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Transforming student perceptions: the Casa Guatemala experience Stewart, Jeffrey Todd 1994

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TRANSFORMING STUDENT PERCEPTIONS: THE CASA GUATEMALAEXPERIENCEbyJEFFREY TODD STEWARTB.A. Hons., Queen’s University, 1985B.Ed., Queen’s University, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTYOF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Social and Educational Studies)We accept this thesis as conformingto the equired standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch 1994© Jeffrey Todd Stewart, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.__________________________Department of SfxLSThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate ii 2Z IDE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTTeaching students to have a “global perspective” is one of the key aspects of global education.Curriculum used to develop such a perspective at the high school level rarely involvesexperiential cross-cultural programs which take students to the “Third World”. One suchprogram, the Casa Guatemala Project in British Columbia’s Richmond School District, sendsa small group of grade eleven and twelve students to Guatemala each year for two weeks towork at a childrens’ orphanage. This study looks at how the experience transforms thestudents’ perceptions of Guatemala, North America and themselves.This investigation focuses on the substance and dynamics of changes in the students’perceptions using Mezirow’s (1991) theory of the transformative dimensions of adultlearning. The research follows six students as they go through the program from Septemberof 1992 to April of 1993. Semi-structured and open-ended interviews, student journals,researcher observations and available documentation suggest that the students’ perceptionsand worldview are altered as a result of three key dynamics: a) conflict and dilemma, b)selective perception, and C) group dynamics and dialogue. When the students return toCanada they experience an intense period of alienation from their own community andsociety as they attempt to comprehend, assimilate and accommodate solutions to newunderstandings generated by the experience. The possible benefits of structured preparationand debriefing sessions are explored, as are implications for other experiential learningprograms of a similar nature.IIIivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractTable of Contents i VAcknowledgements v iChapter One: The Problem1.1 Introduction 11.2 The Research Population and Program Student Selection Process 41 .3 The Problem 71.4 Overview of the Research Methodology 91 .41 Semi-structured and Open-ended Interviews 91 .42 Student Journals 1 41 .43 Field Observations 1 51.44 Documentation 1 51.45 Summary of the Research Methodology 1 61.5 The Role of the Researcher in the Study 1 71.6 Towards a Theory of Experiential Learning in Young Adulthood 1 91.7 Chapter Outlines 24Chapter Two: Literature Review2.1 Introduction 272.2 Sources of Literature 282.3 Experiential Learning 292.4 Citizenship Education 3 92.5 Environmental Education 4 62.6 Global Education 5 22.7 Cross-Cultural Learning 5 82.8 Discussion 6 32.9 Conclusion 65Chapter Three: History of the Casa Guatemala Project3.1 Introduction 6 73.2 Origins and Early Years of Casa Guatemala (1979-1 989) 683.3 The Great Leap Forward: Launching the Trip to Guatemala 79(1989-1990)3.4 Expanding Horizons: A Period of Consolidation and Evaluation 99(1990-1992)3.5 Future Considerations for the Casa Guatemala Project 111Chapter Four: The Students’ Perceptions Prior to the Tour4.1 School Selection Process and Lead Up to the 1993 Tour 11 34.2 The Students and their Perceptions Prior to Departure 11 64.21 Linda Shaw: Social Status or Social Action 11 84.22 Holly Range: Feminism and the Trumpet 1 23V4.23 Kaily Soila: On the Fast Track of Perceptual Change 1 274.24 Alice Gibson: An Adventure in Cross-Cultural Learning 1 334.25 Jane Lamb: Alienation and Social Action 1 384.26 Tim Long: Informing a Legal Career 1 434.3 Onward to Guatemala: Common Factors Affecting the Students’ 1 48PerceptionsChapter Five: The Journey Through Guatemala5.1 Introduction: The First Steps Forward 1 545.2 Guatemala City: Just Another “North American” Town 1 565.3 Antigua: Learning About Life in Guatemala from the Tourist Beat 1 615.4 San Jose Chillijuyu: The “Happy Poor” 1 665.5 Chichicastenango: The “Bargain Basement” of Guatemala 1 685.6 Tikal, Flores and the Camino Real: Temples, Poverty and Karaoke Bars 1 715.7 Round Two of Guatemala City: Deepening Reflections and Divisions 1 755.8 The Visit to a Baby Orphanage in Guatemala City 1 785.9 Casa Guatemala on the Rio Dulce: Gunboats, Mansions, Paint and 1 80Partnership5.10 Livingston, Emilio and Casa Alianza: From Speeches to Glue Sniffers 1 925.11 Last Minute Reflections: The Students’ Perceptions before the Journey 197Home5.12 The Reception Back Home: Suntans, Gifts, Memories and Anger 2035.13 Summary 215Chapter Six: Conclusions6.1 Change and the Students’ Expectations 21 86.2 Critical Aspects of Transformation in the Students’ Knowledge, Values 219and Perceptions6.3 Conflict and Dilemma in Perceptual Change 2226.4 Selective Perception 2276.5 Group Dynamics and Dialogue 2306.6 The Need For Preparation and Debriefing Sessions 2326.7 Implications for Experiential Learning 237Bibliography 240AppendixA Semi-structured Interview Questions 247Appendix B Letter of Permission 251viACKNOWLEDGEMENTSEducational research always involves the support of many individuals. This study is noexception. First of all, I would like to thank the administration, teachers and students in theRichmond School District who supported this research effort from 1992-1994. To thestudents who participated in the research, I would like to extend my gratitude for providingyour time and energy throughout the experience. I wish you all the best in your futureendeavours. Without the assistance of Mr. Bob Carkner (Principal of Richmond SeniorSecondary) and Mr. Bruce Seney (Teacher, Steveston Senior Secondary) this study wouldnot have been possible. I am also indebted to Mr. Ray Sawatsky and Ms. Jill Poulton fortheir assistance providing critical background information on the Casa Guatemala Project.This study has been continually guided by the encouragement of many individuals inthe Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Peter Seixas, inparticular, has acted as my mentor and thesis advisor since 1991. His guidance has shapedmy own professional development as a researcher and teacher. Likewise, Dr. Deirdre Kelly,Dr. Walter Werner, and Dr. Roland Case (Simon Fraser University), provided a great dealof assistance throughout this project.Finally, I am greatly indebted to my partner, Ms. Megan Spring, for her constantencouragement and assistance while writing this thesis. Thank you for tolerating all thehours spent in a deep trance before the computer screen.This thesis is dedicated to the memory of my grandparents.Jeff StewartMarch, 19941Chapter One: The Problem1.1 IntroductionThe sixty kilometer road between the airport at Flores and the ruins of Tikal is, withoutdoubt, one of the best maintained in Guatemala. The pavement cuts through the dense lowlandjungle of the Peten and a myriad of small Campesino farmsteads and villages. Locals stare atour tour bus without much concern and, once we have passed, they quickly return to whatpreviously occupied them. At either end of this well engineered highway the road reverts tothe more common composition of dirt and gravel. This is poignantly obvious to us flying intothe regional airport and even more on the fourteen hour bus ride from Guatemala City. Atthe northeastern corner of Lake Peten-ltza and half way along this first rate jungle path youcan find the Westin Camino Real Tikal. It is a five star, international class hotel with roomscosting between $150 and $200 [U.S.] per night.I was travelling with a group of twelve senior high school students and three teachersfrom Richmond, British Columbia, and an eighty-two-year-old physician from Australia.We arrived at the Camino Real that evening at about 5:00 pm. Most of us were drenchedwith sweat, tired, hungry and grumpy after a long day of touring the ruins of Tikal. On theway into the resort we had passed dozens of isolated peasant houses made of thatched palmroofs and dried cornstalk walls. In a patchy clearing near the hotel, several Maya childrenwere playing soccer in their bare feet, using what appeared to be a worn out plastic ball. Asthe group reached the hotel many individuals experienced disbelief, anger and rising tension.The students wondered why they were staying in such affluent surroundings when all theyhad seen during the day were the homesteads of destitute peasants.This was not the students’ first glimpse of poverty in Guatemala. However, on thisparticular evening they confronted in full force the contradictions between extremes of2wealth and poverty on this planet. Perhaps more disturbingly they were realizing that theymight be implicated in this global relationship. The group had come to this region of the“Third World” to learn about its culture and, most importantly, to support the work of achildrens’ orphanage named Casa Guatemala. At home, in Richmond, the tour was viewed as asymbolic act of compassion, empathy and global civic duty. Yet, in the minds of thesestudents this mission was being compromised by their stay in these lavish accommodations.The perceived distance between intent and action could not have been greater. Thecontradictions of the situation did not escape anyone on that bus. As the bus pulled up to theentrance of the hotel the students unloaded their luggage and the guide was promptly tipped.While checking in one student commented under her breath, “This is totally bogus.Like...what are we doing here?”At this particular moment the students had been thrust headlong into a powerfulethical dilemma. The wealth that they possessed provided the opportunity to stay in opulentsurroundings. The same could not be said of the parents and children they had just passed onthe roadway into the Camino Real. The students firmly believed that they had come toGuatemala to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of “Third World”. Their missionin this regard was concrete and clearly defined. They were in Guatemala to complete thework on an extension to the six room school house at the orphanage which had been madepossible by the fundraising activities that they had participated in for the preceding fourmonths. Despite all of this, however, they could not escape who and what they representedin the immediate context. They were the rich. They were the powerful.Their reaction to this situation continued to change as the evening progressed. Afterquickly settling into their rooms, the students went down to the heated swimming pool,complete with a miniature waterfall. They were introduced to two families: one from theVancouver area and another from Guatemala City. Both had come to the resort to get away3from the stress related to maintaining a very substantial standard of living. This day alsomarked the eighteenth birthday for one of the students. So, it was agreed that the groupwould dine together that evening to celebrate the occasion. After completing a very lavishmeal served by local waiters dressed in black and white, and trained in continentalpresentation, the chef appeared to present the chocolate birthday cake. The events of thatnight concluded with a visit to the karaoke bar and billiard tables in the lounge beneath therestaurant. The “troops” had been entertained to a standard of expectation befitting thisstyle of accommodation. Had it not been for the fact that this resort was located in the middleof the Peten jungle, nothing seemed radically out of place or different from that which onewould expect to find at the Bayshore Westin in downtown Vancouver.Hours earlier the students had demonstrated outright repugnance towards theimplications of the arrangements for accommodation. The most intriguing aspect of theseevents was the observation of the students’ willingness to move quickly past their earlierexpressions of guilt and disillusionment. Their ability to cope with this paradox wasstriking, but not altogether unexpected. The switch in mood seemed to be a deeply ingrainedand even trained response to the situation. This did not mean that the implications of thisparticular dilemma had reached a point of complete resolution for each of the students; theircomments in later interviews would reveal that this was not so. To be sure, they werepowerless to do anything to alter the situation, or at least believed they did not possess theability to change the course of events given that they were in a strange country and under theguidance of other adults. For the moment they allowed themselves to look beyond theimmediate context. They rationalized an agreeable solution that fixed on the grander design ofthe declared mission behind their journey. It was the end of the first week of touring. Thiswas meant to be a time for getting acquainted with the customs, the language and the cultureof the people of Guatemala. This kind of accommodation helped to cushion the images they4dealt with each day. It was something familiar and predictable. Over the past few days, theweek of touring had been referred to by members of the group as a necessary transitionperiod before they engaged in the more challenging tasks that awaited them. The followingday they were to enter the second phase of the trip. They were off to work at the orphanagewith children they had learned so much about over the last few months. With the potency ofthis earlier source of conflict now diffused the students shifted their thoughts towards theRio Dulce.The hotel incident was only one of many encounters which shaped the learningexperience throughout the duration of the students’ involvement in the Casa GuatemalaProject.1 For each of them, the journey began in earnest during the application process fivemonths prior to their departure. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that theexperience with the program was pivotal in their early adult development. Yet, there is noway to clearly delineate when or where the ramifications of this journey will end or findexpression throughout their lives. Quite often such changes take a long time to come tofruition or occur in such subtle ways that this cannot be accounted for in research. Thestudents were brought to Guatemala for two weeks in the hope that the experience wouldassist them in bridging the mental and emotional gap between the “First” and “Third World”.This study provides a narrative account of this journey from the perspective of six youngadults who participated in the educational trip to Guatemala in March of 1993.1.2 The Research Population and Program Student Selection ProcessThe research carried out in this study focuses on the experiences of students involved in the1 The Casa Guatemala Project should be distinguished from Casa Guatemala, an orphanagefor abandoned, abused and neglected children located in Guatemala City and on the Rio Dulce.The secondary school program, based in Richmond, British Columbia, exists as a communitybased fundraising and advocacy project supporting the operations of the orphanage but is innot officially linked to the institution in Guatemala.5Casa Guatemala Project in 1992/1993. The program involves the administration, staff andstudents from three senior secondary schools in Richmond, British Columbia. These schoolsare: a) Richmond Senior Secondary, b) McNair Senior Secondary, and c) Steveston SeniorSecondary. Overall leadership of the Casa Guatemala program has come primarily from BobCarkner, the current principal at Richmond Senior Secondary. In recent years, significantinput and organization has also come from the principal at Steveston Senior Secondary. Theprincipal at McNair is only nominally involved and supportive as are the district’s centraladministrative officers.In the spring and fall of 1992, one teacher from each of the three secondary schoolswas selected to help coordinate the Guatemala trip. This involved a variety of tasks such asstudent selection, fundraising, educational and physical preparations, as well as mediarelations. They would also act as chaperons throughout the journey to Guatemala. BruceSeney, a social studies teacher from Steveston Senior Secondary, was asked to head this triadof supervising teachers because of his long standing participation in the project and hisextensive experience in leading student travel-education programs. Jenny Coyle and RosaLaconte represented McNair and Richmond respectively. Neither of them had previousexperience coordinating programs of this kind.The student body of the three secondary schools is ethnically heterogeneous with asignificant and growing percentage of students with Asian and East Indian origins.Historically, the largest segment of students in the district come from families of Europeandescent. Most students attending these schools come from relatively affluent, middle toupper-class backgrounds. Twelve students from this population were selected forparticipation in the Casa Guatemala Project. The students ranged from sixteen to eighteenyears-of-age. Ten of the students were female. Although preference has generally beengiven to individuals in grade twelve, the graduation year in the province of British6Columbia, five of the students selected for this year’s trip were enrolled in grade eleven.This decision was, in part, a reflection of the desire to have a returning contingent ofparticipants within the schools for the following year.The student selection process was initiated between September and early October of1992, and was carried out by committees comprised of teachers and administrators. Thetwelve candidates had been selected and confirmed by early December of 1992. Theintensity of competition within the application process varied greatly between schools. AtSteveston, the process was the most intense and involved the submission of a personalresume, a written response to a one page questionnaire and a five-hundred word essay.These last two instruments were used to outline a history of each student’s extra-curricularactivities and explain their rationale for involvement in the program. The documents werereviewed by the selection committee and students were short listed for interviews whichgenerally lasted twenty minutes. The final selections were announced after the interviewprocess was completed. Relative lack of interest in the program at McNair and Richmondforced the selection committees to accept those applicants who were willing to meet thetravel and accommodation expenses. They also had to demonstrate a history of goodcitizenship and an academic standing of second class honours.While the initial intention was to choose four students from each school, six of theparticipants came from Steveston, four from McNair and two from Richmond. There areseveral reasons for this distribution. The travel-education program to Guatemala wasoriginally conceived and initiated at Steveston in 1990 and as a result, this school has ahistory of being more intensively involved in the project. Second, Steveston was the onlyschool to establish a waiting list as a result of the initial round of interviews. It was fromthis list that two additional Steveston students were chosen when openings became availablebecause of withdrawals from McNair and Richmond in November of 1992. Both of the7cancellations were the result of monetary considerations. This was not an unreasonableexcuse for dropping out as the students who did participate had to independently provideclose to $2,500 [Cdn.] for travel, food and accommodation.1.3 The Research ProblemThe central focus of the research carried out in this study was to look at how the experiencealtered the subject’s perceptions of themselves, their own society and a “Third World”country, namely Guatemala. This involved an analysis of both the learning dynamics thatfostered perceptual transformation and the substantive qualities of the changes. The directexperience included their participation in a short term educational program that involvedone week of travel in Guatemala and one week of work at the privately run orphanage whichis sponsored, in part, by Richmond’s secondary school project. To document the process ofchange in the students’ perceptions it was first necessary to write a series of subquestions toguide the construction of a picture of the subjects’ personal background, their motivationfor involvement and the relevant aspects of the knowledge, values and worldview that theybrought into the program. Hence, the initial interview was framed around questions thatexplored: a) students’ explanation of their rationale for involvement and what they expectedto gain from the experience, b) their career and future life goals and how these related tothe program, what they knew about Guatemala and the history of the Casa GuatemalaProject, c) how they viewed Canada and the political, social and environmental issues thatsurrounded their lives, and d) their view of the central purpose of the project. As the CasaGuatemala Project was only one of many travel and exchange opportunities available in thesecondary schools participating in the project, it was anticipated that the students would beable to describe how they felt this program was different or similar to the others, and inrelation to this, how they understood their interest in the program in relation to their peer8group. Finally, because the program is based in an advocacy perspective that involves localfundraising, education and promotional activities on behalf of the orphanage, the initial setof questions also looked at their perceptions of the program’s impact on their immediatecommunity and for those related to the project within Guatemala.The second set of guiding subquestions was centered around the students’ awareness ofwhat they were learning throughout all phases of the experience. This set of probes wasconstructed on the presumption that the students could examine changes within their ownknowledge, values and perceptions as the events of the program unfolded. Therefore, thestudents were asked, in various forms, to articulate what they felt they were learning fromthe experience before their departure, during the time in Guatemala and upon their returnhome. More specifically, this group of questions probed their changing knowledge ofGuatemala, the nature of their political critique of the issues surrounding the “Third World”and how these issues related to their own lives in the “First World”. This also involvedexplanations of how the immediate experiences had altered the way they looked at their owncommunity. Finally, because the program was set is a social framework that involveddialogue with parents, teachers, friends and other community members, the students werecontinually asked to express their thoughts and observations of other peoples’ reactions totheir involvement and the various experiences that unraveled as the program progressed.The last set of guiding subquestions was geared towards the re-immersion into theCanadian lifestyle and their home community. This inquiry also acted as a summativeframework for the students. Questions structured during this phase looked at how theexperience had affected their personal priorities, vocational outlooks and the possibility forfuture involvement in similar kinds of programs. The questions were gauged in this lastsection so that the students would explore their own priorities regarding the salient aspectsof the entire learning experience. Finally, the three subsets of questions were refined and9written in a more formal sequence for use in semi-structured interviews throughout thedifferent phases of the research which is outlined in greater depth in section 1.41 below. Alist of all interview questions is provided in Appendix A.1.4 Overview of the Research MethodologyThe purpose of this research on Casa Guatemala is not to evaluate program effectiveness perse, but rather to investigate how the experience influences changes in the subjects’perceptions, values and knowledge. This suggested that the research methodology be centeredaround ways of identifying subtle, yet significant shifts in the students’ thinking at variousstages of participation in the program. To accomplish this task the research was carried outon a longitudinal basis from the beginning of the academic year (September of 1992), whenthe students were first selected, to a period one month after they had returned home (Aprilof 1993). In this manner, different phases of their involvement were used to substantiateand analyze the transformation of the subjects’ perceptions. To record this, a variety ofqualitative data gathering techniques were employed including: a) semi-structured and open-ended interviews with student participants, school staff and a community member, b)student journals, c) field observations, and d) a review of all available documentationsurrounding the history of the program.1.41 Semi-structured and Open-ended Interview SessionsThe primary research strategy used in this study were the semi-structured interviews,scheduled on four different occasions with the students. The first round of interviews tookplace in late December of 1992 and early January of 1 9932 At this point the students had2 All semi-structured interviews were held in the school classrooms after instructionalhours. Individual sessions were held at the students’ respective schools and in privacy.Group sessions were structured so that students knew to take turns responding to10known about their selection for the program for only a few weeks. The primary goals forthis interview included gaining an introduction to the students, developing personal rapportand establishing the researcher’s presence as part of this years team. This session was alsoparticularly useful in mapping out a baseline of the subjects’ prior knowledge andperceptions and in gathering the information necessary for the construction of a basicpersonal history for each party. The first interviews also initiated the process ofidentifying the six students that would eventually be tracked throughout the