> Return to Table of Contents
> Return to Activities

Possible Quotes

Quotes Exercise

Quotes can be a useful way to initiate reflection because there is an ample supply of them, they are often brief yet inspiring, and they can sometimes be interpreted in multiple ways. Facilitators need not limit quotes to those that represent the popular view or the view supported by the group, but can offer a mixture of quotes that represent several viewpoints, or one that has multiple interpretations. Participants should be challenged to consider the other meanings the quotes may have to different individuals. Participants can also be invited to share personal quotes, taken from their own journal entries or their other written work.

Facilitators may want to make the reading of quotes a group activity by filling a hat with strips of paper containing different quotes. Each participant draws a strip of paper and reads the quote to him/herself. Participants take turns reading their quote out loud, explaining what they think it means, and discussing how it might pertain to the service project at hand. The following quotes can be used in this manner.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who posses power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Minister, Civil Rights Leader

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.
-- Horace Mann, Philosopher

I believe that the serving and being served are reciprocal and that one cannot really be one without the other.
-- Robert Greenleaf, Educator and Writer

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bout up with mine, then let us work together.
-- An Aboriginal Australian woman

Chuck Lathrop in A Gentle Presence...shared this story about an Appalachian woman who had the 'good fortune' of having a new house built by well intentioned volunteers to replace her old dwelling:

As the [original] structure was being burned the woman came out on the porch of her new place and said, 'You know, you may have built me a new house, but you're burning down my home.'
In response, Lathrop asks, "Are we listening? Are we learning anything, or are we too busy teaching?"

-- Chuck Lathrop as quoted in Baker, "Are we Providing a Service?"

WE are the leaders we have been waiting for!
-- Sweet honey in the Rock, Musical Group

With this new paradigm [where service-learning is integral to the mission and practice of higher education]...we would see students not as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge but as active learners who build meaning through context. We would see the campus not as an ivory tower, but as a socially engaged institution. We would see community service not as charity, but as reciprocal process with reciprocal benefits. We would see teaching and research not only as the domain of faculty, but also as the work of students and community partners...we would see education not as a value-free venture, but as a directional process cultivating public virtues and meeting public needs.
-- Goodwin Liu, Service-Learning Educator

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.
-- Cicero, Philosopher

One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don't come home at night.
-- Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

The relatively innocent desire to help is so thinly distinguished from wanting to be the helper. But the latter is capable of all sorts of distortions; wanting to be widely known as the helper, wanting to make some decisions for the helper, wanting to dictate, to paternalize, to manipulate.
-- Robert Greenleaf, in Teacher as Servant

When I help, I am aware of my strength and of others' weaknesses...Fixing is a form of judgement. It implies something is broken and creates a distance, a disconnection. We can only serve that which we are profoundly connected to.
--Sam Daley-Haris, Director of Results, a social change organization

That we needed homes, and you gave us Food Stamps,
That we needed jobs, and you got us on the Welfare,
That our families were sick and you gave us your used clothes,
That we need our pride and dignity as human being and you gave us surplus beans.

-- Si Hahn, in How People Get Power: Organizing oppressed communities for action

Those of us who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. We will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our agressivity, our ego-centered ambitions, our delusions about ends and means.
-- Thomas Merton, Philosopher

Most Americans have never seen the ignorance, degradation, hunger, sickness, and futility in which many other Americans live...They won't become involved in economic or political change until something bring the seriousness of the situation home to them.
-- Shirley Chisholm, six-term Congresswoman, Presidential Candidate

Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have.
-- Oprah Winfrey, Talk Show Host, Actor, Producer

I change myself, I change the world.
-- Gloria Anzaldua, Writer

I am not a do-gooder, I am a revolutionary. A revolutionary woman.
-- Jane Fonda, Actor, Activist, Fitness Instructor

If I do not speak in a language that can be understood there is little chance for a dialogue.
-- bell hooks, Writer and Educator

I don't want to be someone who enters communities solely to get things done, I want to be part of a sustaining, connected, and interdependent set of communities.
-- Peter Hocking, Brown University, in response to the motto of Corporation for National Service "Getting Things Done"

The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.
-- Audre Lorde, Writer

I'm looking for a time when women are changing the nature of power versus power changing the nature of women.
-- Bella Abzug, Women's Rights Leader

Assume that in spite of the ways we have been divided, it is possible to reach through those divisions, to listen to each other well and to change habitual ways of acting which have kept us separated.
-- Dr. Ricky Sherover-Marcuse, Diversity Trainer and Psychologist

Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be unlocked from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal.
-- Marily Ferguson, Educator and Writer

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.
-- William Butler Yeats

Creativity requires the freedom to consider the "unthinkable alternatives," to doubt the worth of cherished practices.
-- John Gardner, Leadership Writer

We should seek a community of honest differences rather than a community of enforced consensus...
-- Dr. Lloyd Komatsu, Carleton College Convocation Address, 1992

Indeed, banking education (where the teacher "deposits" knowledge into the student and then makes "withdrawals" in the form of tests and quizzes and methodical questioning) contains a powerful hidden curriculum that teaches students that the world is hierarchical, that the powerful are often arbitrary and insensitive, that they must learn their place in the hierarchy because there is no alternative to either controlling or being controlled. Banking education cultivates passivity, conformity, obedience, acquiescence, and unquestioning acceptance of authority. It makes objects out of students, it dehumanizes, it denies students' experiences and voices, it stifles creativity, it dis-empowers. It tells our children that there is something wrong with them; that they, rather than their schools and society, need fixing.
-- S. Kreisberg, Transforming Power: Domination, empowerment, and education

I believe we should fight for the unrealistic, rather than defend the unacceptable.
-- Bill Shore, Founder of Share our Strength, a hunger organization

Everything has changed except for our way of thinking.
-- Albert Einstein, Physicist

All of our destinies are interviewed.
-- Carrie Thornhill, Washington, DC community development advocate

Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.

-- May Angelou, excerpted from "On the Pulse of the Morning"

> Next Section: Activities: Group Exercises