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SOCIAL JUSTICE IN ACTION: LEARNING THROUGH FOREIGN VOLUNTEERS IN CHINESE SCHOOLS

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Disciplines
  • Communication
  • Education

Abstract

Volunteering abroad has been growing in popularity over the past decade as a way for people of all ages to do something unique during their travels. While earlier research has looked at various elements and arrangements of international volunteering, this is the first study that specifically looks at young, foreign volunteers serving in Chinese schools. Profiling five volunteers from the United States and Europe, this paper aimed to understand the connections that are made between foreign volunteers and Chinese hosts and how these connections impact cross-cultural learning and social justice. Volunteer respondents indicated that their volunteering experience has modified their views on China and education, has taught them about the complex volunteer-recipient relationship, and will impact their future career or volunteer contributions. Analyzing the motivations, experiences, and reflections of these volunteers provides a model for international volunteering as a means toward social justice. The findings from this study are useful for understanding the multifaceted and evolving field of international volunteering in any context. To improve on the service learning experience for volunteers and their hosts, volunteers and their sending organizations should make particular effort to clarify volunteer-host communication, educate for mindfulness of the service setting, and emphasize a learning rather than a helping or fixing attitude.

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