remainder of theexperience.Of the twelve student participants in the program one declined to participate in theresearch. A second student, Tony Eng, was deemed ineligible because he had participated inthe program the previous year.3 His knowledge and experience within the program wouldgenerate a substantially different quality of data. Consequently, he participated in an open-ended interview after the completion of the program in April of 1993. The data from thissession was useful in constructing a history of the Casa Guatemala Project in Chapter Threeand in guiding the analysis of data provided by the other subjects in Chapters Four and Five.Following the first round of interviews ten students remained as part of the researchgroup. At this time it became necessary to consider how the students would be tracked forthe rest of the study. All of the ten remaining students had reacted very favourably to thefirst round of interviews and it became apparent that cutting some of them from the studymight jeopardize the positive and constructive relationship that was emerging up to thisquestions.3 All students referred to in this study are identified by pseudonyms. Because all thesubjects were legally minors at the time of the research, each of their parents orguardians has signed and submitted a permission slip to the researcher, declaring theirpermission to allow their student to participate in the study[see Appendix B]. The studentsalso declared their permission on the same form.11point. Elimination of specific students from the research may also have had the impact ofchanging the students’ interpersonal relationships, possibly inferring that an hierarchyexisted within the group. Just prior to the second round of interviews it was decided that sixof the students would continue to be questioned on an individual basis, and that the other fourwould take part in group interviews. This continued to be the basic interview structure forthe remainder of the study. The students who participated in individual interviews wereselected on the basis of the diversity of their backgrounds, stated reasons for participatingin the program and the differences in their responses to interview questions. A secondaryaim was to include representative students from each of the three schools.The second round of interviews took place during late February and early March of1993, the two weeks immediately prior to departure for Guatemala. It was anticipated thatthe students would demonstrate a heightened sense of awareness and more intense reflectionssurrounding the upcoming experience. At this point the students would also have had theopportunity to carry out some degree of independent learning about Guatemala, theorphanage and the project in general. Furthermore, the students would have engaged indiscussions with friends, family, teachers and former participants that may have affectedtheir ideas about participation. These interviews probed changes in the direction andsubstance of their earlier responses.The third round of interviews occurred while the team was in Guatemala betweenMarch 8th and 22nd of 1993. The same structure of individual and group interviews wasmaintained at this time. Open-ended interviews were held during the third and fourth daysof the trip in order to probe the students initial reactions to the experience. At this pointthe students were involved in the travel phase of the trip when most of the time was spentsight-seeing in and around Guatemala City and Antigua. The open-ended interviews wererepeated between March 20th and the 22nd after the students had worked at the orphanage12for at least a day or two. The reason for documenting their reactions at two different timesduring the trip stemmed from the desire to capture their immediate and longer termreflections while in the host country. It was anticipated that the second week of the journeywould be a period of greater emotional ease for the students as they would have had time toadjust to the conditions of travel in the host country, a situation that would permit greaterclarity of thought about the larger implications of the experience. At this point they mightalso be contemplating their own reaction to re-immersion into Canadian society.On the eighth day of the trip, two students told their sponsor teacher [Jenny Coyle]that they no longer wished to participate in the study. No adequate explanation was given fortheir decision to withdraw.4 No pressure was placed on the students to explain theirdecision to opt out of the research. As a result, the data gathered from their previous twointerview sessions was not used in the study. However, it should be noted that theirwithdrawal eliminated what might have constituted a more critical perspective towards theprogram. Understanding why some students have a negative reaction to specific events,reject participation in a group process, or act out their frustrations through hostilegestures is as important as discovering more positive responses to educational programs ofthis kind.The fourth and final set of semi-structured interviews were held between April 26thand May 6th, 1993. As a result of the two student withdrawals, only five of the originalstudents continued to participate in the individual sessions with three remaining in the focusgroup interviews. At the time of this round of interviews, the students had returned to their4 The students that remained in the study acknowledged the decision to withdraw from theresearch by the two individuals. This change did not affect the remaining students’attitudes towards the research in any noticeable manner. In fact, the participants were notsurprised to hear of the two individual’s withdrawal. Follow-up conversations with theteachers and students confirmed that the researcher was not to blame for the decision, butwas implicated in their rationale for withdrawal. Specific details of this situation cannot bedisclosed for ethical reasons.13normal routines at school, home and work. It was assumed that the month long intervalbetween this point and the end of the trip would allow the students sufficient time to reflecton their experiences in Guatemala and pull together some sense of an overall analysis of theimmediate and longer term relevance of the program to their lives. During this last session,the students were asked to discuss their most important memories, what they had come tounderstand about Guatemalan and Canadian society from the journey, their constructivecriticisms of the program, the nature of their interaction with the other participants, aswell as the reaction of their peers, teachers and family members to the experience.After several discussions with the research advisor, it was concluded that data fromonly six of the students should be analyzed to enhance the manageability of the study. Thisdecision made it necessary to eliminate two of the remaining eight students. This was doneafter a review of their background information and a careful reading of their transcripts andjournals. One of the criteria used to eliminate participants at this point was the clarity anddepth of their responses within the interview sessions and journal entries. The second andequally important criterion was the emphasis placed on maintaining a diversity ofpersonalities, a range of personal histories, and a variety of perspectives on the experiencewithin the study.A separate set of interviews was undertaken between September 1992 and May 1993with four key individuals involved in either the historical development or the presentimplementation of the Casa Guatemala program. This included Bob Carkner, Jill Poulton,Bruce Seney and Ray Sawatsky.5 Jill Poulton was the community member responsible forthe program’s original development and inception in 1980. Bruce Seney had been involvedwith the Casa Guatemala Project on the periphery for several years at both Steveston Senior5 These interviews were held independently between September of 1992 and April of1993.14High and London Junior High and, as mentioned earlier, he was also chosen to lead theexcursion this year. Ray Sawatsky was a student participant in the first travel program toGuatemala from Steveston in 1990. From the information provided through open-endedinterview sessions with each of these individuals, it has been possible to construct a briefhistory of the project which is provided in Chapter Three. Second, their dialogue provided adiversity of detailed perspectives regarding the educational mandate that has guided theprogram’s development. From this information I was able to construct deeper insights intothe subjects’ responses to questions in light of the historical perspectives on the program.Finally, these data were also used to confirm the validity and consistency of the researcher’sanalysis of the students’ perceptions surrounding the experience in Guatemala and upontheir return home to Richmond.1.42 Student JournalsThe second source of data on the students’ perceptions was the students’ journals. Eachstudent was asked to make a few entries prior to their departure to Guatemala, one every daywhile on the trip and several more within the first couple of weeks after their return toCanada. Only six of the eight students involved in this study submitted their journals on theoccasion of the last interview. Both of the students who did not provide a journal stated thatthey had experienced great difficulty in expressing the quantity and complexity of thethoughts they were having during the trip and in frustration mentioned that they had simplygiven up on the process. However, the six submitted journals contained a wide variety ofrich discourse that chronicled their emotional and intellectual reactions to the variousencounters, as well as outlining the specific factual information surrounding the places theyhad been and the activities that they had engaged in. Their journal reflections proved to beinvaluable in supplementing the substance of the perceptions revealed in their interview15sessions and provided an important source for assessing the validity of the researcher’sinterpretations.1.43 Field ObservationsField observations, recorded in a research log, comprised the third source of data collectionin this study. These notes were based on a variety of sources and activities which includedinformal discussions with several school personnel, students and community membersinvolved with the Casa Guatemala program, conversations with the thesis advisor, as well asan independent analysis of the events taking place throughout the duration of involvementwith the project. Conversations contributed to an understanding of the school culture whichsurrounds the program and the contextual environment which shaped the students’perceptions. Attendance at several of the organizational meetings provided a means ofunderstanding the nature of the students’ preparation for the experience. The meetings wereused by the supervisory staff for a variety of purposes, including medical and mentalpreparations, dissemination of scheduling information and learning materials on Guatemala,as well as guidelines for conduct and emergencies. More importantly, these meetings werethe vehicle for developing a sense of collective consciousness surrounding the larger ethicaland educational purposes behind the program. Observations of these meetings provided animportant component of the analysis of group dynamics and the learning context whichshaped the students’ initial perceptions of the program.1.44 DocumentationA review of various sources of documentation on the project was undertaken to furtherinform the study. This included an the examination of a video documentary produced for theprogram in 1990, the project’s promotional booklet, as well as selected materials contained16in Bob Carkner’s administrative files.6 These files contained a wide variety ofcorrespondence with key personnel involved with Casa Guatemala, regional newspaperclippings and documents that surrounded various aspects of project administration. Byreviewing these primary documents, the researcher was able to gain a richer perspective onthe history and educational context of the program and develop clearer insights into thesubstance and references contained in the students’ dialogue.1.45 Summary of the Research MethodologyThese four methods of data collection, then, constituted the heart of the research strategy inthis study. The emphasis on this form of qualitative methodology is in keeping withsuggestions emerging from two reviews of research on experiential learning and youngadults (Hamilton, 1980; Conrad, 1991). What has emerged from this study is a wealth ofcontextualized information that focuses on students’ perceptions of themselves, theirengagement in activities in Guatemala and their evaluation of the learning process whichgrew out of the experience. This study claims no broad generalizability to other researchpopulations or educational constituencies. The value in exploring the research problem inthe context of this narrative case-study comes with the construction of the students’individual and shared accounts of the various events that took place throughout theirparticipation in the Casa Guatemala Project. From an analysis of their dialogue it will bepossible to explain how the substance of their perceptions has been transformed by theexperience. Likewise, the specific dynamics responsible for these somewhat serendipitous,yet crucial changes in perception can be identified.6 The documents cited from Bob Carkner’s administrative files were obtained by hispermission and will henceforth be noted with the abbreviation (CF) for “Carkner Files”.These included newspaper articles, letters of correspondence, project proposals,promotional pamphlets, newsletters and bulletins.171.5 The Role of the Researcher in the StudyAssessing the effect of the researcher’s role within the group begins with the identificationof his perspective on the Casa Guatemala Project. In this regard it should be acknowledgedthat the researcher is an advocate of experiential cross-cultural programs, especially sowhen travel involves exposure of North American teachers and students to “Third World”contexts. There is a tendency amongst educators to select only those travel and exchangeprograms which involve wealthy industrialized states. Teachers and administrators sendschool groups to Japan or Europe instead of Panama or South Africa. One of the centralreasons expressed for this preference is concern for the health and safety of students. Whatis often cloaked in this rationale is the educator’s own lack of understanding and fear ofpeople and places in the “Third World”. The Casa Guatemala Project was selected as the casestudy for the research problem largely because it exemplifies the leadership and convictionnecessary to break down the emotional and intellectual distance between communities in theNorth/South axis of global political economy. For the researcher, this study provided theopportunity to document the substance and quality of learning that took place during thestudents’ experience with the Casa Guatemala Project. This was done, in part, with hopesthat programs of this kind will continue to proliferate.There was no forum planned within the 1993 program for the students to discusstheir perceptions of the learning experience with their peers or teachers. Hence, theresearcher assumed this role inadvertently through the use of periodic interview sessionsand requests for journal entries. Both mediums of expression acted as a reflective formatfor the students to articulate their concerns and understanding of the events that surroundedthe program. In fact, there was evidence in the students’ conversations and journals, thateven the researcher’s presence stimulated reflective and analytical thinking. When theresearch was initiated in the fall of 1992 the students were fully briefed on the focus of the18investigation. There is no doubt that this understanding played a role in shaping thestudents’ perceptions of the experience. Knowing that the researcher was looking forchanges in their perceptions may have crystallized the notion that change was going to occur.While working with the group the researcher did not assume the responsibility ofone of the supervising teachers. The absence of a power orientation within the grouppermitted the development of a more open and discursive relationship between theresearcher and students. One of the students described the researcher as being “like an olderbrother” on the tour. However, the researcher’s involvement with the group did include avariety of leadership roles. This took the form of role modelling, organizing work details atthe orphanage or providing advice and guidance to the students when requested. Despite therelaxed and interactive relationship that emerged with the researcher throughout theprogram, students remained aware of the fact that research was being carried out and thattheir conversations and activities were being monitored and recorded.The effect of this relationship between the students and researcher must beunderstood when considering the nature of the data collected in this study. There is thepossibility that the substance of the students’ perceptions would have been expressed in adifferent manner had the researcher not been associated with the tour. Cognizant of thisimpact, every effort was made by the researcher to triangulate the findings of the study.The researcher balanced insights gleaned from the data against a review of variousinformation sources: a) file documents, newspaper articles and video tapes collected fromprevious tours to Guatemala, b) interviews with former participants, teachers andcommunity members associated with the program, c) presentation of chapter drafts to BobCarkner, Bruce Seney and Ray Sawatsky. Throughout the study references are made tospecific instances that further demonstrate the effect of the researcher’s presence on thestudents’ discourse.191.6 Towards a Theory of Experiential Learning in Young AdulthoodLike most of their peers, the teenagers involved in the Casa Guatemala Project wereexploring the deeper existential issues of meaning, vocation, social responsibility andhuman relationship for the first time in their lives. They were leaving the world ofadolescence and negotiating the intricacies of their consciousness with a sense of wonder andamazement. Under such circumstances it is easy to see why the Casa Guatemala Project wasso alluring. It held the promise of a engaging these individuals in an experience which wasunlike anything they or their peer group had ever encountered.The students involved in the Casa Guatemala Project did not enter the program asblank slates, suddenly eager and aware of the need to construct perceptions of societiesdistinct from their own. They came to the program with backgrounds which informed theirperspectives and knowledge of the issues, the people addressed by the actions of the project,as well as their reasons for becoming involved. Only a few of them had ever been affordedthe opportunity to step outside the relatively affluent parameters of their daily lives inurban Canada to experience the reality of life in a “Third World” context. Herein lies thegist of this investigation. The students carried into the program their pre-existingperceptual orientations concerning the relationship of their community to Guatemala andGuatemalans. From their brief exposure to this country and their re-immersion intoCanadian society, they developed values, understandings and a worldview that had beentransformed by the experience.Mezirow (1991) entitled this process of perspective alteration as, “thetransformative theory of adult learning.” While it is not practical to summarize the breadthof his arguments here, there are several key concepts that are particularly relevant to thisstudy. At the centre of Mezirow’s assumptions about adult learning is the role that languageplays in the construction and negation of meaning. For Mezirow, all meaning is sustained20and constructed within the framework of established cultural-linguistic norms or “dialogiccommunities” (p.57). Hence, learning is primarily a social process of negotiating, testingor “naming” the terms of one’s existence through communication with others. Mezirowlabels this phenomenon, “consensual validation”. It is from experience within ourcommunities that we continually refine meaning perspectives or personal paradigms inorder to interpret the events encountered in daily life. Mezirow describes these meaningperspectives as, “rule systems of habitual expectation” (p.42). He further categorizesmeaning perspectives as epistemic, psychological or socio-linguistic in orientation.Meaning perspectives in turn provide the parameters under which meaning schemesdevelop:Each meaning perspective contains a number of meaning schemes. A meaningscheme is the particular knowledge, beliefs, value judgments, and feelingsthat become articulated in an interpretation. Meaning schemes are the concretemanifestations of our habitual orientation and expectations (meaningperspectives) and translate these general expectations into specific ones thatguide our actions. (p.44)Because meaning perspectives are constituted on a grander cognitive scale than meaningschemes they are much harder to identify and even more difficult to alter. Meaningperspectives exist in a mental orientation which is seldom clearly articulated by theindividual and this lack of articulation often leads to highly selective views of reality.Mezirow explains the longitudinal implications of maintaining such distortions using AshleyMontague’s terminology of “psychoscierosis” or “hardening of the categories” (p.50). Thedirection and cycle of adult learning is geared towards identifying, clarifying and correctingdistortions in perspectives.Of critical importance to this study, is the notion that individuals often block oravoid their perceptions of circumstances that hold the potential of openly challenging ourpre-existing meaning schemes or perspectives. This tendency is described as a perceptual21filtering system that has the effect of shaping the substance and patterns of one’sobservations of the world. Mezirow asserts that this is a fundamental component ofcharacter formation carried over from childhood where we learn to establish our “horizonsof expectation” (p.51). As he describes:In fencing out the world by focusing on a limited span of things, it seemsinevitable that the learner must give disproportionate weight to some thingsthat do not deserve it and artificially inflate the importance of the limitedarea that falls within his or her horizon of perception and action. (p.51)What is not clear from this analysis of selective perception is how or under whatcircumstances individuals actually decide to reach out and intentionally transcend theirestablished perceptual horizon. This appears to be a critical distinction which needs to berefined in Mezirow’s proposal of transformative learning. Within the context of this study,however, it is sufficient to acknowledge the dynamic of perceptual filtering and selection. Inreference to observations of the students’ dialogue and actions, distortions could take theform of elaborate rationalizations, missed or inadequate observations of critical events,avoidance of involvement in problematic situations, excessive participation in task-orientedbehaviour, intensified association with group members, as well as the maintenance ofmannerisms more closely related to their home environment. Any instance or constellationof these behaviours could indicate attempts to maintain perceptual “blind spots” or to avoidincreased anxiety from a given circumstance. This does not preclude the notion that suchepisodes might also be interpreted as manifestations of a slower pace of progression withinthe transformation process, but it does signify the attempt to obstruct the immediateimplications of anxiety producing situations.To initiate the sequence of events which ultimately leads to transformative thinkingrequires the intervention of divergent actions which produce a sense of conflict ordilemma within one’s established meaning schemes. The more profound the ramifications of22an action, the more likely it is to challenge an entire meaning perspective. Once a conflictexists within the individual’s frame of reference there is a compulsion to resolve it throughcritical and reflective action. Calling on the works of Dewey, Mezirow defines reflection asvalidity testing; the method by which individuals correct distortions in their thinking,involving changes in the predication of either the content, process or the premise(s) ofunderstanding (pp.101-105). Reflective actions are the concrete manifestations ofattempts to test the implications of newly formed meaning schemes or perspectives.Furthermore, it is important to point out that while content and process reflection can leadto the changes in meaning schemes, only premise reflection leads to perspectivetransformation. Critical reflection and reflective action then, constitute the centraldynamics of transformative learning. They are an integral and intentional characteristic ofadult learning which compel individuals to resolve contradictions within their meaningschemes and perspectives and progress towards more sophisticated conceptual frameworks(p.147). As Mezirow states:Transformative learning involves an enhanced level of awareness of the contextof one’s beliefs and feelings, a critique of their assumptions and particularlypremises, an assessment of alternative perspectives, a decision to negate an oldperspective in favor of a new one or to make a synthesis of old and new, anability to take action based upon the new perspective, and a desire to fit the newperspective into the broader context of one’s life. Perspective transformationinvolves (a) an empowered sense of self, (b) more critical understanding of howone’s social relationships and culture have shaped one’s beliefs and feelings, and(c) more functional strategies and resources for taking action. Taking action isan integral dimension of transformative learning. (p.161)In order to summarize the process of perspective transformation, Mezirow has identifiedten distinct phases which constitute the sequence of reflective learning. Mezirow claimsthat the identification of these phases is supported through his own research and subsequentresearch carried out by Joyce Morgan (p.168). The phases are structured in the followingmanner:231. A disorienting dilemma2. Self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame3. A critical assessment of epistemic, sociocultural, or psychological assumptions4. Recognition that one’s discontent and the process of transformation are sharedand that others have negotiated a similar change5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions6. Planning of a course of action7. Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans8. Provisional trying of new roles9. Building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships10. A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s newperspective. (p.168)While the transition between these phases is seldom neat and clearly distinguishable, theframework, nevertheless, provides a heuristic device that can be applied to the observationof an individual’s reactions to circumstances which hold the possibility of beingtransformative in nature. Mezirow’s theory of the transformative dimensions of adultlearning is useful in studying the students’ perceptions of their involvement in the CasaGuatemala Project. The brief, but sudden, immersion of the students into the life of theorphans and society in Guatemala is the type of event capable of stimulating the process oftransformative thinking because it involves confronting a realm of circumstances which arecompletely foreign to their known experiences. Disorienting dilemmas can be identified bylocating either specific instances, such as the events which unfolded during the Camino Realepisode, or by looking at the experience of the entire program. In the latter case it is moreappropriate to regard the program as an entire cycle of challenges leading to perceptualtransformation.The research carried out within this case study does not attempt to further validateMezirow’s theories or the model concerning the phases of transformative learning. Rather,it uses his proposals as a theoretical framework to help explore how and why the students’perceptions are altered over the course of their involvement in the Casa Guatemala Project.In basic terms, the model assists in the construction of an explanation of the learning that24takes place under circumstances which are relatively unstructured and ambiguous. Hence,the analysis of data will proceed with the implicit assumption that Mezirow’s postulationsregarding the dynamics of adult learning provide an appropriate framework for this study.This would be consistent with Chickering’s (1976: p.64) view that adult modes of learningand social interaction are already in place by the middle teenage years. More specifically,the role that conflict, selective perception, and reflective action play in the alteration of preexisting meaning perspectives and schemes is of particular relevance to the observation andanalysis of the students’ dialogue, as well as the interpretation of their reactions to theseries of events which unfold throughout the journey. These central concepts will bereferred to in some detail within the concluding chapter.1.7 Chapter OutlinesThe remainder of this study is comprised of five chapters. Chapter Two provides a review ofthe literature and research that has been instrumental in shaping and informing theproblem and methodology used in this study. The review was constructed around sourcesfrom five different subject areas because of their particular relevance to an exploration ofexperiential learning programs that engage students in community-service or otheradvocacy orientations. These subject areas include experiential learning theory, citizenshipeducation, environmental education, global education and cross-cultural learning. Each ofthese sources contributed findings that were worth consideration when refining theanalytical orientation towards the Casa Guatemala Project and the students’ perceptions inparticular.Chapter Three looks into the history and evolution of the Casa Guatemala Project.The narrative begins from the project’s inception as a limited child sponsorship activity tothe current program that involves substantial levels of fundraising for the orphanage,25student and teacher working visits to the institution in Guatemala and broader developmenteducation agenda within the wider community. This account was constructed on the basis ofthe personal accounts of five individuals that contribute various perspectives on the centralevents that have taken place over the last decade and a half. Through this glimpse at thehistory of the program it is possible to construct an account of the educational goals, schoolculture and institutional dynamics that have shaped the nature of the students’ experienceand perceptions. In short, the history provides the context for understanding how thesubjects in this study perceive their individual and collective roles in supportingtheadvocacy perspective promoted by the Casa Guatemala Project and the expectations theyplace on the experience.Chapter Four introduces the personal background, entry characteristics and initialperceptions of each of the subjects in the study. It begins with an overview of the selectionprocess implemented in the fall of 1992 to recruit the 1993 student travel contingent fromthe three participating secondary schools. From this point the chapter explores thesubstance and differences in the students’ preparation for the tour carried out at the varioushigh schools. The central task of this chapter is then one of constructing a composite pictureof the students’ knowledge, values and perceptions in relation to the research questionsoutlined in Section 1.4. The descriptions were based on the students’ responses to semi-structured interviews, application documents and entries in their journals. The resultingcharacter portraits display the substance of the subjects understandings prior to theirdeparture for Guatemala, revealing common trends and factors shaping their perspective onthe Casa Guatemala Project.Chapter Five represents the heart of this study. In essence, it presents the students’cognitive, perceptual and emotional journey through Guatemala and their response to thelessons of the experience when they returned home. The chapter documents the specific26events that were seen by the subjects as crucial to the alteration of their knowledge, valuesand perceptions about life in Guatemala and Canada. Of importance here are instances whichstimulated the greatest sense of dilemma and conflict around their prior understanding of therelationship between the “First” and “Third World”. It also outlines the changing nature ofgroup dynamics and student discourse. From this glimpse into their changing worldview itis possible to identify the specific dimensions of perspective transformation that occurredfor this sample of young adults.The final chapter takes a look at the implications of the findings for the application ofexperiential cross-cultural learning theory in programs like the Casa Guatemala Project.Of particular importance are the constructs of conflict, selective perception, and groupdiscourse as integral aspects of the learning experience. Using these constructs the analysisexposes the need for structured student preparation and debriefing exercises at differentphases in cross-cultural experiential education programs. A brief summary of the changesthat occurred in the students’ knowledge, values and perceptions is provided with anemphasis given to the development of their sense of alienation from their own culture. Thechapter also assesses the importance of the findings for the larger body of literature andresearch within experiential learning.27Chapter Two: Literature Review2.1 IntroductionThe implementation of experiential programs in secondary educational institutions is ahighly problematic and controversial task. Yet, advocates of such programs continue topress for incorporation within a broad range of subject areas, most frequently in physical,science and social studies education. Common to many of these diverse projects is anappreciation of the potential of experiential approaches to transform student learning.Students exposed to experiential learning face problems and the consequences of their actionsin a manner fundamentally different from “traditional” classroom formats. Through directparticipation in community service projects, cross cultural homestays, outdoor adventureprograms, and internships, students enrich their understanding of themselves and others aspart of the social matrix which contributes to the construction of power relations from localto global scales. In these situations students may develop a stronger sense of their ownrelationship to social structures, norms and institutions and take the first steps towards thedevelopment of a disposition of involvement coupled with an enriched critical awareness ofissues (Wigginton, 1989).Learning in the context of social and political action carries with it an approach toeducation with enormous potential and relevance to students. In order to develop a richerunderstanding of such programs, there is a need to investigate the impact of experientialcurriculum on students’ changing perceptions of themselves and the world which surroundsthem. What are the contextual factors that enhance constructive student discourse andperceptual modification as a result of their participation in such programs? What is likelyto be the substance and direction of perspective transformation taking place as a result of thestudents’ participation in various kinds of experiential programs? What are the28implications of such findings on the future direction of school curriculum, structure andeducational research?Selecting a relevant body of literature to address the research problem in this studyis not a straightforward task. This difficulty is due to the fact that the educational format ofthe Casa Guatemala Project is, in itself, multifaceted. It is possible to characterize theprinciples of the project as community-service, cross-cultural learning, global citizenshipor experiential education. In truth, the learning experience structured by the CasaGuatemala program reflects important elements contained in all of these educationalorientations.2.2 Sources of LiteratureThe literature used to construct this review was identified between February of 1992 andJanuary of 1994, using a wide variety of search methods. On-line and manual searcheswere carried out using the University of British Columbia library catalogues. Searches ofERIC on CD-ROM were utilized, combining a variety of descriptors that included:experiential education, global education, global approach, student action, communityparticipation, community service, environmental action and community action. Articleswere also obtained through references given by fellow students and several professors at theUniversity. Finally, “snowballing” of article bibliographies provided several pertinentstudies. Conrad’s (1991) review of research was the most fruitful source for discovering arelevant body of literature. This meta-analysis of the research includes the findings oftwenty-seven different studies on community-based, experiential programs withinsecondary schools and university undergraduate programs in the United States. While a fewdoctoral dissertations were presented in abstract form in reference journals and previouslylocated articles, none of these were obtained for this review due to financial constraints.29Studies included in this review were selected on the basis of the specific insights thatcould be gleaned regarding the relationship between various instructional approaches anddesired learning outcomes in experiential education. Of particular interest were studies thatreferred to the impact of experiential programs on the students’ perceptions of events. Thatis to say, articles and research papers were identified which presented conclusionssurrounding the a priori claims in the research so that these could be checked against thefindings of the author’s own analysis of the students self-reports. The attempt was also madeto focus on those pieces of research carried out in the last twenty years. This was done tokeep the debate current and relevant to recent trends in the writing on global education, ascontained within the broader nexus of social studies curriculum. The vast majority ofresearch and literature on experiential or “participatory” curriculum comes from fivemain sources.1 The relevant sources of literature for this study are categorized as: a)experiential learning, b) citizenship education, C) environmental education, d) globaleducation, and e) cross-cultural learning.2.3 Experiential LearningThe attempt to explain and clarify the unique nature of experiential learning has developedinto a complex and ongoing debate. Earlier attempts to reconcile this issue focused onexplaining the differences in reference to the structure of the learning sequence between“traditional” and experiential modes of instruction. Coleman (1976), Hamilton (1980) andGager (1982) suggested that the instructional strategy used for concept and principle1 The phrase “participatory” is identified by Conrad (1991, p.540) as one of many such termspresent in the literature on citizenship education relating to experiential learning. He alsoidentifies that the terminology commonly used in the literature typically reflects the focalfeatures of any given program. Hence, these are often described as volunteer service,community study, community projects, internships, and sociopolitical action.30development is fundamentally reversed in experiential education. This is based on the notionthat typical classroom teaching begins with the transfer of ideas using a symbolic mediumsuch as a lecture, textbook or video. In essence, students are asked to develop anunderstanding of concepts and principles in an atmosphere of complete abstraction withlittle relevance and application to their lived experience. These authors claim that inexperiential education the sequence is altered so that learning begins with actions taken in“real” or concrete contexts. This allows individuals to apply the memory of theirexperience, through guided reflection, to construct more grounded understandings of thefoundational principles and concepts which structure their awareness (Hutton, 1989:p.57).Several critics argue that this account does not capture the fundamental dynamics ofexperiential learning. They have focused on the notion that all communication, regardless ofcontext or sequence of presentation, is a symbolic gesture because it involves the use andexchange of language in a social context. It is social interaction which gives meaning to allexperience (Mezirow, 1991; Wildemeersch, 1989; Habermas, 1987). Therefore, theactual staging of the learning sequence is of secondary importance as a distinguishing featureof experiential learning. What is central to this refined definition is the actual nature of theexperience and the dialogue that ensues from it, that is to say, the kind of actions that oneengages in and the specific qualities of reflections generated by such encounters. Mezirow(1991) describes these as content, process and premise reflections. Critical in this regardis the role played by conflict and dilemma as the underlying agent of schematic andperspective transformation (Mezirow, 1991: p.168; Kolb, 1984: pp.29-31).Experiential learning is distinguished by the notion that individuals are intentionally placedin situations which jar their entrenched perceptions of reality and awareness. KoIb (1984)encapsulates this sentiment in the following comment:31I move through my daily round of tasks and meetings with a fair sense of whatthe issues are, of what other are saying and thinking, and what actions to take.Yet, I am occasionally upended by unforseen circumstances, miscommunications,and dreadful miscalculations. It is in this interplay between expectation andexperience that learning occurs. In Hegel’s phrase, “Any experience that doesnot violate expectation is not worthy of the name experience.” And yet somehow,the rents that these violations cause in the fabric of my experience are magicallyrepaired, and I face the next day a bit changed but still the same person. (p.24)Wildemeersch (1989: pp.63-64) describes this same learning dynamic as arupture in one’s “life-world”. There is a parallel between what these various authorsdescribe as the pivotal role played by conflict and dilemma in experiential learning, and theaccount in the previous chapter of the students’ reaction to the events which unfolded at theCamino Real. When the instance of disjuncture occurs an individual is forced to reconsideror reconstitute the meaning of the events that have taken place. This process of coming to anunderstanding of the implications of events begins with independent reactions and reflectionbut is eventually negotiated and validated through communicative action or dialogue withothers. This is what Mezirow (1991: pp.65-66) describes as “validity testing”.Experiential learning, within this postulation is seen primarily as a social act. PauloFreire states this eloquently:Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, butonly by true words, with which men transform the world. To exist, humanly,is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappearsto the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Men are notbuilt in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.But while to say the true word - which is work, which is praxis - is totransform the world, saying that word is not the privilege of some few men,but the right of every man. Consequently no one can say a true word alone - norcan he say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words.(quoted in KoIb, 1984: p.30)Hence, experiential learning is best viewed as a dialectical phenomenon where knowledge,beliefs and the larger perspectives shaping our interpretation of events are constantly beingtransformed through rational discourse. Furthermore, it becomes intentional when the32social, emotional and physical context are structured by educators to generate instances ofperceptual disjuncture which demand reflective action.Experiential education programs have been implemented for a variety of reasons andfrom a range of vastly different points of advocacy which affect the ideological emphasisplaced on them. Weil and McGill (1989) have categorized these divergent rationales intofour “villages” to explain the foundational basis of different programs. The first villagefocuses on the institutional accreditation of past work or life experience that demonstratesthe achievement of specific learning outcomes, the second village looks at experientiallearning as a pedagogical choice capable of changing the structure of education towards a“learner-centered” or “learner-controlled” environment, the third village is concernedwith broader issues that involve social action and change, and the fourth village places theemphasis on personal growth and development through greater self-awareness and groupeffectiveness (p.3). This framework, which identifies the principal orientations towardsexperiential education, illuminates the various perspectives embedded in research on thetopic. With this in mind, a number of studies are analyzed here that help to demonstrate thenature and implication of the findings on high school and undergraduate experientialprograms.A significant number of studies promote action based curriculum simply on the basisof a dedication to improving the quality of the learning and instruction. While affinity forthis intent may stem from several of the “villages” identified above, research within thefield often downplays subject affiliations in favour of investigating ways of improving thepractice of experiential education for the sake of the learner. It is apparent from thisrevisitation to the roots of experiential practice that the authors realize the challenges andpitfalls awaiting reconciliation in the research. As a result, the emphasis of research isplaced on the creation of a sound theoretical and methodological base that will enrich the33possibilities for successful implementation of experiential education in an institutionalculture which has traditionally resisted the incursion of such programs.KoIb (1984) provided one of the most comprehensive and, hence, one of the mostquoted studies on experiential learning. Drawing on the earlier works of Dewey, Lewin andPiaget, he proposed an integrated model for experiential learning. In a fashion similar toGager (1982), KoIb (1984: p.42) suggests that experiential learning involves a series ofdistinct phases beginning with a concrete experience which stimulates apprehension andstructures one’s reflective observations. This is followed by a period of abstractconceptualization where the meaning and ramifications of events are reconstituted andextended in light of past experience. At this point the individual is capable of drawingtogether larger generalizations which are in turn transformed, acted upon and tested. Thiscycle of learning is continuous. For this reason KoIb is highly critical of researchmethodology which posits the experience as a series of distinctive and terminal outcomes(p.26). While KoIb has clearly articulated the structure and process of experientiallearning, his main preoccupation within this framework is with individual subjectivity andlearning styles, as well as person-environment transactions (Wildemeersch, 1989: p.65).There is very little consideration of the social and linguistic construction of knowledge andperception which are so essential to theorists such as Habermas and Mezirow.Models of experiential education are comforting in one respect, but seldom relate tothe complexity of implementation or practice. To understand the implications ofexperiential education we need to penetrate the depth and breadth of the possible impactswhich these programs have on students and institutions. Conrad and Hedin (1982)undertook one the most extensive studies on these questions to date. Their study of thirtyexperiential learning programs included community service, career internships,community study, political action and adventure [outdoor] education. They report34discovering significant overall improvements in the students’ social, psychological andintellectual development; categories they have maintained in more recent research as well.Indicators of self esteem and moral reasoning consistently demonstrated the strongestpositive correlation to students’ psychological development. Their analysis of socialdevelopment revealed positive improvements in the students’ attitudes towards adults andothers, response to community action and inclination towards future involvement and careerexploration. Results from the application of the Social and Personal Responsibility Scale(SPRS) indicated changes in student perceptions of their competency, efficacy and duty, toact in ways that could positively effect the community. Of particular importance was theassertion that behavioural change precedes attitudinal change. In the area of intellectualdevelopment, problem solving inventories were utilized demonstrating progress in bothcomplexity and empathy of thought. One of the more significant findings came with theidentification that seventy-three percent of students reported they learned “more” (41%)and “much more” (32%) from their participation in experiential programs. The vaguenessof such responses makes them difficult to interpret. However, the consistency of thesestatements testifies to the perceived relevance and preference to students of experientialprograms over regular classroom instruction. If motivation and enjoyment, alone, werelegitimate educational criteria for justifying program implementation then research inexperiential education would need go no further. This study also gives credence to the notionthat individuals experience these types of programs idiosyncratically, with greaterrelevance felt by those students who perceived that the situations were relevant and theywere being appreciated for their work.Serow (1991) shifts the emphasis from learning outcomes to initial motivation forparticipation. In a combined survey and interview study (N=42) which looked at thevarious explanations given for involvement by community service participants (CSP’s),35Serow found that the subjects were motivated by a “norm of personal assistance” more thanby broader social commitments. That is to say, the students in the research sample actedupon a code of personal ethics rather than for ideological reasons. Eighty percent of theCSP’s mentioned that the sense of personal satisfaction derived from helping others was theprime reason behind their involvement in community service projects. The other mostfrequently reported factors included attraction to the work (36%), acquiring career skills(42%), meeting people (49%), duty to correct societal problems (54%) and involvementin clubs, activity or a class (56%). The predominance of this norm of personal assistanceover broader sociopolitical goals was reinforced by comparing the value patterns of CSP’swith a subsample of nonparticipants. CSP’s placed less importance on family values andmore on assistance to others than non-participants. Of the rated values, working for socialjustice/equality and peace/reconciliation remained the lowest ranked. It is not clear thatSerow’s categorizations of responses are, or need be mutually exclusive from one another asthey refer to highly complex, and inter-related constructs. The importance of this study,however, centres on the proposal that students are motivated less by sophisticated politicalideological principles and more by a general “spirit of helpfulness”. Stated another way, itwould suggest that students view such work, not from a refined or well articulated sense ofefficacy or agency, but from a more limited moral perspective.There is still another side to the understanding of student action programs which thebatteries of quantitative measures for testing learning outcomes only touch on tangentially.Few applied studies in experiential education explore the demands that implementationbrings to school culture and conversely, how the institutional norms and structures shapethe experiential learning process for students and teachers. Tyler (1982), as well asNathan and Kielsmeier (1991), have scratched the surface of potential answers to thesequestions. Indeed, Nathan and Kielsmeier have called experiential education, “The sleeping36giant of school reform”. They recommend that institutions drastically alter the way theyview young people, in order to combat the deeply entrenched perceptions of alienation andinadequacy in relationships with the “adult” community. From the perspective of Nathan andKielsmeier, dismantling the institutional structures of formal education is every bit asimportant as generating desired learning outcomes and behavioural goals. Their recipe forchange is a fundamental one: to construct a pedagogy which values students as resourceful andproductive individuals. The dominant perspective, which sees students as potentialproblems to be “fixed” with remedial programs, must be replaced by one which directlyintegrates them in the local community, thereby enhancing their feelings of responsibilityand belonging. This requires that the local school site be given the mandate to developprograms which foster community integration and sociopolitical action. While the requisitechange of philosophy is obvious in this paper, it is less clear how the schools are toimplement these programs, given the resistance of school culture.Conrad and Hedin (1991) provide a summary of the research and findings onexperiential community service programs. They emphasize that the great majority ofresearch has been geared towards the analysis of teaching methods capable of changingstudent behaviours and attitudes, followed closely by studies on the implications ofexperiential programs for institutional reform. They identify gaps in our understanding ofthe impact of experiential programs resulting from the choice of research methodology:Sometimes the rigid reliance on paper-and-pencil tests can obscure the mostobvious and meaningful data of all. In an inquiry into the impact of service onsocial responsibility, for example, the fact that participants are willingly andconsistently acting in a socially responsible manner...is at least as relevant tothe issue as how they score on a test of attitudes about being socially responsible.The spontaneous comments of participants in interviews and in journals are arich source of qualitative data, revealing not only the general effect of a serviceexperience but its particular and peculiar impact on each individual.