Quotes to Inspire Reflection in Service-Learning

Thinking critically about service may be new for students. Many students are not challenged by sharing their personal experiences with service or by doing the service itself.
However, some may be resistant to addressing the critical thinking goals of academic service-learning. Reflection, also known as processing, analysis, critical analysis, reflective critical analysis, etc. is imperative for making the learning happen in service-learning as it helps students to connect their service to the academic and civic course goals. There are many activities you can borrow or adapt for your service-learning class’s critical analysis. Please feel free to add quotes from your collection!

Charity, vertical, humiliates. Solidarity, horizontal, helps. - Eduardo Galeano

Education without direction is a one-sided social value. Direct action without education is a meaningless expression of pure energy. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
-- Mahatma Gandhi
"Students learn best not by reading the Great Books in a closed room but by opening the doors and windows of experience." Thomas Ehrlich

“The interaction of knowledge and skills with experience is key to learning.” John Dewey

How do we create a harmonious society out of so many kinds of people? The key is tolerance -- the one value that is indispensable in creating community. - Barbara Jordan

From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life. - Arthur Ashe

Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple...Barry Switzer

"Cut your chains & you are free, cut your roots & you die." ~African Proverb

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Discontent is the first necessity of progress." - Thomas Edison

Don't cry because its over. Smile because it happened. -Dr. Seuss

The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have. -Norman Peale

"If the road to social transformation can be paved only by saints who never make mistakes, the road will NEVER be built." - Van Jones

The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world. - Charles Malik

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

Although women do 2/3 of the world's labor, they own less than 1% of the world's assets- Isabel Allende

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness. ~Kahlil Gibran

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - Saint Augustine

"Once people are given voice, and once they understand that they can act collectively, there is no knowing what transformative power they find within themselves." -- Ann Pettifor

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." Chief Seattle, 1855

The Dalai Lama: We consider that the lives of all beings are just as precious as our own, and through this, we develop a sense of concern for others.

If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster.- Isaac Asimov

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. -Maya Angelou

"Justice is what love looks like in public." -- Cornell West

"Developing a more flexible way of seeing things helps us cultivate a more balanced mental attitude." -- The Dalai Lama

"(People achieve) fullness of being in fellowship, in care for others." -- Abraham Joshua Heschel

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.- Holocaust Museum

Ambitious people climb, but faithful people build." - Julia Ward Howe

"(People) can never attain fulfillment, or sense of meaning, unless it is shared, unless it pertains to other human beings." -- Abraham Joshua Heschel

"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." Lila Watson, Aboriginal activist

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (people) to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

True morality consists, not in following the beaten path, but in finding for yourself the path that truly fits you, and then following it most fearlessly. -- M.K. Gandhi

"Silence, and non action are the root of all things." -- Chuang-Tzu

"The degree to which one is sensitive to other people's suffering, to other (people's) humanity, is the index of one's own humanity" -- Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Dalai Lama: Wherever there lives a compassionate person, there is always a pleasant atmosphere.

"Let the stronger (person) give to the (person) whose need is greater." -- from the Rig Veda

There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all. ~ Author Unknown

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream." Mark Twain

We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill

“Change is not about putting a different kind of people in power but a different kind of power in people." Metta Center President, Michael Nagler

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Chuang-Tzu: The non-action of the wise (person) is not inaction.

"The riches of the (person) who gives fully do not run out, but the miser finds no one with sympathy." -- from the Rig Veda

“I ought to be at joyous ease, but I can’t help thinking of the people in the world.” -Shih Te

“I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You must show compassion for all beings.” -Avadᾱnaśatka

“That man is no friend who does not give of his own nourishment to his friend, the companion at his side.” -Rig Veda

“Let the stronger man give to the man whose need is greater.” -Rig Veda

Self-sufficiency, independence, the capacity to stand apart, to differ, to resist, and to defy--all are modes of being human.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The non-action of the wise man is not inaction.” -Chuang-Tzu

“Silence and non-action are the root of all things.” -Chuang-Tzu

“When paying charity, one should smile and be humble, allowing the hand of the indigent to be above the giver’s hand.” -Hamza Yusuf

“For change to happen in any community, the initiative must come from the individual.” -Dalai Lama

“Developing a more flexible way of seeing things helps us cultivate a more balanced mental attitude.” -Dalai Lama

“We consider that the lives of all beings are just as precious as our own, and through this we develop a sense of concern for others.” -Dalai Lama

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? 1967

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” - Helen Keller

“Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers. You can fill your life up with ideas and still go home lonely.” - Janis Joplin

