To do or not to do? DOs and DON’Ts in a service trip!
People join service trips with different expectations. Yet, there are some common dos and don’ts to better enhance the participants’ experience and understanding of the social issue(s).
Conducting research is crucial to enable us to get a sense of the demography, culture and social issues of the particular area. Certain stereotypes might be internalized but research, together with first-hand experience, would be a good way to break the stereotype.
Another “do” would be to stay aware of different circumstances, to protect the service users. Treat service users with dignity, respect their autonomy, and actively listen to their needs and perspectives. Be mindful of the potential impact of your actions and strive to create a positive and empowering experience for those you are serving.
One of the don’ts would be “don’t be judgmental”. People come from all walks of life. Poverty is widely discussed in most service trips. If we see the relatively low-income locals with a smartphone, does it necessarily reflect that they are not living under the poverty line? Poverty and smartphone are not mutually exclusive. Instead, we could interact more with the locals and get to know their situation and how we could help them in short and long term.
– Shared by the Soap Cycling Aug-2023 Service Trip participants