(p.748)Second, Conrad and Hedin recognize the seeming inability of quantitative methodologies to get37at clear causal connections between this highly irregular and varied strategy and its impacton students, schools and communities. The quantitative methods they suggest would improveour understandings.Rothchild (1982) analyzed the impact of an education structured in a context ofsociopolitical action in her historical study of the Mississippi Freedom Schools whichoperated between 1962 and 1964. This study emphasizes the importance of trainingstudents in direct political action and the pursuit of social justice. Rothchild’s argues thatexperiential programs increase the relevance and personal impact of education when thecurriculum is applied to critical social issues that demand student involvement, action andreflection. As her description of the Hattiesburg Freedom School, volunteer trainingseminar indicates:The issue was not, after all, small or “academic,” for everyone knew it wasa fact that people had lost their lives in Mississippi for movement work andthat it was a possibility that people would continue to lose their lives “simply”trying to get into the southern political system. Seminars such as this, withheated debates on topics clearly relevant to real people’s lives, helped thevolunteers examine major issues in the movement and bring back to theirstudents a new awareness of the facts of the black experience and the variousinterpretations that could be ascribed to these facts. Additionally, thevolunteers often came to question their “ivory tower” academic beliefs of“value-free scholarship” and “objectivity,” and to formulate alternativevisions of whal constituted “real” education for their students and themselves.(pp.408-409)Thus experience in social activism was responsible for a qualitative leap in the volunteers’understanding of the issues faced by black Americans involved in the civil rights movement.The Freedom Schools attempted to make fundamental changes in the social, economicand political condition of black Americans in Mississippi. This program involved theparticipation of a diverse cross-section of northern college students working with blackteenagers from Mississippi high schools. The educational activities in the Freedom Schoolsincluded: a) basic literacy and political education of the students and their families, and b)38the mobilization of students to work as community activists campaigning for the registrationof legally eligible black voters. Working with the basic premise that all education ispolitical, Charlie Cobb and the Freedom School Volunteers focused their instructionalactivities on improving the dignity, self-concept and self-esteem of the students, as well asunderstanding their own history and roots of oppression. To do this the high school studentswere engaged in various unprecedented responsibilities, such as training as communityliteracy tutors for their peers, parents and other adults. The critical message emergingfrom this study is not the success or failure of this particular manifestation of the civil-rights movement, but the educational success of a pedagogy of action.The overall direction of research into experiential education continues to take onhighly divergent and controversial orientations. Authors like Wildemeersch (1989: pp.66-68) warn us about the present incursion of prescriptions which are overtly “individualist”and TMinstrumentalist” in nature, where the recipients of experiential programs are viewedas efficient consumers of an educational product. This is a critical point because thisorientation denies the centrality of social communication and dialogue in experientiallearning. It is precisely the dynamics of conversation, the ownership of language and theconsensual construction of perception and understanding which play such a large role in thetheory of transformative learning for writers such as Freire, Habermas and Mezirow. Theremainder of this chapter focuses on literature and research which looks at the applicationof experiential methodology within specific subject areas. More often than not, authorswithin these curriculum areas are concerned with shaping the attitudinal and behaviouraldispositions of the learner. Whether this equates to a pedagogy of indoctrination is not theissue that will be dealt with here.392.4 Citizenship EducationOver the past several decades a variety of writers interested in enhancing democraticattitudes and behaviours amongst high school youth have developed a considerable body ofresearch on the impact of community-service programs on student learning. These authorstend to see the role of citizenship education as one that enables schools to reproduce andrepair democratic principles. The rise of extreme individualism and relativism are oftencited as the key results of a society which has lost sight of “civic mindedness”, creatinglegions of teenagers who are intensely alienated from mainstream institutions and thepolitical process in general. Upwardly spiraling rates of violent crime, theft, gangmembership, alcoholism and drug abuse are seen as indicators of the growing estrangementof youth from society. What is more striking, perhaps, is the fact that school culture itself,is often implicated in the promotion of deviant behaviour. The role of experientialcurriculum, within the framework of civic education, becomes one of ameliorating the riseof hedonistic and antisocial behaviours that are now deeply embedded in the popular psycheof the teenage population, so as to replace them with values and actions more compatible withmaintenance of a democratic society. This goal requires that youth are both trained tounderstand and value legal and democratic institutions. Community service has become themain vehicle to establish this envelope of personal relevance and this is constructed throughdirect engagement in the political process at the local level.Parker (1989) and Clark (1990) see the mission of school-communityparticipation as one that reconstructs the “social compact” and “civic virtue” amongst youth.They focus their criticism on the prevalence of poor social studies teaching methods andrigidly traditional school culture for the creation of the attitudinal and behavioral distancefrom democratic values. The prevalence of passive seatwork, focus on individualachievement, defensive teaching methods, avoidance of controversial issues and40departmentalization in high schools have all contributed to the failure of social studies toconstruct the necessary civic culture. Direct involvement and participation of the studentsin community projects represents one model for learning capable of rebuilding the students’confidence and attachment to democratic institutions. This in turn moves them towards acommunity of shared values and common goals, so as to combat the popular “crisis of civiclife”.Just how this transfer towards civic virtue is manifest in their model ofexperiential education is left largely unexplained. The student is effectively plugged in andcharges up on a strong dose of good will and concern for the community through participationin the local political process. The strongest evidence mustered in defense of this propositionis the example of one Hispanic-American named Pedro who, through his participation in aschool sponsored, community-service program, has come to encompass and reflect all thefundamental traits of civic mindedness in his latest achievements. Pedro represents theethnic youth offender made good, reaffirming the belief in the mythology of the “Americandream”. Yet, on one plane, these two authors have keyed in on a significant aspect ofexperiential curriculum. Participatory programs can create a stronger sense of relevancefor the students which motivates them in a manner which traditional classroom instructioncannot. This is what Gager (1982) refers to as the presence of “intrinsic motivation”within the structure of experiential programs.Massialas (1990) illuminates another justification for community servicecurriculum within the realm of citizenship education. Youth alienation, in his opinion, isdue to the lack of emphasis on the development and assimilation of appropriate decisionmaking skills which has resulted in the rise of “anti-democratic” behaviour. He suggeststhat by using the school as a laboratory for broader society, secondary schools and socialstudies classrooms in particular can reverse the trend towards individualism by41operationalizing democratic principles and practices within all aspects of the formalinstitution. This is accomplished by training youth to value “fairness” through practice inthe democratic process. Massialas also emphasizes the need to extend these activitiesdirectly into the arena of local government where the potential exists for apprenticeship insociopolitical action. In this setting the students will be forced to grapple with theresponsibilities of decision-making, enhancing their sense of political efficacy anddeveloping a stronger sense of affiliation with the institutional process. To promote theseobjectives, schools must alter the norms and structures of “business as usual,” andencapsulate democratic principles in daily operations and instruction.While Massialas has identified that involvement in experiential programs holds thepotential of developing one’s sense of personal efficacy, his understanding of the causes ofyouth alienation is grounded in a perspective resembling that of victim blaming. Second, tosuggest that the sudden infusion of conflict resolution and decision-making skills is theharbinger of a revolution in adolescent behaviour, stretches the parameters of possibility.However, the blatant and overpowering contradiction of preaching adherence to democraticprinciples within a school culture which is largely anti-democratic in nature is animportant element in the critique of contemporary education. Community service programsare properly conceived, within this critique, as part of a broader movement for schoolreform. What is of value in this appraisal of community service curriculum is the notionthat direct involvement in local politics provides the students with one manner ofopportunity to dismantle the level of conceptual abstraction and skill achievement necessaryto participate effectively in public life. It allows students to make sense of the powerstructures and institutional operations that affect their lives, while developing a sense ofpolitical efficacy and critical understanding of an otherwise highly complex bureaucraticenvironment.42The theme of building on the students’ confidence and competence, so that they canparticipate effectively in civic life, has been refined by Newmann (1989). Central toNewmann’s proposal is the need for student empowerment accompanied by systematictraining in critical and reflective thinking. While retaining the rhetoric and slogan systemspresent in much of the citizenship literature, there is a deliberate attempt here to shift theemphasis of experiential curriculum towards task specific student achievement. In thiscase, the orientation is one of creating an environment focused on the exercise of “authenticdiscourse.” By this, Newmann is referring to the process of developing the students’communication skills through dialogue emphasizing and giving value to the incorporation oftheir knowledge, beliefs and needs within institutional culture. The notion that experientialcurriculum should build on and give merit to the status of the student’s understanding,abilities, and sense of priorities, represents a significant departure from traditionaltransmission pedagogy which simply promotes the assimilation of externally predeterminedknowledge, values and perceptions.Analyzing the findings of their research on community service programs in highschools throughout the United States, Rutter and Newmann (1989) reported some verysignificant trends which shed light on the critical aspects of learning that emerges from theapplication of experiential modes of citizenship education with young adults. Their studyreports that involvement in community service programs has had significant impact onstudents’ personal development and little if any effect on their sense of civic responsibility.It appears that the pursuit and development of productive social relationships, whichprovides a sense of accomplishment through problem resolution, is the most stronglydocumented outcome. This tendency overshadows the acquisition of skills and knowledge,community awareness and involvement, career exploration and vocational experience.Second, this same sample of the students reported community service programs as the43context that promoted personal and social development opportunities more than any other.The discovery that community service programs have little or no effect on thestudents’ sense of social responsibility or ethical development is significant for it parallelsthe findings of Serow (1991). Rutter and Newmann attempt to account for this finding,suggesting that the emphasis on individual rather than public experience predisposes thestudents to perceive of their achievements in personal rather than broader ethical orsocietal terms. Their suggested response to the implications of these findings, however, isquestionable. They reiterate the common declaration for the need to refocus curriculum sothat civic virtue returns to the spotlight of intention through the selection of programswhich embody critical social needs. In short, greater emphasis on the public good ratherthan personal and social development would create greater civic responsibility. While allthis may be possible, Rutter and Newmann have failed to acknowledge possible rivalinterpretations rising from this data. One of the most damaging notions for citizenshipeducation is the suggestion that high-minded civic virtues are of little relevance to highschool students and, more importantly, that students’ motives and aspirations forinvolvement are more closely tied to immediate concerns for personal, social andpsychological development. Their response should not be the rehashed attempt to bury thedesire for personal growth under another blanket of civic indoctrination. Instead, Rutterand Newmann would do better to recognize these trends as part of a dialectical learningprocess that may only posit the need for the consideration of civic virtue in later phases ofadulthood. Investigating the relationship between the teenager’s need for personal growthand the emergence of broader social values may be a more appropriate avenue of inquirystemming from such findings.One of the main thrusts in citizenship education over the past several decades hasbeen the attempt to devise programs capable of dealing with youth alienation. This44phenomenon has largely been described in terms of antisocial behaviours. From ananalytical perspective, alienation is most often perceived as a psychological or attitudinaldisorder to be cured through short term programs that attempt to develop the studentsaffinity to their peers, adults, community and public institutions. This is precisely theperspective which framed a study on youth alienation by Calabrese and Schumer (1986).Their research focused specifically on several indicators of alienation within a sample ofgrade nine students involved in the development of a community project over a ten to twentyweek period. The experimental group in this study demonstrated a significant decrease inlevels of alienation and feelings of isolation compared to the control and limited treatmentgroup as indicated on the Dean Alienation Scale. Also reported were reduced instances ofdiscipline problems and improved attendance during and immediately following thetreatment. Modest gains were reported on grade point averages. Despite the loss oftraditional academic learning time, staff and community contacts interviewed after the studyindicated improved relationships with the students. However, longitudinal observationsindicated that these findings lasted only as long as the program was in existence. This rapiddecline appears to be a trend indicated in most quantitative studies that are geared towardsattitudinal and behavioural adjustment treatments.Calabrese and Schumer’s study is only one example of the prevailing attitude towardsyouth alienation in the citizenship literature. Manifestations of youth alienation are almostnever conceived of as a product of healthy and critical minds reacting from experience andwith provocation to a deranged society. Facets of youth alienation, if dealt with in a moreconstructive and progressive framework, can be viewed as a normal and even desirableresponse to the constant cycle of personal dilemmas that teenagers learn to cope with as theynegotiate their entry into the highly complex political, economic, social, vocational andsexual relationships of adulthood.45Perhaps the most inclusive analysis of community service programs is provided byConrad (1991). In his review of research, which encompasses twenty-seven quantitativestudies over the last four decades, Conrad suggests that the evidence reflects strong andcontinuous support in relation to the positive impact of action-based programming onstudents’ social, psychological and cognitive development. Contrary to Rutter and Newmann,Conrad focuses on a consistent body of research evidence describing a heightened sense ofsocial responsibility growing out of community service programs amongst teenage students.On the down side, this study reports no appreciable support for increases in broad-basedknowledge as reflected in scores on standardized tests, nor do any studies suggest lastingimpact on the likelihood of later participation in civic affairs or on the students’ sense ofpolitical efficacy. Some specifics of this study are worth summarizing because theyhighlight the breadth of research foci that have been explored recently within this paradigm.In terms of social development, Conrad found that several studies demonstratedsignificant improvements in youth associations with adults, more favourable attitudestowards adults, more positive attitudes towards others, ability to work with others,increases in their sense of responsibility, as well as heightened ability to performmanagement and leadership skills. In the realm of psychological development the studiesshowed gains in self-esteem, moral and ego development, lower levels of youth alienation andfeelings of isolation. Finally, in reference to academic learning and intellectualdevelopment, there appears to be positive support for improvements in thinking andperceptual processes in terms of open-mindedness, more complex patterns of analysis,ability to articulate ideas, weigh arguments, personal values reflection, autonomy inthinking and decision making. Enrichment of general factual knowledge from experientialprograms seems to have produced the weakest results.The trends present in the research findings on community service programs are46important to the analysis of student perceptions in the Casa Guatemala Project because theybring to light several critical themes that might be present in the subjects’ emergingdialogue throughout different phases of their involvement. Of particular importance is thenotion that the students may be initially motivated to participate, not from a complex ethicalviewpoint, but from a more general perspective reflecting more immediate personal needs.Furthermore, these needs may reflect the desire to establish alternate social relationshipsor new insights on their present/future circumstances in life, neither of which arenecessarily generated by a sophisticated worldview or humanitarian perspective. It wouldbe advantageous to identify circumstances where these personal needs and the ethicalprinciples are linked and explored within the framework of the experience. In which case,the subjects in this study may demonstrate a progression towards the internalization of astronger ethical grounding for their actions as the events of the journey unfold.2.5 Environmental EducationThe rising acknowledgement of the need to train students to take action on environmentalissues has brought forth a great deal of interest in the application of experientialcurriculum within the secondary science curriculum. Indeed, very few disciplines haveinvestigated variables supporting changes in behaviour and attitudes as thoroughly as theeducators in the physical sciences. To date, the most impressive quasi-experimentalresearch on experiential approaches comes from advocates of environmental education. In amanner strikingly similar to that found in citizenship education, the driving motivationbehind the research in environmental studies focuses on the desire to establish lifelongbehaviours and attitudes within each individual as the beacon of broader socialtransformation. Indeed, the literature on environmental education borrows much of itsjargon and justification for experiential instruction from literature in citizenship47education. While advocates from both disciplines of study seek to enhance the individual’sfamiliarity and appreciation of democratic institutions, environmental education placesmore emphasis on training students to take active roles in challenging the prevailing societalnorms and structures that damage natural ecosystems and ultimately threaten our own wellbeing. Understanding and utilizing democratic institutions is seen as the vehicle for reformand not as an end in itself.What distinguishes this body of research is the fact that proponents of environmentaleducation have more thoroughly investigated the direct relationship between variousinstructional treatments as independent variables of responsible environmental behaviour.Ramsey, Hungerford and Tomera (1982) explored the differences in environmentalknowledge and behaviours between control, case-study investigation and sociopolitical actiontraining groups within a sample of grade eight students. Focusing on six differentoperational categories they found that the groups receiving action training demonstrated asignificantly greater ability to identify specific action skills, knowledge of issues, as well asexhibiting more frequent and overt examples of environmental behaviour than either thecase-study investigation or control groups. It is also important to point out that overtenvironmental behaviour declined after instruction in all groups with relative meansremaining the same.An analysis of similar instructional relationships was carried out in an informalsetting using a six day residential workshop for high school students. In this study Jordan,Hungerford and Tomera (1986) clearly demonstrated that awareness of issues by studentsprecedes the progression towards application of remedial action measures. They alsostipulate that basic awareness of issues does not necessarily lead to action. Instructionwhich develops the student’s comprehension and application of action skills is firstnecessary to achieve changes in overt environmental behaviour. They also point out that48many students coming to the workshop were unaware of many of the action strategies open tothem in society. While camp situations traditionally focus on environmental awareness,this study supports the idea that action training can be implemented with success and ingreater accordance with the aims of environmental awareness to achieve preservation andconservation of ecosystems through citizen action.Extending this comparative analysis of action and awareness methodologies, Ramsey,Hungerford and Tomera (1987) evaluated the effects of two environmental workshops onhigh school students. A six day residential program was used to observe changes inknowledge of environmental issues and action strategies among six different instructionalgroups. Categories of instruction for environmental action included