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Self-Reflection

Is this organization a good fit for me?

In accordance with our values, the CCE is committed to fostering diverse and inclusive community-based experiences. We recognize participants in these experiences as whole people and encourage them to consider what they want to give to and get out of these opportunities. We also understand that our identities mean that we will have unique experiences in the world, including when serving our community. This portal is intended to be a tool for self-reflection as participants consider how their identities may impact their community-based experiences.

We recognize that some identities can be disclosed, while others are perceived or assumed. We also recognize that the intersections of our identities impact how we experience them. We hope that reflection on these questions, considered singularly or together, helps students decide if a community partner is a good fit for them. It is important to ask: How might my identities impact my experience at my community partner? How much of myself do I want to share?

We know we cannot cover all aspects of identity on a static website, so please engage in conversation with CCE staff or others on campus or at your community partner to discuss any questions or concerns that arise through this reflection exercise or your service. While exploring partner pages on the Community Relationships Map, you are welcome to reach out to a particular CCE program manager with questions regarding specific organizations or feel free to drop by our advising hours.

General Questions
Preparing to Serve
  • How important is it for me to find other students and friends who share my identities while at this organization? How will I connect with them?
  • How comfortable am I when staff and clients ask about my relationships (boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, etc.)? Can I come up with a plan for answering those questions?
  • What may make sharing my identities a different experience at my organization compared to home? Or on campus?
  • How will I incorporate my experiences in this organization back into my life on campus, especially if I have shared my identities in different ways to people at my organization?
  • During my service, how prepared am I to work across differences or challenge assumptions with the staff and clients at my organization?
As You Explore
  • What role do people with my identities play at the organization?
  • Is there a nondiscrimination policy? What does it include? (Please note the University of Richmond nondiscrimination policy.)
  • Does the agency include welcoming statements around diversity and inclusion? Are there diversity and/or identity groups present? This may include a Gay Straight Alliance, Diversity Committee, Lunchtime Prayer Group, etc.  
As You Decide

Please note that the CCE has available resources for transportation and financial support to assist participants in their civic engagement commitments.

LGBTQ
Coming Out with a Community Partner
  • Does the community partner have a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression? (There are no state or federal protections for LGBTQ people in Virginia, however please note the University of Richmond’s inclusive nondiscrimination policy.)
  • How open and honest do I want to be about my sexual and gender identity at my community partner site? Do I have a plan for answering questions about my sexual and gender identity?
  • Are there open/out individuals working at/with the community partner already? Are there internal networking or affinity groups for LGBTQ staff?
  • There are often negative stereotypes around LGBTQ people working with children. How will I address this if it comes up? Who can I talk to on campus and at my community partner about this?
  • How will I incorporate my experiences in this organization back into my life on campus, especially if I have shared my sexual and/or gender identity in new ways to colleagues at my community partner?
Addressing Relationships/Sexuality
  • How comfortable am I sharing my relationship status with my community partner staff, recognizing that it may out me? How about with clients? What about children? Can I come up with a plan to address these questions?
  • LGBTQ people are often asked inappropriate questions about their sexuality, sexual practices, and their bodies; do you have a plan to address those questions and report incidents appropriately? You should never feel obligated to answer these types of uncomfortable questions.
Religion/Faith-Based Organizations

Many LGBTQ people have had negative experiences with religious/faith spaces, but not all religious organizations are anti-LGBTQ. With that in mind how do I thoughtfully investigate the climate of a community partner and not allow stereotypes about religion to impact my inquiries?

Facilities/Gendered Activities
  • Does the community partner organization offer restroom and/or locker room facilities that meet my needs as a transgender or genderqueer person? Can I use facilities that correspond to my gender identity at this organization?
  • Are there expectations for different genders regarding certain activities, dress codes, or behavior? Can I participate and wear clothing that reflects my gender identity at my community partner organization?
  • If I am serving over the summer where housing is offered, can I live in housing that matches my gender identity and/or can the program accommodate special housing requests such as single rooms, private baths, or certain roommates?

These questions were developed in partnership with Common Ground.

