers” or newcomers welcomed at the service site?
  • What are the similarities and differences between volunteers and the people we are serving?
  • How are you similar or different to the others (in your volunteer group, people seeking services, etc.)?
    • How do you relate to or identify with the people you have encountered?
    • How do you differ from these people? What might you gain or learn from them?
    • In what ways did being different help or hinder the group?
  • How much do you feel like a part of the community you are working in?
  • How do you define community?
  • When was a time when someone really supported you?
  • How do you imagine a typical day might be like for someone who uses the services of the organization you are working with?
  • If you were one of the people receiving services, how might it affect your view of yourself?
  • What do you think the people we volunteer with need?
  • If you were in charge of this program or service site, what would you do this differently?

How Has Volunteering Affected Me?

  • What did you learn about _______?
  • Who did you meet during your service work that touched you deeply?
  • How were you different when you left the service location compared to when you entered?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • How does this experience compare to others you’ve had?
  • When did you feel a sense of internal or external conflict during your volunteering session? What are the factors that contribute to it? How might you resolve or cope with the conflict?

Social Justice and Societal Issues

  • How has your service contributed to your growth in any of these areas: civic responsibility and engagement, political consciousness, professional development, spiritual fulfillment, social understanding, and intellectual pursuit?
  • What are you learning about this community or related societal issues?
  • How has this experience challenged your assumptions and stereotypes?
  • What public policies are involved in creating the need for our volunteering here? What are their implications? How can they be improved?
  • Who determines what’s best for this community?
  • How have your experiences with volunteering changed your view of the local community?
  • What social or environmental problem touches you most right now and why?
  • What is a social issue that you have come in contact with during your volunteer placement?
    • What do you think are the root causes of this issue?
    • How might your service contribute to its alleviation?
    • What could our volunteer group do to address the issues we see at the service site?
    • What could each participant do on his or her own?
    • How can society better deal with this issue?
    • How can society be more compassionate/informed/involved regarding the community that we are serving?
  • How can this experience apply to other situations in your life?
  • How can your solutions apply to other situations in your life?
  • How can your solutions apply to the problems of other groups?
  • What is the difference between generosity, charity, justice, and social change?
  • Where do we go from here? What’s the next step?

Career, Vocation, and Future Plans

  • When you began the term/year at this volunteer placement, how did it relate to your future goals?
  • What were you wishing to develop in yourself?
  • What do you hope to do in the future and why?
  • How does this volunteering experience make your studies (or other learning) come alive?
  • How is this volunteering experience helping you know what you want to do with your life?
  • How do you discover your passion and live that out?
  • If you need this experience for a course or in applying to a program or job, why do you think it is needed?
    • How will it help you with your chosen field or enrich your work in the field?
    • To what extent are you getting what you need to help you be better in this field?
    • What would you be missing if you hadn’t had this experience?
  • What do you think are the challenges, trade-offs, and rewards of the path you are moving on?