ecomanagement,persuasion, consumerism, organizational membership, political action and legal action.Post-test scores revealed significantly greater knowledge of action strategies and issuesawareness in favour of the action instruction groups. A follow-up assessment of instances ofenvironmental action confirmed that participants in action instruction groups reportedtaking a greater number of actions following the workshop. Once again they claim that issueawareness instruction is insufficient as a means to promote knowledge of environmentalaction strategies and in promoting overt behaviour modifications.The strength of findings in earlier studies allowed Ramsey and Hungerford (1989) todevelop and refine an issue investigation and action training module (IIAT) for implementation and testing in middle schools. Their study assessed the ability of the IIAT teachingmodule to improve the environmental behaviors of four intact treatment classes of gradeseven students compared to four control classes. They further investigated the impact of theprogram on related environmental beliefs, values, individual and group locus of control,sensitivity, knowledge of and skills in action strategies, as well as knowledge of ecologicalconcepts. Post-test analysis of variance revealed statistically significant gains in favour of49the treatment groups on all variables except for environmental sensitivity. It is suggestedthat knowledge and skills regarding environmental behaviour are more easily developed inthe short term and that affective objectives (i.e., sensitivity) require longitudinal andcumulative improvement which are directly related to experiences in field trip or outdooreducation programs.Challenging the implications of the findings from the main body of research intoenvironmental action instruction, Monroe and Kaplan (1988) suggest that issue awarenessand problem solving strategies are more effectively taught in the classroom setting. Fromthe results of a survey of fifty-one Michigan teachers, they report that action training canindeed contribute to the enhancement of problem solving skills and issue awareness,however, they are also quick to point out that participation in experiential projects mayactually end up discouraging students from future involvement in environmental action. Insupport of their arguments they focus on several structural constraints within the cultureand norms of secondary schools which diminish the probability that action-basedcurriculum can be implemented successfully. Their list of factors includes: resistance toleaving school property, brevity of instructional periods, limited preparation time,shortage of instructional support and curriculum guidelines, as well as limitations in thestudents’ prerequisite knowledge and skills. That successful implementation requires highlydedicated and trained teachers is also borne out in the results of this survey. The gist ofthese findings may come as no surprise to those already experienced in action-basedprogramming: Monroe and Kaplan reiterate many of the logistical pitfalls that coincide withexperiential education and the structural hurdles that need to be considered in order toestablish the conditions for successful and meaningful learning.Hines, Hungerford and Tomera (1987) went beyond the analysis of instructionalstrategies best suited to establishing responsible environmental behaviour. They focused,50instead, on the identification of cognitive, demographic and psycho-social variables mostinfluential in motivating students to take action. Their meta-analysis of environmentaleducation research suggests that student action is a holistic response involving theinteraction of several key variables that include: being cognizant of specific problems,having knowledge of action strategies, knowing which options are most appropriate to thedynamics of the issue, skill in the application of action strategies to a given problem and,ultimately, the desire to act on an issue. This last variable combines attributes such as aninternal locus of control (i.e., an individual’s sense of agency), attitudinal dispositions andthe degree of personal responsibility. Finally, situational factors such as economicconstraints, social pressures and the opportunity to choose from different actions have beenidentified as crucial components in strengthening the variables stated above. It isinteresting to note that demographic variables such as age, income, education and genderdemonstrated very weak correlations to responsible behaviour. As a result of their analysisof the research, the authors proposed a model for enhancing responsible environmentalbehaviour which combines the personality, cognitive and demographic factors that are foundto be most responsible for shaping the learning process. They have stressed that personalitycharacteristics (i.e., open-mindedness and empathy), while hard to address using thiseducational format and research methodology, are crucial to the success of action trainingprojects. This study is invaluable because it goes beyond the identification of applicableeducational rationales and instructional variables, to explore both the student and socialcharacteristics affecting the learning process. In doing so, this meta-analysis establishes aframework for refining future quantitative and qualitative research into the specific intrapersonal dynamics which support productive learning in experiential programs.While the environmental education studies on community action programs havegenerated greater insights into important variables of instructional technique, student51characteristics and structural constraints, there are still significant gaps in the breadth ofthis research that need to be addressed. First, the focus of action behaviour research hasalmost always been placed on the individual acting in isolation of group or collective socialdynamics. Student interaction, cooperation and interpersonal relationships must have asignificant impact on the success of these projects and, yet, these dynamics have not receivedsufficient treatment in the studies carried out to date. This is all the more surprisingknowing that the extension of organizational and communication skills are essentialcomponents in the success of political campaigns that address environmental issues.Individual legal, political, consumptive and persuasive acts are important, but only part ofthe collective momentum needed for a movement capable of social transformation. Second,the pre-occupation with behavioural modification in environmental education is seen as ajustification in itself, with almost no analysis of how students receive, digest or make senseof instructional objectives from their own perspectives. The input/output emphasisinherent in this approach to experiential instruction is still founded on learning outcomesdetermined for and not by the student. As a result, this pedagogical disposition perpetuatesthe potential for a serious disjuncture between the goals of educators and the needs andinterests of students. Even with the most noble ethical objectives in mind they still riskfailing to establish a learning environment that builds on a knowledge of student culture inyoung adulthood. Such a perspective on education perpetuates the present trend towardsgreater alienation from institutions and limits student motivation and initiative preciselybecause the substance and source of the crucial components is being determined for them.The implications of the environmental action and behaviour research has relevanceto the study of student perceptions in the Casa Guatemala program for several reasons. Thefindings suggest that when sociopolitical action training is added to the instructional agenda,teenagers respond with greater enthusiasm towards both the subject and method of52instruction. It is not surprising then, to find a range of related terminology commonly usedto describe this phenomenon. The literature is replete with language such as empowerment,active engagement, relevance, apprenticeship and critical pedagogy. There should be nobright-eyed sense of revelation stemming from the fact that when students are taught aboutthe skills and avenues of sociopolitical action in an engaging context, they respond bydemonstrating more substantial understanding, awareness and enthusiasm towards the same.Likewise, if the students’ exposure to sociopolitical action training is limited to a brief, onetime experience during their secondary education then they should not be expected to reflectlong term attitudinal and behavioural changes, even though this might well be the outcome.To add credibility to the claim that the use of experiential modes of instruction is asuccessful means of constructing the knowledge, values and skills necessary for active andinformed citizenship, then educational research needs to shift the focus of its methodologytowards studies that focus on an assessment of the substance of the students’ dialoguesurrounding their involvement in applied experiences. This study of the Casa GuatemalaProject promises to illuminate the changing nature of such discourse as it chronicles theimpact of the experience on students’ perceptions.2.6 Global EducationThe issues dealt with under the rubric of citizenship and environmental education havelargely been subsumed and transformed in various ways within the context of globaleducation. Here, appropriate knowledge, values and behaviours contained in an informedworldview are defined in what is described as the “attainable global perspective” (Hanvey,1982). Proponents of global education have suggested that a wide diversity of content andinstructional methods be incorporated into elementary and secondary schools to promote thedevelopment of a more globally oriented worldview. This has led to confusion in the53conceptual framework of this paradigm. For instance, Hanvey’s (1982) conception of globaleducation includes perspective consciousness, global awareness, knowledge of globaldynamics, cross-cultural awareness and awareness of human choices. Pike and Selby(1986) rework the original framework of global education offered by Hanvey, adoptingsimilar veins of content, but alter the terminology to systems consciousness, perspectiveconsciousness, health of planet awareness, involvement consciousness and preparedness, aswell as process mindedness. To add yet another twist to the already vast array of categoriesproposed for global education, Kniep (1987) reduces the paradigm to a structure of basiccontent prescribed under four headings: a) systems [political, economic, ecological andtechnological], b) issues and problems [development, peace/security, environmental, andhuman rights], c) values and cultures [universal and diverse], and d) global history.The incredible diversity of content that has been conjured up to define globaleducation is more of a reflection of the larger attempt to satisfy the various interest groupsthat have a stake in establishing their turf within the emerging curriculum (Werner,1990; Darling, 1988). The ensuing debate has derailed the attempt to establish globaleducation as a credible discipline of study because of the need to appease the competingagendas of specific interest groups, all of whom seek to impose their own definition on themovement. As Popkowitz (1980) and Werner (1990) point out, global education exists asmore of a “slogan system” of conflicting messages than a systematic, coherent and defensibleapproach to learning. Even with a shared sense of purpose and direction in hand, the state ofresearch surrounding global education is woefully inadequate. Program evaluations havetended to reflect descriptive “show and tell,” type orientations more than a seriousanalytical discourse that challenges advocates to substantiate the host of objectives and54claims set out for global education.2The shift in emphasis from a national to a global perspective is centered around afundamental reorientation of the individual’s worldview. This requires not only that a newset of issues be placed in front of the learner, but also that he/she perceive them inqualitatively different ways. This is why Case (1993) offered the distinction between thesubstantive and perceptual dimensions of a global perspective. He suggests that the “lenses”we use to look at the world are equally, if not more important, than the ever shifting natureof problems or issues that confront us. As Case elaborates:The perceptual dimension, which is the lens for the substantive dimension ismade up of various intellectual values, dispositions and attitudes that distinguish a parochial perspective (i.e., making sense of the world from superficial,narrow, self-absorbed points of view) from a broad-minded perspective (i.e.,making sense of the world from “enlightened” points of view)...The five interrelated elements which I offer as constituents of the perceptual dimension are:open-mindedness, anticipation of complexity, resistance to stereotyping,inclination to empathize, and non-chauvinism. These elements are neitheradditional pieces of information about the world nor what some might refer toas skills--they do not identify what students can do as much as what studentsare disposed to notice and to accept--and they are not the sort of traits that areacquired predominantly through repeated practice, especially if this is performed out of context. (p.320)Case’s point is an important one. If the present justification for global education is to standthen educators and researchers must realize that subject content, in itself, is insufficient asa basis to distinguish it from traditional disciplines of study. There must also be widespreadacceptance of the notion that global education is concerned with shaping specific normativelenses for looking at other cultures and world issues. Furthermore, many programs in thelong run fail to address this perceptual dimension successfully because they deal with it as a“treatment” or skill that can be transferred through repetitive applications, when really2 For examples of articles that exemplify this presentational approach to developing experientialglobal education programs see the following pieces listed in the bibliography: Alger, 1985; Rose,1987; DeKock and Paul, 1989; and Ferguson, 1990.55such meaning perspectives are transformed through more radical dilemmas that requireindividuals to reconsider the very premises upon which their perceptions are formulated.As Mezirow (1991) points out, these instances of perceptual transformation can neither beartificially constructed for the learner, nor are they a predictable phenomenon.There is also a common and critical distinction in the way advocates of globaleducation approach experiential curriculum. There is a deliberate attempt to divert theemphasis placed on individual responsibility and allegiance to the nation state, towards amore universal commitment to issues of social, economic, environmental and politicaljustice (Pike & Selby, 1986). Furthermore, there is an implicit understanding that globaleducation is not simply about teaching students to understand world issues, but to train themto act on the beliefs that grow out of such an understanding. Darling (1988) elaborates onthis notion of training for social activism in greater depth:The belief that understanding must translate into action, has guided the development of global education since the early eighties. Social participation is nowwidely recognized as a central goal and is seen to be at the heart of the globalperspective as well. ..Often the international point of view is emphasized overthe national, and this in itself adds to tensions we saw emerging earlier thiscentury...There is increasing demand for intelligent, enlightened action whichwill lead to a future that benefits the entire earth. Increasingly, emphasis ison universal concerns rather than regional ones, and even these are seen asinextricably bound to the welfare of all. (p.6)National ideologies, as such, are replaced with perspectives that build on a recognition of theinterdependence and interaction of all societies, cultures and regions of the world. This isextended into the demand that students be trained as active participants, both shaping andimplementing solutions to problems within their immediate community (Alger, 1985).The differences between the intent of experiential curriculum in global andcitizenship education were also explored in an article by Schuyler and Schuyler (1989).Their critique of the goals of citizenship education are founded on the notion ofinterdependence; that there are massive contradictions arising from the intent to teach56students about the need for greater equality and political participation in a nationalframework, while ignoring the implicit connections to global systems and relationships. Thepurpose of action training in this framework is not to preserve democracy and the nationstate for its own sake, but rather, to train young adults so that they are eventually capable ofconstructing an intensive critique of society at large and transforming this understandinginto actions aimed at meaningful social change from the scale of the immediate community tothe level of global systems. Within this notion of praxis is an understanding of youthalienation which is far more sophisticated and incredibly less patronizing than is the case inthe literature emanating from the authors of citizenship education. There is a recognition ofthe corporate powers that daily undermine the relevance of the nation state, with all of itsanachronistic ideology, and the need to engage the students’ potential to take action in the faceof these rapidly changing, crisis bound power relationships. In short, experientialeducation in this framework serves the purpose of promoting the students’ criticalawareness of issues, their sense of efficacy and agency and eventually their ability to takepolitical action.Experiential approaches to learning in global education, extend the teacher’s abilityto engage students in the direct exploration of these connections and develop theirwillingness to work towards social transformation (Chronkhite, 1991; Kniep, 1987). Asso much of the content of global education centres on the status and dynamics of pressingworld issues, there is a need to tie the learning of problems to the ability to find solutionsand take action on a local scale (Pike & Selby, 1986). Enhancing the individual’s sense ofefficacy through active engagement in the pursuit of solutions to problems has the effect ofreducing the potential for alienation and powerlessness in the face of oppressive macroscale issues (Tooke, 1988). In his declaration of the need to move the global educationcurriculum beyond the present issue orientation, Werner (1990) states:57Unless learning and action are combined, an analysis of problems can becomelittle more than “ambulance chasing,” leading to cynicism and even despairrather than a deeper grasp of what the problems are, how they came to be, andwhat we individually and collectively can do about them. A sense of personalefficacy, so important to learning, is absent unless young people realize someavenue for agency. (p.5)The goal of training students as activists for social transformation and justice hassignificant implications for classroom practice and school structure by the very nature ofthe instructional dynamics it conjures up. While Rose (1987) has focused on thepossibilities for community integration and the development of decision making ability,others take the ends of a global orientation to student action much farther. Pike and Selby(1986) and Lewis (1990) have recognized that “empowering” students requires thattraditional relationships in the classroom be dramatically altered. They believe thatteachers must assume the role of facilitators, who engage students’ needs and intereststhrough the curriculum rather than determining the entire breadth of the package for them.By enacting this facilitative role, teachers thrust the responsibility for decision making,reactions and the consequences of actions into the hands of students, not only in an individualsense but in a cooperative manner as well. Active engagement in attempts to deal withcommunity problems is the vehicle for promoting this goal. It is accomplished bymotivating the students to immerse themselves directly in the social and politicalmanifestations of the issues, creating more substantial and sophisticated perceptions ofproblems in the process (Pike & Selby, 1986: pp.49-52). Such a curriculum relies muchmore heavily on valuing the serendipity of experience over the acquisition of fixed chunks oftextbook knowledge and is therefore a challenge to school norms and culture. For this reasonalone it has been pointed out that implementation of experiential programs, regardless of thecurricular framework, is often an agenda of school reform (Kniep, 1989; Nathan &Kielsmeier, 1991). This is one of the main reasons why ongoing experiential programs are58so rare in secondary education and research into it even more scarce.Because the organizers of the Casa Guatemala Project have framed the learningexperience within the broader conception of global education they must accept theambiguities that such a framework holds. Even so, this placement is not without its merits.The educational component of the program is designed primarily to take students out of thecomfortable surroundings of their affluent Canadian community for a short period of timeand expose them to life in a radically different political, cultural, geographic, historic andeconomic context. Students’ prior image of Guatemala is shaped by all the perceptualconnotations encompassed in the popular discourse surrounding the “Third World”. Throughthe students’ experience in Guatemala these perceptions are challenged, renegotiated, reapplied and tested.2.7 Cross-Cultural LearningCross-cultural awareness constitutes a significant part of the curriculum in globaleducation, but the roots of research analysis on the subject are not historically tied to it. Infact, it would be more accurate to point out that global education has simply absorbed thetopic of cross-cultural awareness within its framework as a result of its historicalevolution. This relationship is evident even in the earliest works on global education,through the example of publications by authors such as Hanvey (1982). The basicassumption of cross-cultural education is that contact between individuals of differentcultures leads to better understanding and appreciation of the “other”.Contemporary research into cross-cultural education has been promoted for variousreasons and by a variety of different agencies. Study abroad and exchange programs at theuniversity or college undergraduate levels, proliferated in the 1950’s as campuses acrossNorth America attempted to construct a stronger international profile and generate a body of59graduates who were culturally literate in the norms and conventions of other societies andconversant in their languages (Kauffmann et al., 1992). The rationale underlying studyabroad programs has been sound economic reasoning if nothing else, especially when oneconsiders that the ability to communicate, conduct commerce and compete internationally isof critical importance to the interests of any nation. Maintaining the competitive advantageof society through the education of future economic and institutional elites appears to be aprime motive behind the implementation of many study abroad programs.More strictly humanitarian reasons have also stimulated interest in the topic. Theonslaught of both public and privately sponsored international development projects duringthe post Second World War era saw waves of volunteers working overseas in communitiesthat were completely alien to them. Quite often this met with counterproductive, if nottragic, consequences as the values of volunteers and their programs clashed with those of thehost communities. As a result, international development agencies became very interestedin cross-cultural education as a fundamental strategy to ensure greater cultural sensitivityin the design and implementation of local projects and in the training of field staff. In adifferent, but related manner, international development agencies saw cross-culturallearning as part of their overall campaign for social and political change in society. Theimmediate offshoot of this was the emergence of “Development Education” beginning in the1950’s (Darling, 1988: p.2; Christie, 1983: p.9). Within the paradigm of developmenteducation, cross-cultural awareness is aimed at transforming the paternalistic andprejudiced perceptions held towards people of the “Third World” by individuals in the “FirstWorld”. Empathy and solidarity are the principal constructs shaped within this conceptionof cross-cultural education. Cross-cultural awareness is developed at the high school levelthrough a wide variety of educational programming, including international “pen-pal” orcomputer correspondence projects, child or community sponsorships, community linking,60student exchange programs, travel/study projects, and short term volunteer workexperience in a foreign country. The latter is the rarest and the kind of experience providedby the Casa Guatemala Project.A broad spectrum of research has examined cross-cultural programs. The findingsof these studies focus on various aspects of the students’ normative, social, psychological andintellectual development. Sikkema and Niyekawa (1987) investigated a cross-culturallearning program that brought American college students to Guam for an eight week period.From their analysis of journals and structured interviews they reported that the studentswent through four phases : a) disorganization, b) re-examination, C) reorganization, and d)the emergence of new perspectives (p.44). Their account of the learning process resemblesthe stages presented in Mezirow’s (1991) theory of perspective transformation. Sikkemaand Niyekawa (1987: p.55) describe the process leading to personal change as a blending ofcognitive and affective learning. They note, in particular, that the core learning outcomesfrom the experience were a deeper understanding and appreciation of, as well as empathytowards cultural differences:Negative responses to systems in the new culture that were quite differentfrom their own gradually