Date of Graduation

Winter 12-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


International Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Luis E. Bazan


Presently, we are witnessing an unprecedented expansion of Western youth participating in short-term (1 to 2 week) international volunteering and service (IVS) programs in developing countries located predominantly in the Global South (Lough, 2012; Sherraden et al., 2008). Current academic literature around the impacts IVS has on receiving host communities in developing countries is highly controversial. This study utilizes ethnographic research, involving a combination of participant -observation and semi-structured interviews, to gain the perspectives of the Fijian Highland villagers from the IVS host community, on the positive and negative effects of hosting American (aged 14-18) participating in short-term (one-week) international volunteering and immersion service programs in their village since 1996. The findings from this research suggest that IVS programs utilizing adolescent American volunteers need to distance themselves from a goal of development aid to avoid creating negative outcomes for the IVS host community, resulting in a dependency culture, unsustainable development, and reinforcement of negative Western-culture stereotypes. Conversely, if IVS programs can transition their agenda to focus on a goal of intercultural understanding, where local IVS host community members and volunteers can engage in dialogue and group reflection activities, they will ultimately generate more positive, long- term sustainable benefits for both the community and the volunteers.