At GROUND Asia, we work closely with educators and students to customize meaningful community service projects. We believe keeping a journal while studying abroad benefits students. A journal is an excellent way for students to integrate their viewpoints with meaningful topics and improve their writing skills at the same time.
It’s also a particularly effective medium to refine a student’s analytical skills, leading to more mature outlook. These educational travel programs will give students the invaluable experience of setting realistic and achievable goals for themselves. Effective planning are some of the life-skills GROUND Asia exposes students to.
Writing about these experiences in a worthwhile endeavor for teachers as well. By reading their insights, thoughts, and feelings, Teachers can effectively further a student’s development: focusing on their strengths, while also pointing out things they’ve overlooked.
Here are a few tips for journal writing that will help your students write in a well-rounded manner while traveling abroad in their community service learning project.
Don’t Wait to Arrive
Get your students to start their journals in advance. While they may not realize it at the time, they’re forming all sorts of expectations about their upcoming study abroad experience. Looking at photos and videos of the destination, students’ form ideas of what the community and the people will be like. These preconceptions should be noted and compared with their experiences on the ground after travelling with GROUND Asia.
Thinking Through Critical Issues
Your students don’t have to be accomplished writers to keep a journal. Just writing down their thoughts will compel students to process their experiences in more analytical and structured ways. The opinions your students form shape their understanding of the world: what issues are critical to them, what they value in a community. Taking part in these community service projects hopefully creates compassionate and resilient individuals.
Students should avoid describing their activities in a list or bullet-point format. It’s boring and does not provide the reader with any interesting insights. Instead, encourage them to include their own opinions and setup their stories or anecdotes in a captivating fashion: bring their travels to life. It’s not necessary to include every single thing they do, for example, what kind of toothbrush you packed. Get your students to pick out new or interesting activities that take place each day. Using dialogue will also make their journals more interesting. Encourage your students to include stories they may have overhead, for example, conversations between locals, or observations made by classmates. One of the most exciting aspects of traveling is encountering people from different backgrounds. From their own observations, get your students to document cultural differences: the ways people behave, or the different ways locals interact. Even the smallest observations, like the way people greet each other, can be interesting.
Keep It Fresh
Finally, an important aspect of writing is getting it down on paper while it’s still fresh in your mind. Writing in the moment will capture the vibrancy of the situation. They don’t have to write a great deal, just keywords that perhaps describe the smells, tastes, sounds, or feelings they have. Later, going back to the entry, these keywords will immediately trigger emotions they felt at the time.
Writing long after the event can lead to a false memory. If students can’t remember the details clearly, they run the risk of ‘embellishing’ their experience. For this reason, we encourage your students to carry a small pocket book during their trip abroad. Make sure your students know they don’t need to write literary masterpieces. Sometimes describing random emotions can lead to the most captivating results.
For more information on GROUND Asia’s school travel programs, faculty-led study abroad trips, please get in touch with us.
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GROUND Asia partners with communities across Asia to assist in their sustainable development. The communities we work with are our clients. To meet their expectations, we empower them through mutually beneficial programs to ensure their development needs come first.