evolved into an attitude of appreciation and respect.This change was apparent in increased awareness of non-verbal communication;increased ability in subsequent communication with people of other cultures orsubcultures as well as in their own; greater flexibility and increased tolerancefor ambiguity shown in a more relaxed and confident approach to situations indaily living and to seemingly difficult problems; and an understanding ofcultural relativity. (p.55)By expressing such trends in the students’ behaviour and discourse, Sikkema and Niyekawaclaim that they were able to transform their mode of thinking from one characterized bymono-culturalism towards biculturalism (p.60). In doing so the students became acutelyaware of their own culturally determined ways of thinking, valuing and behaving in theworld; this is the essence of perspective consciousness but not necessarily transformation.61They quote one of the students: “...it is learning that there are different ways to perceive theworld,” (p.60). Indeed, discovering the nature of selectivity in one’s own perceptions ispart of the key to changing the assumptions and principles shaping patterns of thought.Mezirow (1991) identifies this as premise reflection and claims it is the driving forcebehind perspective transformation.A great many of the findings from research carried out on study abroad programshave been summarized in the appendix sections of Kauffmann et al. (1992: pp.162-185).Most of the literature cited in this analysis of the research dealt with language or academicstudy abroad programs for college undergraduates in European nations and are, therefore, oflimited relevance to this study. Nevertheless, some of the findings bear mentioning here. Aconflicting body of evidence supports the notion that study abroad experience creates morefavourable attitudes towards the host culture and more critical dispositions towards one’sown society. A number of the research studies report, in fact, that students return homewith largely negative attitudes towards the host country and a greater appreciation for theirown culture (Kafka, 1968; Marion, 1974). Others report contrary findings suggestinginstead, that students emerge from their experience with a more inclusive worldview.Pfnister (1972) performed in-depth interviews on 120 college students studying in “ThirdWorld” countries and reported that they demonstrated increased tolerance and understandingof other people and their views. Carsello and Grieser (1976) witnessed increased interestin travel, history, art, architecture and encountering new people. Marion (1980) executeda follow-up to the 1974 study and found that participants who travelled extensively duringthe interim between studies, had become less dogmatic, less conservative and demonstratedmore favourable attitudes towards other cultures.Many of the same studies suggest gains in interpersonal development, cognitiveabilities and changes in student values. A program evaluation carried out by Pfnister62(1979) used an opinion survey and interviews with Goshen College alumni who hadpreviously participated in a “Third World” study service trimester. The study reported thatstudents were more tolerant of differences, decreased their concern about materialpossessions, strengthened critical thinking skills, experienced an increase in self-confidence, self-reliance skills and interpersonal skills. Carlson and Widman (1988)discovered stronger levels of cross-cultural interest, cultural cosmopolitanism and interestin foreign political concerns. This study also documented a mixture of more and lessfavourable attitudes towards the U.S. Koester (1985) and Carlson et al. (1990)demonstrated improvements in the students’ knowledge of both the host country and theUnited States. Extending from this are the findings of several studies which point tointensified interest in academic pursuits and international events (James, 1976; Abrams,1979; Koester, 1985).Their analysis of this body of research on study abroad programs brought Kauffmannet al. (1992) to some interesting conclusions. They suggest that students are more likely toexperience a stronger sense of personal growth than substantive gains in cross-cultural orglobal understanding (1992: p.75). The authors elaborate on the nature of thisrelationship:During a first trip abroad, a student primarily matures, expands horizons,learns to be more independent and self-reliant, and acquires survival skills forcoping with new environments. In subsequent intercultural experiences, thestudent can concentrate on building cultural and global understanding. (p.75-76)Borrowing from themes presented earlier by Adler (1975), they describe the learningsequence as one which begins with an interest in foreign travel to discover another culture,which inevitably leads to the analysis of one’s own society and ends up in a deeper and morethorough exploration of oneself.Kauffmann et al. (1992) suggest that young adults primarily experience growth63towards greater personal autonomy of thought and values, a less confined sense of groupbelonging, more complex and relativistic notions of truth, a broader sense of vocationalhorizons, and a more expansive woridview shaped by greater empathy for others (1992:pp.127-142). This last aspect is described by the authors as a transformation into thestage of Hempathetic ethnorelativism” (p.140). While the research on the Casa GuatemalaProject does not purport to validate this particular model of personal development,nevertheless, it does provide an interesting reference point to assess the transformation ofthe students’ perspectives at different phases of the experience. Of particular interest willbe the examination of changes in the students’ discourse surrounding their perceptions of thedominant ideas and values common to their own peer groups, the Richmond community, andCanadian society at large compared with those encountered in Guatemala. From this point itwill also be intriguing to gauge self-reports regarding the implications of the experience ontheir relationships with friends, parents, teachers and other community members, as wellas their reconsideration of vocational options and lifestyle choices.2.8 DiscussionThere is growing recognition that implementation of experiential curriculum is both crucialto the enhancement of learning possibilities in secondary education and highly problematicin terms of program implementation. Many studies reflect the notion that student actiontraining is ultimately directed at sociopolitical change. While explanations of the directionand dynamics of social and political transformation reflect a host of ideological perspectives,there is generally an implicit demand for youth to become involved in local, national andglobal issues. The literature on experiential education revolves around the development ofan individual’s sense of praxis surrounding three core themes: personal transformation,institutional reform and broad social change.64The recurrent theme of personal transformation tends to focus on the manifestationsof youth alienation in post-industrial welfare states. It is widely acknowledged thatcontemporary society has isolated youth from the productive forces in society and in so doinghas created an adolescent culture which complicates the transition into adulthood. Manystudents become “disfunctional” because they lack an environment which values and fosterstheir ability to develop the necessary attitudes, values, ethics, skills and responsibilitiesduring the years of transition into adulthood. Justifications for experiential education,whether such activities involve peer tutoring, career apprenticeships, community study andservice or political action, constantly refer to the potential of programs to reduce alienation.Yet students’ are rarely taken into consideration in the planning phase of programdevelopment. Advocates of experiential approaches to citizenship, environmental, global andcross-cultural education need to reconsider how their pedagogy is cloaked in largerideological imperatives. The research needs to look beyond test batteries which indicatetrends in individual learning outcomes and focus on ways to document how the social andcommunicative aspects of experience contribute to transformation.The goal of reforming learning outcomes also carries with it the need to alter thecontext in which education occurs. Institutional culture and norms work against suchreforms. Implementation of experiential curriculum brings with it changes in time-tabling, new teacher/student relationships, acceptance of greater legal risks for schoolpersonnel, improved communications with and participation from the community, as well asa radical change in pedagogical approaches. Any one of these conditions sets in motion a waveof ramifications that many teachers and administrators will oppose for many reasons. It isone thing to develop noble claims for experiential learning with the support of the presentbody of research evidence but quite another to advance these projects successfully within theschool context. Authors of the literature are quite right to identify experiential approaches65as a potent catalyst for school reform. The task of selling this understanding in a hostileclimate is a matter altogether different.The goal of social change is the least tangible and most contestable orientation forexperiential curriculum. Research has failed to provide overwhelming evidence thatinvolvement in experiential programs bears the fruit in lifelong behavioural and attitudinaldispositions towards sociopolitical action. What little evidence exists warns us that youthinvolvement in community service or political action campaigns is not motivated bysophisticated ideological imperatives and that forcing participation may even discouragefuture involvement in advocacy related activities. Several studies have indicated that youngadults see their participation in community service programs more in terms of exploringchances for personal and social growth. This last motive might serve as a more acceptableinstructional entry point for the proponents of experiential programs geared towardspolitical and social transformation. While there is little question that action programs havethe ability to engage the students’ enthusiasm in critical social issues, such zeal may beshort lived if experiential instruction fails to make the connection to more immediatepersonal ethics.2.9 ConclusionA wealth of literature and research has emerged on experiential education as a result of theenthusiasm of its supporters. However, a key component in our understanding remainsunexplored. Student explanations surrounding the impact of programs on their knowledge,values and perceptions remains open to ongoing investigation. This is surprising given thepresentation over the last two decades of a strong undercurrent of experiential learningtheory which points towards the analysis of student discourse as the key to unravelling thedynamics of perspective transformation, If advocates continue to attest to the merit of action66programs to enhance the students’ sense of political efficacy and agency then it is obligatorythat they first establish an understanding of how learning is altering these perceptions fromthe viewpoint of the individuals involved.67Chapter Three: History of the Casa Guatemala Project3.1 IntroductionThe historical development of the Casa Guatemala Project coincided with a decade of popularrevolution in Nicaragua and genocidal military atrocities in Guatemala. In coming tounderstand and respond to global events that deeply moved them, educators throughout NorthAmerica and Europe designed curriculum and special school programs with an increasingorientation towards staff and student action (Darling,1 988). This chapter looks at theemerging scope, themes and implications of one such response in a Canadian educationalcontext.As an educational program, the Casa Guatemala Project was primarily concernedwith a pedagogy rooted in the exploration of empathy and solidarity towards the people andpopular struggles of the “Third World”. The designers intentionally geared the programtowards the integration of the “facts” of global poverty and political unrest with emotionalor affective responses, for they assumed that the isolated presentation of the formerconstituted an incomplete, misleading and even dehumanizing form of education.Furthermore, they believed that thought and emotion were incomplete without the requisiteapplication of social and political action. However, while constructing and guiding aconstantly expanding platform for student learning and action over its first decade, theproject encountered growing pains which, in hindsight, seemed somewhat predictable. JillPoulton, Bob Carkner and the supporting teachers who developed the program have believedin and depended on broadly based community support to ensure the success of CasaGuatemala. In turn, this integration has forged unique and often conflicting relationshipsbetween the school and the surrounding community as the project began to explore newground and non-traditional teaching methods. The Casa Guatemala Project, if nothing else,68would stand up as an intriguing case study of the institutional dynamics that are set inmotion when educators attempt to change the established priorities, structures and norms ofthe contemporary high school.This chapter, however, is not expressly concerned with such matters even though itdoes look at the key role played by the vision of the administrator who guided the project’sdevelopment. These pages reveal the expanding scope, profile and impact of the projectwithin the community. The history of the Casa Guatemala Project also provides a context forunderstanding the preconceptions of the participants in this study. The narrative wascompiled through the accounts of five individuals.1 These figures include the high schoolprincipal who orchestrated the development of the program from its inception, a communitymember who initially instigated the connection between the Guatemalan orphanage and theRichmond schools, a teacher who has been involved on the periphery of the project since itbegan and who lead the most recent tour to Guatemala, as well as two students whoparticipated in the educational tours to the orphanage on different occasions.23.2 Origins and Early Years of Casa Guatemala: 1979-1989I guess that I just never guessed that so many people would care about somethinglike that. To me it was a small orphanage in a small country in the middle ofnowhere and I cared, but I never thought that the caring would reach out into thecommunity. I never thought that there would be students who would care enoughto go down there and work; that people like yourself would go down and care to be1 The researcher recognizes the fact that these five individuals are advocates of theprogram which places limitations on the inferences which can be drawn from the history ofthe Casa Guatemala Project constructed here.2 The accounts described here are based on interviews held between November of 1992 andMay of 1993. All interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. In addition, severalinformal conversations and telephone calls with these people were conducted to refine thefacts, information and perspectives presented in this study. This account of the history ofthe Casa Guatemala Project was reviewed and edited by Bob Carkner, Bruce Seney and RaySawatsky prior to publication. Several of the quotations have been altered as a result.69there and that people would drop off money at the school and not knowing, buttrusting that a place like that existed and trusting us enough to know that themoney would get there. I am amazed by it. So when you think that life can benegative and a lot of the world is in deep trouble, I don’t know, that makes youfeel good because it just keeps getting better and better. The children are reallywell cared for now which is wonderful. No one has given up on that place andthose kids are the lucky ones. In Guatemala they are the lucky ones. (Poulton,lnt)3In the spring of 1979 Jill Poulton read an advertisement on a bulletin board in the stafflounge of Canadian Pacific Air in Vancouver. The request was directed to Spanish speakingcandidates who would be willing to spend time volunteering at an orphanage named CasaCanada located in the heart of Guatemala City (Poulton, Int). The chance to work with thechildren and practice her Spanish appealed to Poulton, so she booked her holidays thatsummer and travelled to Guatemala. During her first encounter with the orphanage thatsummer, Poulton was introduced to two individuals who would alter the course of her life.The first was Naomi Bronstein, the Canadian born founder of Casa Canada who established theorphanage in the heart of Guatemala City in 1977 (Poulton, Int). The second individual wasa recently acquired ward of the orphanage; an infant boy suffering from severe malnutritionand on the brink of death. Within a year Poulton had arranged the necessary papers andadopted Mike as her son.Deeply moved by this first encounter with Casa Canada, Poulton returned to her owncommunity and immediately established a sponsorship program for the children of theorphanage. Responses to her solicitation for private sponsorship of the Casa Canada orphanscame quickly and a large network of friends helped to secure several important sources offunding. As Poulton recently recalled:I decided because I knew so many people in the airline and there were somany kids down there, I decided to see if some people would like to sponsorThe following set of abbreviations will apply to the documentation of quotations andinformation in this chapter: mt = transcribed interview, IC = informal conversation.70a child. It was one hundred and twenty dollars a year. That is what it cost.That is what I charged them anyway. I had photos of all the kids and I knewwho they were at that time. Not many of them were being moved or beingadopted so they stayed there. I got them sponsored and some of them weresponsored three and four times. A good friend of mine, who was a teacherat London, said that she had a really great Principal at London Junior Highhere and that the school would be interested in sponsoring a child. So shesaid to come out and meet Bob and go from there. (Poulton, Int)It is very likely that Bob Carkner would have discovered another project for the students ofLondon Junior High to link up with if not for this chance connection with Jill Poulton. As ithappened, the concept of sponsoring an orphan in Guatemala instantly appealed to Carkner’ssense of vision regarding the extension of international development issues in the school.What really cemented the idea of a partnership between these two institutions was the factthat there would be a highly personal association for London students to the “Third World”through the assistance given to one child in Guatemala. In essence, supporting the orphansplaced a real face and name to the otherwise clinical batch of statistics, issues and problemsthat typified the media’s portrayal of the world’s impoverished masses. Carkner believedthat by following a child’s progress his students would develop a sense of empathy andcompassion for the orphans at Casa Canada and through this a deeper emotional appreciationof their situation and the issues which shaped their lives. While the slogans “globaleducation” and “global perspective” were not commonplace in mainstream educationalcircles as yet, sponsoring a child in a “Third World” country seemed to strike the rightchords in Carkner’s vision of a dynamic education for the students at London Junior High.The underlying tenet of his educational philosophy revealed in this case was centered on thefusion of thought and action. In his mind, the sponsorship of the child was about instilling asense of personal efficacy and solidarity in his students. With the connection betweenPoulton and Carkner now established, the two sat and discussed the background and needs ofthe orphanage in detail.71Within months of their first meeting, Carkner had mobilized the staff and students ofLondon in a fundraising campaign for Casa Canada in the name of a fourteen-month-oldorphan named Oswaldo (Carkner, Int). The school project was advertised to the parents andcommunity through newsletters and assemblies. The response to this initial campaign wasencouraging. Even though the fundraising goals set for the school’s activities wereintentionally modest, the success of the first events helped to establish a solid foundation forthe continuation of the program at London. As Carkner recalled:We raised about $300 to $400 and sent it down and Oswaldo’s picture was onthe cover of the Casa Canada advert about sponsoring the orphanage. He wasabout fourteen months old and totally malnourished. I forget the weightdifference but he was a complete horror show looking visually at him. We didit for three years. After three years he was adopted by an affluent family downthere. It was a ‘Cinderella story’. The students and kids in the school all feltthat even though it wasn’t much money, we had made a contribution to savingthis youngster. Sort of a good feeling about the whole thing. So, from there wewent on sponsoring. (Carkner, Int)In one sense the strategy of sponsoring a child in a “developing” country was a simplereplication of other contemporary agency-based initiatives taking place throughout Canadaat that time. The Unitarian Committee, Unicef, Canadian Save the Children Fund had beenusing similar child sponsorship fundraising strategies which focused on the involvement ofCanadian students for many years. What made the program at London distinctive, in onesense, was the attempt by several of the staff to foster a collective sense of responsibilityamongst the student body towards the children of Casa Canada and Oswaldo in particular.Second, the fact that their sponsorship was being carried out as part of a broader communitybased response under the coordination of Jill Poulton, made the “grassroots” connection evenmore tangible, supportive and important for the students in this situation (Carkner, Int).In other words, it was evident that their concern for the child was reflected by a wider crosssection of adults in the community.In the first years of operation the sponsorship program did not overshadow other72fundraising drives at the school. The modest beginnings of Casa Canada allowed supportivestaff members room to identify with the aims of the project without invading the traditionalturf of other clubs or athletic programs. In this manner Carkner was able to quietly weavethe philosophy of sponsoring Oswaldo into the fabric of the school’s educational mission.Bruce Seney, one of the teachers working with student council at London during that time,evaluated the early years of the project in this manner:Initially, Casa Canada was a very detached thing. We did some fundraising forOswaldo and Oswaldo was a name that everyone knew in the school but no oneknew what he looked like. We got the semi-annual letter and the little photobut we didn’t know who he was. (Seney, Int)Even though the sponsorship of Oswaldo was not integrated within the school’smainstream curriculum at that time, Carkner was struck by the idea of resurrecting thetraditional Remembrance Day Service to make it work as a promotional and educationalvenue so that it provided a powerful explanation for the school’s involvement with CasaCanada. After consulting and sharing the idea with several of his teaching staff, the ideabecame a reality. The new assembly transformed the traditional emphasis on gratitude forthe past deeds and sacrifice of long dead soldiers, into an multi-media event thatdemonstrated a graphic connection between Canada’s military mobilization throughout thiscentury and present day conflicts in developing nations (Carkner, Int). It was a theme thatCarkner and the staff believed the students could appreciate and relate to. The relationshipbetween the past and present was centered on the common need for social and politicalactivism during times of crisis by several generations of Canadians. The modern foe to bevanquished in this scheme was poverty and injustice in the “Third World”. The message alsobeing that the students were making this connection through their sponsorship program.Carkner explained it this way:Remembrance Day in most schools was cancelled in the sixties and earlyseventies, but some teachers said we’ve got to try again; have another go at it.73We had some really creative people and so we thought well, okay, we aregoing to talk about the past, we’re going to talk about the present and we aregoing to introduce an orphan. So all of a sudden the two came together and fromthen on every Remembrance Day was the connecting link between working forthe orphanage and it was powerful. I then got BC TEL to do hookups and hadthem piped into the assembly and talked to Angie Galdamez who was the directorof the orphanage, and so it became very high profile thing. But the connectionwas made between Remembrance Day, war and all those awful things that arehappening out there and what can you and what can I, individually andcollectively, do to make a better world. (Carkner, Int)There was a feeling amongst the staff that the project was beginning to gather momentum andwas becoming a more sophisticated vehicle to educate the student body. The assemblyencapsulated the rationale for the school’s involvement with Casa Canada and fostered a verypersonal emotional bond with the Guatemalan children. Characterizing the impact on thestaff and students, Carkner stated:For an hour and a quarter you had junior high school kids, grade eight to ten,sitting there. You could have heard a pin drop. We should have been handingout Kleenex at the end. It was pretty heavy stuff. We came out of there cheeringbecause we realized that we had educationally struck something; we had createdemotion and the emotion had some kind of effect on the kids and even though Iwould say it was not pleasant and they were sad, it was a positive thing from thepoint of view that we were able to make the connection for students. (Carkner,I nt)There was little doubt that the success of the new assembly was a source of great pride forthe staff at London Junior High. The project had enjoyed