Spiritual/Religious
Spiritual/Religious Self-Assessment
  • What is my spiritual belief system? Do I consider myself religious and/or spiritual, in relationship with a higher being, rooted in a specific faith tradition, or as having a philosophy that guides me? To see how others name and describe their beliefs, you may want to explore the Chaplaincy's "This I Believe" page.
  • How does this belief system define how I find meaning in my life?
  • What are the most important values from my belief system that frame how I find meaning (i.e. selflessness, empathy, justice, etc.)?
  • How does my belief system frame my responsibility to others? How does my belief system impact my choice to pursue civic engagement opportunities?
  • How do I want my belief system to be reflected in my civic engagement? Am I looking for that belief system to be explicitly referenced in the language my community partner organization uses or the values that guide it? Are there other ways that it could be reflected in the organization's work?
  • How comfortable would I be in working with a community partner whose guiding belief system differs from mine? What about a belief system that is at odds with mine? (i.e., Would I be comfortable working with a secular organization? A Catholic one? An Evangelical one?)
  • How open and honest do I want to be about my belief system? Do I have a plan for answering questions about my belief system?
Organization Assessment
  • What is the mission of this organization and what is the belief system that guides it?
  • Can my opportunities at this organization help me live out the values in my belief system? Can my opportunities at this organization help me fulfill my responsibility to others? If not, is this community partner still the right fit for me?
  • Do I anticipate being among others like me at the organization? Will I be the only person with my belief system there? Do the answers to these questions inform my decision to volunteer there?
  • Christianity is a broad belief system that includes many denominations with many nuances in ideologies. If I am Christian, I may assume that a Christian organization shares my beliefs when they may be quite different. Am I comfortable exploring that?
  • Will I be able to take the time and space I might need to pray while at this organization? Am I comfortable explaining these needs to staff and clients at the site?
  • Will I feel comfortable wearing any religious apparel or other external signs of my belief system at this organization? If so, am I comfortable explaining these to staff and clients at the organization?
  • People, especially children, may be unfamiliar with or have assumptions about my belief system about which they may ask me. Though inquisitive, these questions may feel inappropriate. Am I prepared to answer any questions that they might have about my belief system?
Further Reflection
  • Do my opportunities at this organization help me live out the values in my belief system? Do my opportunities at this site fit into my responsibility to others?
  • Are there things that happen during my work at the organization that make me feel uncomfortable? Will I feel comfortable at the organization if the belief system of the organization is not in harmony with mine?

These questions were developed in partnership with the Office of the Chaplaincy.

International Students
Visa Restrictions or Requirements

  • What volunteer restrictions or requirements come with your visa?
  • For students on F-1 or J-1 visas, immigration laws require that your service be charitable or humanitarian in nature rather than a job for which you are not receiving pay. If you have any concerns regarding this, please contact Krittika Onsanit in the Office of International Education at konsanit@richmond.edu and/or the Bonner Center Staff member who helped coordinate your volunteer experience
Non-Native English Speakers

  • Are you willing to be in a non-academic environment where people may use lots of acronyms, slang, colloquialisms, and/or non-standard English? 
  • At some volunteer sites, you may be asked to do more listening, reading, and writing. At others, such as mentoring sites, you may need to talk more. Are you more comfortable with one type of communication over the other? Which do you prefer in your service experience?
  • Do you want to use your native language in your service?
  • Are you looking at this as an opportunity to improve your English? What is your comfort level with conversational English?
Answering Questions About Your Community
  • Are you comfortable answering questions about your home country and your native language?
  • Are you comfortable addressing stereotypes about your home country? Do you have a plan for answering those questions? 
  • Would you feel comfortable reaching out to the Bonner Center staff member who coordinates your volunteer work to reflect on your experience? 
Learning About A New Community
  • What expectations do you have about the community you will be working with? What do you think your volunteer experience may be like?
  • Would you prefer to volunteer with an organization at a time when other UR students will be volunteering there?
  • What beliefs do you have about the populations with which you may work? Are you prepared to confront any stereotypes that you may have about the populations with which you work? If you would like to reflect on this question further, please contact the Bonner Center staff member who helped coordinate your volunteer experience.
  • What prep work or homework do you want to do to learn more about the community you will be working in? Do you want additional resources on the American cultural background/history that impacts your community?
  • How prepared are you to serve in a community where the cultural norms may be very different from the norms of your home country? For example, a typical school day may function very differently at your community partner than it does from schools in your home country.
Additional Reflection
  • How will you integrate your experiences into your studies?
  • Are there similar programs or organizations like this in your home country?
  • If you choose to go back to your home country and to continue volunteering, do you know how to get involved? What resources are available to you?
  • Is there a culture of volunteerism or civic engagement in your home country? How is different? How is it the same?
  • What challenges did you experience in American volunteerism and civic engagement?
  • Did something surprise you about your experience?

Sexual Misconduct

If something happens at a partner site that violates the Title IX Sexual Misconduct Act, we are required to report it to the Title IX coordinators.