Date of Graduation

Winter 12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)

Department/Program

International Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Luis E. Bazan

Abstract

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.

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