some early success and had grownto involve a number of students and teachers who had become more personally committed tothe orphanage.In 1982 Bob Carkner was transferred as principal to Steveston Senior SecondarySchool in the same district. Support for the Casa Canada project at London quicklydeteriorated as a result of his leaving. The new administration at London did not share thevision or enthusiasm for the project and several key staff moved to other schools (Seney,Int). Carkner quickly reconstructed the sponsorship campaign at his new school. The74program expanded rapidly at Steveston with the help of a few energetic and imaginative staffmembers who shared Carkner’s zeal for the incorporation of issues of the “Third World” inthe broader programming of the school. The Remembrance Day Ceremony was invoked, onceagain, as the primary means to promote support and understanding of the project within theschool. At one point during this year Oswaldo was adopted by a family in Guatemala andSteveston began a new sponsorship of a mentally and physically disabled child named JuanMario (Poulton, Int).Ken Lorenz, one of the teachers who had been instrumental in creating the programat London, visited Guatemala and the orphanage on a photo-journalism tour in 1984 (Seney,Int). Lorenz did this despite the fact that news reports at home chronicled the horrendousnature of the atrocities being committed by military death squads throughout the country.He brought back a series of photographs, fresh news of the children at Casa Canada and arealization of a new set of possibilities for the school-based project. This was the first timethat anyone from the school district had visited the orphanage outside of Jill Poulton. Theconnection between the community and the orphanage became more personal as a result.Lorenz’s stories and pictures sparked an intensification of interest in the project within theschool and community (Seney, lnt). Guatemala evenings and special presentations were heldthroughout the area on several occasions as fundraising events for the project. Larger andlarger sums of money were sent down to the orphanage each year as commitment andownership of the program grew within the student body at Steveston. Sizeable donationsfrom teachers, parents, businesses and community members began to appear on Carkner’sdesk at all times of the year. On many occasions the donations from community memberswere anonymous and reached quite sizeable sums (Carkner, Int). The scale of the projectwas starting to grow. By the mid-eighties the size of the annual donation to Casa Canada hadgrown to a respectable sum of three to four thousand dollars (Carkner, IC).75In 1985 the name of the orphanage was changed to Casa Guatemala. Angie Galdamez, along time volunteer and coordinator at the site, became the new director of the orphanagewhen Naomi Bronstein returned to her home in Ottawa (Poulton, Int). At this time the civilwar in Guatemala was extending into the streets of the capital city, and Naomi, who hadguided the development of the orphanage from its inception, no longer felt that she and herfamily were safe (Poulton, Int). Galdamez believed the new name was a more appropriatereflection of the children who were served by the institution (CF).4 Related to this was thefact that private sources of funding were increasingly coming from a number of differentinternational organizations including Denmark, France and the United States (Poulton, lnt).The new name was less partisan and also signaled a changing of the guard at the orphanage.Galdamez’s directorship also brought forth a new relationship with the school project inBritish Columbia. Carkner made a point of keeping in close contact with the new directorduring this period to obtain up to date reports on Juan Mario and the status of children at theorphanage. A solid friendship was established between the two administrators ascommunication between them became more frequent (Carkner, Int).Sponsorship of Casa Guatemala, in the name of Juan Mario, continued for seven moreyears at Steveston High. By the late 1980’s the idea of expanding the scope of the programbegan to emerge as a natural progression from the success which had been experienced up tothat point. New ideas were needed to keep the project vigorous and to renew the level ofinvolvement in Casa Guatemala fundraising efforts (Carkner, Int). Believing in thestrength and educational value of the Remembrance Day Ceremony, Carkner and his fellowteachers managed to coordinate the production of a video of the school event as it occurred inNovember of 1988. Funding for the documentary was arranged in a joint venture betweenSee unpublished document in Carkner Files (CF), Galdamez, A. (1991, p.5) Casa GuatemalaFocus Booklet, 1991: p.5.76the school, three chapters of the local Veterans Associations and the Ministry of Education inBritish Columbia (Carkner, lnt). Force Four Productions of Vancouver was approached toproduce the video and accepted the contract. By this time the annual assembly had become ahighly orchestrated event that involved the participation of decorated war veterans, localpoliticians, and several Guatemalan families who had moved to the area as refugees in recentyears. To cement the concept of a global vision, within the structure of the ceremony, aconference call was coordinated between Bob Carkner in the school auditorium, AngieGaldamez at Casa Guatemala and two separate students from Steveston who were living andworking in Japan and China during that year (Force Four Productions, 1989). Through thebroadcast conversation with Carkner the school audience heard these various perspectiveson the importance of what the school project was advocating.Once completed, a copy of A Memory and A Vision was sent to every school district inthe province of British Columbia and received air time on several local television stations(Carkner, Int). The success of their involvement with the orphanage was becoming widelyknown and Carkner and several of the staff were asked to do presentations for a number ofcommunity organizations and educational conferences in the region. Letters of appreciationfor the video arrived at Steveston from all corners of the province. Articles on theassembly and the Casa Guatemala project appeared in local newspapers and the journal of thePacific Command of the Canadian Legion. The article in Legion, entitled “A Global ApproachTo Remembrance” stated:Steveston did more. It made remembrance contemporary. It encompassedyesterday’s wars and today’s strife in countries such as Guatemala in a 75minute school service...The video depicts the ravages of war with glimpsesof cultural exchange opportunities for Canadians. It makes no bones aboutthe fact there are a score of countries today with repressive governmentsor rebel insurgents and that the death tolls are in the tens of thousands on77and beyond the Pacific Rim. 5In this respect, not only was the sponsorship of Juan Mario working as an educationalmedium for the students at Steveston, but the program also became a stronger vehicle forboth community integration in Carkner’s school and networking with other educationalconstituencies (Carkner, Int). By this stage in the project’s history Carkner could evencount on the response of graduated alumni from Steveston and other regional schools toprovide a steady stream of donations and support work for the cause (Carkner, Int). Anumber of elementary and junior high schools in the district also began their own childsponsorship and fundraising campaigns for Casa Guatemala in the fall of 1989 as a directmanifestation of the expanding profile and knowledge of the project in the Richmondcommunity.It was at this point that Carkner began to see Casa Guatemala as a model for theimplementation of global education in other school districts throughout the province. Thisperception was based, in part, on the increasing profile and publicity that surrounded theproject at that time. Global education, as a movement centered on issues of institutional andcurriculum reform, was gaining momentum throughout many North American educationaljurisdictions at that time (Darling,1 988), and Carkner was the central figure in what hadbecome a very unique “home-grown” project in British Columbia. Carkner accepted thisnew mission as an educational leader in the name of global education because it stronglycoincided with his philosophy of what a principal should be promoting and what schoolsshould be engaged in:I think in my role as a principal, I have the responsibility to work withteachers to realize the school’s vision. The principal has got to be constantlylooking to the vision, to be looking further, to be unfolding things and workingwith people about that I think every school should have a project, I mean atLegion, 65 (2), July/August 1990, p31 (CF).78least one, but it should probably have at least three or four. That is the onlyway the school can move forward. Education is going to become better. Moreyoung people are going to be staying in school because it is relevant, because itis exciting, because we are working. I think when I started teaching there wasthe notion that schools couldn’t be agents for social change. I think schools canbe. I think education can be. (Carkner, Int)By this time the pressure for changes to the project began to take place as a result ofinternal forces. Ownership of the Casa Guatemala project had extended to a core group ofstaff who shared the desire to improve and expand its mission. After a decade as asuccessful, but limited, fundraising effort for a distant orphanage, it was time to take theproject and educational experience one step further. During a meeting held for staffinvolved with Casa Guatemala in the spring of 1989, Dave Gautier suggested one option thatreflected the prevailing sentiment of several of the group members. The time had come tosend a representative team of teachers and students from Steveston to Guatemala to visit andwork at the orphanage. Carkner recalled the moment in this way:They said to me that you should put your money where your mouth is. In factyou should, by example, go to Guatemala. They sort of jumped all over me.You are telling the kids they should do it. Why don’t you do it? Made sense...It was as if somebody had lit a candle. We could have done it earlier. Nevertheless, it was the right time and they felt it and when they said it I felt it too.(Carkner, Int)A number of factors conspired to make such an escalation in expectations possible. First andforemost was a relative decline of overt hostilities within Guatemala. Once again, tourismwas opening up and reports coming back from community members who had recently visitedGuatemala suggested that such a trip was feasible and relatively safe (Poulton, Int). Second,Angie Galdamez had grown to be good friends with Carkner through a decade’s worth of phonecalls and letters. She also depended on the yearly donations coming from Steveston High aspart of the operating budget for the orphanage (Poulton, Int). In response to this sense oftrust and friendship, Galdamez felt comfortable inviting Carkner and the students to visit79the orphanage so that they could directly witness the work they were supporting. JillPoulton was, once again, shuttling between the Guatemalan orphanage and Canada, and actedas a messenger between Galdamez and Carkner. The offer to visit the children was becomingmore and more explicit. Jill Poulton recalled the thrust of events in this manner:I think he [Carkner] got tired of always just being on the phone and havingthis perception of what was going on in Guatemala. I think he really wanted tosee it first hand and Angie, I think, talked him into it because she wanted tomeet him because he had taken such a personal involvement in the place andsponsored a child himself and sent lots of money himself. I think that she keptsaying, “Come down, come down,” and the last time that I was down there, Iwent twice in 1988, she said, “Tell Bob and the students to come down. Ifthey really want to help here the way to do it is to come.” It took him anothertwo years to go because he was really worried. (Poulton, Int)It was as if Carkner was being compelled to organize a staff and student field-trip toGuatemala by nature of the very dynamics of the progressive expansion which he and theother teachers had instilled in the program over the years. With this new realm ofpossibilities, came the even greater challenge of selling the idea of travelling to Guatemalato the students, their parents, the staff and district administration. Carkner was about toenter one of the most turbulent years in his professional career. The sheer magnitude of theCasa Guatemala program was beginning to encounter a measure of resistance from severalsectors of the broader educational community. Many individuals felt they had a stake in thefuture direction of the program at Steveston High, because the expanded format for theproject had ramifications on other school activities and priorities. Others believed thatCarkner did not truly realize the full weight of what he was proposing (Carkner, Int).Taking students to a place like Guatemala gave skeptics a reason to limit the emergingparameters of this global education program.3.3 The Great Leap Forward: Launching the Trip to Guatemala (1989-1990)I guess I worry because we could just sit and never move ahead. The only80people who are really going to change the direction and make educationa more influential force in making a better world are the people within it;the teachers and the administrators, when we work together in concert, toendeavour to change the lives of our kids, change the attitudes of our kids.(Carkner, Int)Late in the spring of 1989, Carkner brought Ray Sawatsky, the newly elected president ofstudent council, into his office and asked for his assistance in planning and promoting aworking field-trip to the Casa Guatemala orphanage during the upcoming year (Sawatsky,Int). While their school had been sponsoring the orphanage financially for the past sevenyears, bringing students to visit their friends in Guatemala represented a radical departurefrom anything which had been conceived previously. There had been a constant stream oftravel programs to Japan, France and Spain from the school, but this was completelydifferent. This was Guatemala, a war torn and destitute “Third World” nation thatconsistently headlined in the Canadian media as the mecca of human rights abuses, deathsquads and political corruption in Central America. The proposed trip also represented aseries of marching orders for Sawatsky that he never anticipated receiving when runningfor student council president that year:He sat me down and said we have been working on this idea for quite sometime of having students go down to Casa Guatemala. We were all very familiarwith Casa Guatemala and his program through the fundraising that had gone onin the schools. Rather than be tourists and rather than be people that watchand observe, why not actually get involved in work there and take it one stepfarther? I was very excited I guess. It was a concept at that point and nothingmore. It was kind of a dream, you know. The reality was probably a very smallpercentage that it was going to happen at that point. It was kind of an idea andit all happened so fast. Within six or seven months we were there. By the timewe got back the next September for school, for grade twelve, we were workingon everything. Everything we were doing was working towards the programand there really wasn’t time to think about it or be apprehensive about itreally until we were leaving to go. (Sawatsky, Int)The decision to proceed with the trip to Guatemala was a novel and exciting twist tothe established agenda for the staff and student body at Steveston. During the fall semester,81activities in support of the orphanage overwhelmed the school. The direct nature of whatwas being proposed for the staff and students rallied the school body and community behindthe project as never before. The number of teachers interested in assisting with the JuanMario Fund swelled to well over a dozen (Seney, Int). For the first time donations includedmaterial contributions to support the children. Very few specifics were laid out concerningthe size and composition of the contingent that would travel to Guatemala and represent theschool, but that did not seem to detract from the new wave of enthusiasm, activism and pridethat hit the school that fall (Sawatsky, Int).Unravelling the explanation for this intensified interest and participation in theproject is not a straightforward task. Indeed, the novelty of sending students from Stevestonwas a major factor but this alone does not account for the widely expanded base of supportwithin the school and community at large. The filming of the Remembrance Day Service thatfall and the media’s interest in the proposed travel program brought forth a great deal ofpublicity to the school and as a result it magnified the sense of mission and responsibilitytowards Casa Guatemala amongst the staff and students (Carkner, Int). Sawatsky recalledthis period:A lot of media groups out there thought this was great. The Fifth Estate thoughtthis was the neatest thing which had happened in high schools in quite a while.Anyway, media, television, radio, newspapers embraced this program veryquickly. So from that point of view they wanted to see it happen. This was newand novel in schools. When the schools and the school system was being badlycriticized, this gave them a shining light. (Sawatsky, Int)The recognition of Steveston’s project was all the more important in the face of their longstanding rivalry with Richmond Senior High. In this sense, competition and a superiorsense of mission may have had more to do with the rising level of interest in the programthan any other single factor (Sawatsky, Int). Regardless of the dynamics behind thisheightened awareness and sense of mission, the school was clearly engaged in new frontiers:82When it was simply a couple of fundraisers throughout the year to raise athousand or two thousand dollars it didn’t involve the entire school. Itinvolved a select group of students. You know most were student council andtwo or three administrators; Mr. Carkner and a couple of teachers. Whathappened when we elevated the trip to going to Guatemala we elevated whathappened in the school drastically. That year student council did not do anevent for anything other than Casa Guatemala. So a very high awareness ofthe program existed which wasn’t there in past years. In my grade elevenyear I don’t remember the program being as public as it was when we weretrying to promote it...All the students, whether they were going or not, gotinvolved.. .Some high schools have sports teams that are the focus but ourschool that year seemed to be very clearly focused on the Casa GuatemalaProject and there wasn’t probably two days that went by were there wasn’tsomething said, or some activity, or some news to do with the program andso all the students were very aware. So that was a big change from the yearbefore. (Sawatsky, lnt)By October of 1989 the staff involved with the project had put together a formalproposal for the visit to Guatemala (CF). It suggested that a contingent of ten to twelvestudents and three or four staff visit and work at the orphanage. The brief also reflected themajor selling point for the trip which had emerged by this time. Once again it was JillPoulton who intervened to put the “bug” in both Carkner’s and Galdamez’s ears concerningwhat would be the central rationale for a trip to the orphanage (Carkner, Int). Over thepast year a fully operational chinook salmon hatchery had been installed as a workingbiology classroom at Steveston under the direction of three teachers, Carkner and JoeKambietz, a consultant from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The hatchery waspurportedly the first of its kind in a North American high school setting. Building on thesuccess of the hatchery, Carkner sought to utilize the expertise of Frank Price and severalof the students, to enhance the productivity of the local tilapia fish farm which was alreadyon site at the Rio Dulce orphanage in Guatemala (Poulton, Int; Carkner, Int). Thissuggestion lent greater legitimacy to the proposal for the travel/work plan because thestated rationale was now couched in terms which implied the framework of an applied fieldtrip. This angle made the excursion more marketable to district administration, community83members and parents.The announcement that a team of staff and students would travel to Casa Guatemalacame, quite appropriately, during the November 11th assembly that year (Sawatsky, Int).The next phase of preparation for the organizing team was the selection of students whowould represent the school on the excursion. At the initial information meeting nearly twohundred students were waiting eagerly to hear the proposed outline for the Guatemala trip tolearn of the applications procedures (Sawatsky, lnt). This turnout suggests thatapproximately one in every seven students at Steveston Senior High was at least interestedin participating in the travel program to Guatemala. On its own, the figure demonstrates thepopularity and strength of support for the project within the student body that year. Thestudents were asked to submit a parental permission form, a brief statement indicating whythey wanted to go and a personal resume which emphasized their extracurricular activitiesduring the last several years. One hundred and thirty fully completed applications weresubmitted to the staff committee for evaluation in the following weeks (Sawatsky, Int). Acrude triage was employed to thin the number of applicants down to a short list of thirtyinterview candidates. Students were eliminated in the first order on the basis of grades andpast disciplinary problems (Seney, lnt). The remainder of applications were pitchedagainst one another on the basis of choosing the best possible representatives from theschool. One of the major qualifiers for this lot of candidates was enrollment in the fishhatchery program as this was the assigned work project and prime objective of the trip(Sawatsky, Int). One of the last considerations was gender balance, but in the end thenumber of female applicants outnumbered the male applicants by a ratio of more than ten toone (Sawatsky, Int). Interestingly, this imbalance in the gender ratio of applicantscontinued for the next three years of the program. An explanation of this would stand out asan important piece of research in its own right. With all these factors in mind the short list84was negotiated, established and then posted by the selection committee. At this point aninterview panel was formed and each candidate went through a fairly intense thirty minutegrilling at the hands of a ten teacher panel (Seney, Int). Observing the available videofootage of these interviews confirms the image of an interrogation like atmosphere duringthese sessions (Force Four Productions, 1991). Once the interviews had been completedthe candidates were ranked individually by the committee and each student was voted on inturn. A list of twelve finalists was drawn up (Sawatsky, Int). Even with this stage in theprocess completed the committee could not announce the final travel roster. There was noconfirmation coming from above as to the certainty of numbers permitted to go to Guatemalaor even that the plan had the official sanction of district administration (Sawatsky, Int). Along period of uncertainty began to set in around the project.Eliminating the students on the basis of grades and conduct was an expedient measurebut one that had a lasting impact on the clientele that would support and participate in theprogram in the years to come. Sawatsky was more aware of the intention behind theselection criteria because of his leadership on student council and close connection to schooladministration. He recalled the original enthusiasm and participation of “mediocre” or“marginalized” students in this way:When I went to the meeting you expected that class of student that was intoschool. This was so different than school and school functions. This washumanitarian, moral. However you want to look at it, that sparked the interestof some of these students. Maybe some of them were rebels and maybe when youare that age.. .1 remember, even I was looking for something to identify with athat point in my life or whatever. This could have been it for them...lt wasn’tjust smart people. It wasn’t just people with good grades. It was a very widerange group of people ethnically who wanted to go. Even people who didn’t speakEnglish. They still wanted to go on this program. (Sawatsky, ml)His perceptions of the implications of this conscious decision by the selection committee areeven more revealing and are worth stating at length here:85J.S.: What kind of ramifications do you think that had on the program in lateryears?Sawatsk Once again you may not be getting a truly representative sample ofstudents. You are getting the upper echelon or whatever.. .Perhaps one of thosestudents are quite different in that their whole focus in life is to be very lovingand caring and maybe the children missed that. The children in Casa Guatemalamight have lost something by one of them not being included. The other thing Ithink about, you know, is often people that are conscious of world conditionsand levels, they aren’t always or even usually the upper echelon people or theacademics of the world. It is not usually the academics or the well-to-do thatreally care, but often the people who are less well-to-do which aren’t asacademically sound which care more.J.S.: Can you explain that?Sawatsky: Maybe they identify better with the fact that everything hasn’t comeeasy to them in life so maybe they identify easier with the Third World people alittle better....Maybe the academic people get so caught up in what they are doingthat they lose the personal interaction and the love and the care of the peoplearound them and giving that back. They become self-consumed, self-determinedan that kind of thing and they lose that. (Sawatsky, Int)The purpose here is not to indict the selection process, but to expose the context andimplications of these decisions for the program. To be sure, choices