“We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.” - Susan B. Anthony

“We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” - Marie Curie

“One likes people much better when they’re battered down by a prodigious siege of misfortune than when they triumph.” - Virginia Woolf

“You move totally away from reality when you believe that there is a legitimate reason to suffer.” - Byron Katie
“Courage is like a muscle. We strengthen it by use.” - Ruth Gordon

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” - Melinda Gates
We live on the leash of our senses.-Diane Ackerman

There is no way in which to understand the world without first detecting it through the radar-net of our senses. - Diane Ackerman

Great necessities call out great virtues. Abigail Adams

"I've always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic." -Abigail Adams

"To be good, and do good, is the whole duty of man comprised in a few words." -Abigail Adams

"We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." -Abigail Adams

"I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe." -Abigail Adams

"Wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure." -Abigail Adams

"I am deliberate and afraid of nothing." -Audre Lorde

"Who I am is what fulfills me and what fulfills the vision I have of a world." -Audre Lorde

"Hopefully, we can learn from the 60s that we cannot afford to do our enemies work by destroying each other." -Audre Lorde

"Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you're a human being, you feel, you suffer" -Marilyn Monroe

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.— Pema Chodron

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.— Albert Einstein

You and I create the world by the vibrations that we offer to the world. — Shri Chinmoy

Don’t give into your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.— Paulo Coelho

How far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps?— Warsan Shire

There is only one moment in time when it is necessary to awaken. That moment is now.— Buddha

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.— Lao Tzu

I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.— Baba Ram Dass

If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.— Lao Tzu

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.— Shigenori Kameoka

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.— Greek proverb

If it speaks to your heart, allow space for that.— Mooji

Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.— Unknown

I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come.
Get up and make them. - Madam C.J. Walker

I got my start by giving myself a start. -Madam C.J. Walker

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
Langston Hughes

“Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it.”― Langston Hughes

Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life. -W. E. B. Du Bois

“If you haven't confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. ” ― Marcus Garvey

“Intelligence rules the world, ignorance carries the burden...” ― Marcus Garvey

“The pen is mightier than the sword, but the tongue is mightier than them both put together.” ― Marcus Garvey

You don't fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity. -Bobby Seale

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” ― Ida B. Wells-Barnett

“one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap” ― Ida B. Wells-Barnett

“The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains.” ― Josephine Baker

“When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.” -Fannie Lou Hamer

“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes but the opposition he or she has to overcome to reach his or her goals.” -Dorothy Height

'If you want to do something then be the best.' -Garett Morgan

“Do what you gotta do so you can do what you wanna do.” ― Denzel Washington

It is a blessing to die for a cause, because you can so easily die for nothing. -Andrew Young

“History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.” ― Thurgood Marshall

The time is always right to do what is right. -Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., activist

I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear. -Rosa Parks, activist and "the mother of the freedom movement"

Have a vision. Be demanding. -Colin Powell, the first African American appointed as the U.S. Secretary of State

Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated. -Coretta Scott King, activist

Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations. -Dr. Mae Jemison, first African American female astronaut

The past is a ghost, the future a dream. All we ever have is now. -Dr. Bill Cosby, comedian and actor

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. -Booker T. Washington, author and politician
Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.
-Carol Moseley-Braun, politician and lawyer

Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color. -Author Unknown

In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress. -Booker T. Washington, author and politician

The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less. – Eldridge Cleaver

Where there is no vision, there is no hope. – George Washington Carver

Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough. – Billie Holiday

Each person must live their life as a model for others. – Rosa Parks

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. – Frederick Douglass

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. – Nelson Mandela
A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive.
Pearl Bailey

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.
Zora Neale Hurston

You have to be taught to be second class; you're not born that way.
Lena Horne


, Spirit Unbroken: Abby's Story

It’s estimated that $55 million dollars is spent on aftercare in Kenya alone every year. This model is not practical or sustainable and does nothing to address the growing epidemic of sexual violence ~ Lisa Cole, filmmaker Lioness

, author

It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subjects of the transformation. ~ Paulo Freire

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” says Patricia Parra , the chief of mission for Doctors Without Borders in Guatemala. “The level of this problem is similar to the levels during the war. We’re seeing conflict-level violence against women in what is supposedly a post-conflict country.” ~ Christian Science Monitor
THERE is no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.” ~Albert Camus, Philosopher, Writer
The most important gift anyone can give a girl is a belief in her own power as an individual, her value without reference to gender, her respect as a person with potential. ~Emilie Buchwald, author
The safety and esteem of a child are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience or offense. ~ Ellen Bass, cofounder of KidPower
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.

73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.

Every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted.


“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”
José N. Harris,

“In the end you’ll see you won’t stop me.”

Christina Aguilera