had to be made within avolatile political climate. The staff organizers needed to ensure that the selected candidatesdid not represent a potential liability to the safety of the group or the future of the program.Carkner was preoccupied diffusing the growing and increasingly vocal resistance to this newprogram from within his own school and the community at large. All the correct buttons hadto be pushed, and selecting students with the “right stuff” was but one part of that process ofsteering the project in the best possible direction.Pressure on Carkner was beginning to mount. Part of the resistance came from moresilent sources within the school staff who saw the program interfering with otherfundraising efforts and disrupting the normal cycle of events at Steveston (Seney, lnt).Several representatives of international development agencies expressed their concernabout the trip because they were skeptical of Carkner’s depth of understanding of the86political turmoil in Guatemala and the potential risk for students’ well being (Carkner,Int). Throughout the months leading up to the trip he would often arrive in his office andopen letters with attached newspaper clippings that clearly pointed out the fact thatGuatemala was far from being peaceful. Several community members and parents openlydisagreed with the program philosophy and intent, favouring a more domestic focus for theschool’s projects and fundraising efforts (Carkner, Int). Carkner was being questionedrepeatedly by education officials who challenged the wisdom behind this break with themission of the school:I had administrators in front of other administrators tell me that they felt thatwe don’t have time to be fooling around in Guatemala; that we have got enoughgoing on in our schools, solving problems of fighting, ethnic problems, etc. Wehaven’t got time to be planning trips to Guatemala. We’ve got enough in going onin our own back yard; not that I am talking about charity but I’m talking aboutjust the management of the schools...the kids not getting along, attendanceproblems, etc. How can you possibly fool around with Guatemala? So thoseforces were out there, too. (Carkner, Int)With this critique of the new mandate, Carkner began to realize the full scale of theimplications that were occurring as a result the changes of the project’s goals. In responseto his growing sense of apprehension surrounding the project, Carkner consulted a lawyer,who assured him that as long as standard procedures and precautions were enacted, then hehad no basis upon which to worry in a legal sense (Carkner, Int). The objective of takingstudents to Guatemala was no longer simply a lesson surrounding the promotion of a “globalperspective” within the school. The ensuing fundraising campaign and organizationalresponsibilities challenged the established order of priorities at the school and in thedistrict.Casa Guatemala was clearly becoming a project centered on institutional reform on avariety of fronts. The mission of the school was shifted towards a major concern with issuesof the “Third World.” The Casa Guatemala orphanage represented both the case study and the87call to action. This dynamic also implied that the teachers revisit the style and substance oftheir instructional pedagogy, even if only on a very superficial level. For some teachers,even the implication that some of their students would be temporarily removed from class toparticipate in the program was too much to handle (Seney, Int). Second, the school’srelationship with the community was being altered on two fronts. Fundraising andpromotional efforts brought the school in closer contact with parents, politicians,businesses and agencies in the district that supported the aims of the Steveston project(Carkner, Int; Sawatsky, Int). In some respects the cause of Juan Mario and the fishhatchery became a community-wide symbol of progress, pride and leadership. Both of theseprojects were, by now, receiving broad recognition as a pioneering program in secondaryeducation (Carkner, Int). With the higher profile and more extensive communityintegration came increased public scrutiny of the school.The program was still shrouded in uncertainty by the time of the first semesterbreak at Steveston in mid-January of 1990. Carkner had booked and purchased anundisclosed number of airline tickets to Guatemala City for a date in March but the exactsize and composition of the travel team was still not revealed (Sawatsky, Int). Confusingthe matter even more was the sideline participation of the Force Four Film’s productioncrew which had been hired, once again, to document the journey and experience of the CasaGuatemala team. Their return to the school was brought about through the diligent efforts ofChris Phillips, one of the teachers on the coordinating committee of the project at Steveston(Carkner, Int). Through several months of constant negotiations and applications, Phillipsmanaged to swing funding for the film production through the British Columbia TeachersFederation, the W. R. Long Memorial Fund and the Canadian International DevelopmentAgency (Force Four Productions, 1991). By the time the interviews took place in Januarythey had already put a production schedule in place and were busy taping the students and88events at the school. The presence of the Force Four crew at the school added to theperceived momentum of the project and heightened the prospects that a high school teamwould definitely be going to Guatemala.During the onset of first semester examinations in mid-January of 1990, districtadministration suddenly announced that Carkner was to be transferred to Richmond SeniorHigh School, effective immediately. In return Steveston was to receive their principal: Mr.Roy Akune. The news shocked the staff, students and parents of Steveston (Sawatsky, lnt).Organized resistance emerged within hours of the announcement. Newspapers, televisionstations and the trustees were called by parents and community members almostimmediately to spread the word of this decision in their hope that the district administrationwould rescind the order (Sawatsky, Int). Students organized a petition that was signedthroughout the community. Telephone lines to the school and the district office werejammed as parents and local citizens sought clarification on the news and voiced theiropposition to the transfer (Sawatsky, Int). After several days of badgering by the parents,students and community members the message was clear that this was an unpopulardecision. The decision was reversed within a week of being issued (Sawatsky, lnt).However, this abrupt reversal of intentions still took place with a slight twist: Bob Carknerwas still to be transferred but this move would take place at the end of the academic year. Inthe interim he was granted permission to go ahead with the plan to travel to Guatemala inMarch.By the time the dust had settled from this commotion, there were only seven weeks toprepare for the trip. The students were given word from Carkner that only six of themwould be going, accompanied by two teachers and the three member film crew. The schoolcontingent was half the size of the original estimate that had been rumoured in the previousmonths (Sawatsky, Int). Carkner would lead the trip with the assistance of Frank Price,89the biology teacher. Sawatsky was one of the six students to be selected. Four femalestudents made the list as well as one other male student. With the release of the news thatthe trip was definitely going to take place, the group quickly prepared for the journey. Noneof the students had been to a tropical country before. Shots had to be taken, passportsarranged and equipment organized (Sawatsky, lnt). Introductory Spanish classes werearranged for the group. On top of all the individual responsibilities came the hugeresponsibility of dealing with the seventy-two boxes of goods that had been donated for theorphanage. The organization of donations was coordinated by the International Issues Clubwhich had played a central role that year in promoting and fundraising for the Juan Mariofund. Carkner took care of the transportation of the donations by arranging free shipment ofa container on the flight down to Guatemala (Seney, Int). Last minute fundraising eventsoccurred and a special assembly was held to wish the group farewell. In total the school andcommunity had raised close to six thousand dollars for the orphanage (Sawatsky, Int).If the program had been mired to some degree in controversy and criticism over theintervening months, it was now transforming into a wave of support. To assist in thepersonal expenses of the trip, Steveston’s Alumni Association donated five thousand dollarsto assist with travel expenses for the group (Carkner, IC). Through all of this the moodamongst the student team became more intense as the March 17th departure date grewcloser. Sawatsky recalled his sense of the personal implications that this journey posedwith the notion that his “lifeworld” was about to be shattered by the experience. It is alsointeresting to note in his recollection of events, the paternalistic overtones in the students’collective perception regarding their upcoming role at the orphanage:We were so involved with everything, the fundraising especially and theorganization that finally when we had no more of that to do, we had nothingto occupy our time...The trip was organized and we were going. Then itreally came down that we had time to think what we were doing and gettinginto. There was a great sense of seriousness there. We were going out into90the great beyond. There was a great sense that we didn’t know what it wasor what was going to happen. We were stepping out of our comfort zones.We were doing something so completely different that there has got to be aprofound effect here somewhat. We thought that profound effect would beour influence on the people of Guatemala and the self-gratification that way.We thought it would be gratifying by being helpful and sharing our knowledgeand that type of thing. When it came down to the day we were leaving it wasjust, let’s do it. Let’s stop thinking about it because it is driving us crazy.In some senses we were trying to talk ourselves out of it. It was a really anemotional roller-coaster ride inside our own heads because we didn’t knowwhat to expect. So we just kind of had all these different thoughts. I waskind of setting my life in order. (Sawatsky, Int)The growing sense of trepidation was not limited to the students. Carkner franticallyorganized all the last minute details. With the day of departure finally at hand Carkner’slevel of apprehension was very noticeable (Force Four Productions, 1991). So much was atstake and he was entering an environment that he could no longer tightly control oranticipate.The flight to Guatemala went smoothly, but for the team it represented a huge stepinto the great unknown and a time of intense reflection on the events that had taken placeduring the last six months. For the students the flight symbolized the physical andemotional distance between the “First” and “Third World”. In reference to this, Sawatskyrevisited the events leading up to their departure and assessed the situation with greatclarity some three years after the fact. He spoke of the personal impact of this journey, as aprocess of breaking with what he identified as a series of “comfort zones”:The first comfort zone being a kind of distanced relationship with thesepeople; the Casa Guatemala people. It is very comfortable for us people to situp here in North America and send them money out of the goodness of ourhearts and leave it at that. Sort of a spiritual feel good about yourself doingsomething for these poor degenerates type of attitude. It is a very comfortableway to be...You can maintain a distance from these people. You don’t have tointeract with them. You don’t have to live with the people in South America.You don’t have to know them...To elevate the program to this level that comfortzone can’t apply. You have to get to know the people there intimately. You havegot to trust them. They have got to trust you...The other comfort zone I talkabout was personally, we get into modes in North America of certain life styles,91of certain ideals for ourselves that really had to be put aside to be involved inthe program, because it wasn’t going to benefit you materialistically to go toGuatemala. It was going to cost you money. It was going to cost you your time...You were going into an entirely foreign situation. I don’t think that one of thesix that went had ever been outside of North America. So in that sense we wereleaving a very large comfort zone in North America, and go to the Third Worldwith all the concepts of how the Third World is painted by the media here.True or not true you still have that in your head. (Sawatsky, Int)Such apprehension about breaking the bonds of security within their home environment andculture came to a head during the flight to Guatemala City:We didn’t talk to each other much. We were all kind of living within ourselvesfor the moment, writing in our journals or just thinking. I was scared. Therewas no turning back at this point, but I was very scared. I was almost on theborder line of regretting having done this. That is when I looked at the fringe.I am out of my comfort zone now. I have got one foot out and one foot in and Ihave got to pull the rest of my body out and let go of all the ties that held mylife together for eighteen years. In a lot of senses I had to let go of them andjust let myself go. I was struggling with that at LAX...We were all in a personalstruggle at that point. (Sawatsky, Int)With the overnight flight behind them the team arrived in Guatemala City airport tobe greeted by the faces of children whose early vocation is that of professional beggar. ForSawatsky and the film crew the first hours of the trip were the most intense. The ForceFour team, with Sawatksy carrying some of their film equipment, were immediatelydetained by customs officials who wished to capitalize on their situation (Sawatsky, lnt).Separated from the rest of the group, the four individuals were brought into aninterrogation room with young soldiers brandishing machine guns and a team of officers thatdemanded a five thousand dollar fee for permission to bring the film equipment into thecountry. For the next hour the leader of the film crew, who was conversant in Spanish,negotiated a way out of paying any sort of bribe. Instead, they departed under the conditionthat if any piece of the equipment went missing during their tour they would be arrestedwhen they attempted to leave Guatemala (Sawatsky, Int). The team was forced to sign everypiece of equipment onto their passports. Sawatsky had some very vivid recollections of92these crisis ridden moments:You felt very threatened by these people. I immediately thought I am dead. Allof my fears are coming true. I am going to die. I’m in this very tiny customsroom. Well, we had about eighty thousand dollars worth of film equipmentwith us...The rest of the team was fearing for our lives while they waited forus outside. They had no idea what had happened to us. They were already outthe door when we were detained. So there was some sweating and some heartbeating...To bring up the first emotion you learn: it was the first time in mylife that I had brushed, or in my own mind, I brushed death. (Sawatsky, Int)The rest of the trip would prove to be more placid, but nonetheless intense andtransformative as a learning experience.The first few days of the trip were spent touring Guatemala City and Antigua with twoguides, Guillermo and Francisco Mendoza, who were connected to the orphanage throughAngie Galdamez. The group was firmly in “tourist mode” as Sawatsky defined it (Sawatsky,ml). While in Antigua the group was able to relieve the pressing urge to shop for anassortment of cultural trinkets from Maya street vendors who populated the stores andstreet markets of this old city. In Antigua the group finally met up with Juan Mario who hadbeen transferred from Casa Guatemala to a foster home linked to a Catholic hospital in thecity (Sawatsky, ml). Juan Mario greeted the group decked out in an assortment of Stevestonparaphernalia which had been sent to him over the years of sponsorship. From here thegroup went to visit an orphanage sponsored by the Catholic Church. While it was not ahighlight of the tour by any means, the visit provided a solid point of reflection andcomparison to the orphanage they would work at on the Rio Oulce. As Sawatsky remembered:Now this was a far cry from wh you *i picture an orphanage to be andwe drew our contrast to Guatemala from this orphanage. It was very key forus to go to this. The Catholic Church had bought a hotel very cheaply duringthe years in which there was a lot of political unrest and tourism was downand this hotel sold out II was quite the luxury hotel, glass conservatorybuildings and that kind of thing which served as a school now. These bays, Itwas a boys orphanage, lived in a high bit of luxury for Guatemala, which isone of the greater ironies I faced in my lifetime, but one of the greatestcontrasts we drew was that this orphanage had a steady supply of money93coming to it from the Church and we would later realize that Angie didn’t havethat major backer or name backer behind her. She lived day to day withdonations from average people like us and the level of life in those twoorphanages were compared by us quite a lot through our thoughts anddiscussions. (Sawatsky, Int)Another event that Sawatsky recalled involved the backfire of a car engine while thegroup was travelling on the roads around Antigua. This experience demonstrated thelingering sense of danger that still existed in the minds of their Guatemalan hosts.It sounded like a gunshot and Francisco and Guillermo, sitting in the front seat,panicked in a sort of sense. They were gibbering away in Spanish, quicklylooking around and there was a very high level of tension with them that I feltand it probably was a gunshot. You could see in that, the underlying thingsthat happen in Guatemala. There is immediately, when they hear somethingthat sounds like a gunshot, they were scared and you kind of had a little understanding of the political situation that is not seen up front. There are rumoursof death squads. I personally believe them to exist, but you don’t encounterthem right in your face in society there, but, judging from the reaction thatFrancisco and Guillermo had they are real and they are there. (Sawatsky, Int)On the fifth day the crew set out for the site of the Rio Dulce orphanage on a busorganized through the travel agency in Guatemala. The six hour bus ride took the groupeastward, completely to the other side of the country following the pathway of the RioMatague which cuts through village after village and the lands of the United Fruit Company.Shortly before the group reached their destination the bus broke down. What transpiredfrom this usually frustrating circumstance was one of the most revealing learningexperiences of the entire trip:Here we are on a major highway with a broken down bus. A bunch of NorthAmericans. What would happen in North America? Well, when I see somebody broken down on the side of a road I drive by. There wasn’t a car thatdrove by in our direction that didn’t stop and at least look out the windowand see if they could help us. I am not exaggerating when I say that. Everybody wanted to see if they could help us in some way. Now, two transit busesof some sort stopped. The first one stopped for quite a while and there was amechanic aboard and they waited for him for about twenty minutes to half anhour and you think about what happens to us when that happens...They justwaited very patiently and when they realized that the mechanic on their buswasn’t going to have our bus fixed they just drove off and he stayed. I am quite94sure that he had a woman and a family to go to and, yet, he was very willing tohelp us. We immediately started discussing amongst ourselves the willingsacrifices that people make for perfect strangers. It was so foreign to us andit was something that we didn’t understand...We talked about it that night as agroup and it was incomprehensible to us because it is not behaviour that’s notexhibited in our lives ever. (Sawatsky, lnt)Finally reaching the Catamaran Hotel that day, the crew was ready to go up river thefollowing morning and start their work at the orphanage.Running to the edge of the docks yelling, IiGringosH and “Hola,” the children of theorphanage quickly whisked the Canadian students, teachers and film crew off to play gamesand see their home. For the next five days the team set about working on the various tasksthey had prepared for. In some instances they were surprised to discover jobs that hadn’tbeen anticipated. Frank Price and two of the students performed a series of water qualitytests on the fish ponds and deduced that there were too many tadpoles in the hatchery. Thiswas inhibiting the growth and multiplication of the tilapia due to reduced oxygen levels inthe water (Force Four Productions, 1991). Their next job was to repair the situation byscooping out hundreds of thousands of the little beasts and training the children to do thesame. Carkner, Sawatsky and the other students worked on several projects that weekincluding moving a water pump, improving the plumbing and drainage of the septic systemunderneath one of the dormitories, as well as painting some of the buildings. Sawatskyrecalled this week of work as the most intensive manual labour that he had ever performedin his life up to that point (Sawatsky, Int). At various periods throughout their visit theteam took time to play and interact with the children. Some of the students instructedmathematics and music lessons in Spanish for the children.Throughout the week the team grew to appreciate the centrality of the orphanage inthe local Maya [Ketchi] community of Los Brisas. They also gained a clear appreciation forthe extreme limitations of their ability to transform the living standards of their new95friends, especially in so short a time (Sawatsky, ml). This perception was aided by anemerging understanding of the school/community relationship within its social and politicalcontext. Not only were the village inhabitants’ perceived as highly self-supportive, but theconditions of their shared struggle were also recognized. Far from being the helplessrecipients of aid and “know-how” from the nations of the North, these people were seen asactive participants in their fight for an education and a better way of life:The biggest plus that we observed at the orphanage was the school. The schoolservices not only the forty or so orphans that are there but about one hundredand twenty to one hundred and forty children from the surroundingcommunities. This orphanage becomes a focus of attention for the communityaround it. You find a lot of people, fathers and mothers, coming out to help atthe orphanage in their spare time, building things and doing odd jobs. Thatprovides free education for their children. They see the orphanage as kind ofa central point for all the communities that are around...These children get aneducation which is provided for by Angie...Ten percent of the kids get aneducation in Guatemala. (Sawatsky, Int)Comments like this also reflect a degree of growth in the substance of their knowledgeregarding the culture and society that they were periodically immersed in. Their exposureto the orphanage also had a significant impact on the way they reflected on their own beliefsand the collective values of the society they came from. The transformation in hisperceptions of the “Third World” were beginning to come full circle as Sawatsky laterrecalled:We were actually working side by side with them. We weren’t trying to bethe big North American teachers. We were actually, whether we realized itor not, we were on the same level, doing the same jobs and performing thesame menial tasks that they did every day. That really made it easy for themto accept us. I think that in those moments we suddenly realized that we don’thave anything to give these people. Really and truly, we are probably, if anything, inferior to them in a lot of ways because of their work ethic and theirability to work for the good of the community and everybody pitches in andhelps and materialism is totally irrelevant. There is not enough money to beearned for anyone to get ahead so they don’t bother anyway. They all work tohelp each other. (Sawatsky, lnt)One of the most intense outcomes from the period at the orphanage was the emotional96bonding with the children. This development, in itself, provided an entire realm of lessonsfor the students. In one sense, their growing attachment to the children of the Rio Dulceorphanage began to symbolize their rejection of the clinical detachment with which theirsociety and education portrayed the lives of people in “underdeveloped nations.” Faith intheir society’s ideology of “aid” as a humanitarian gift for the poor masses of the “ThirdWorld” was being undermined and reformulated. Capturing the essence and dynamics of thetransformation of his own perspectives, Sawatsky said this about the final departure fromthe orphanage:There are very few moments in my life that I would say were as emotional asthat time, which strikes me as very strange because we were only there forsuch a short time. The emotional bonds were very heavy, maybe because wehad placed so many preconceptions on this trip. I don’t know but there were alot of tears which seems strange to say that, but there was and the boat ridehome was very quiet...l don’t think that anyone realized what had beenhappening to us. We had been indoctrinated here in a subconscious way. ..Youknow we didn’t teach them anything. We didn’t go and do anything for themother than we all became friends and through all of this, which is probably afar greater affect than us trying to teach them anything anyway. So there wasa high level of emotion when we left, but there was a knowledge that we hadestablished something. (Sawatsky, Int)With the experiences of the five days at the Rio Dulce orphanage suddenly over, thegroup was thrust back into “tourist mode”. One of the last days of the trip was spent visitingthe town of Livingston which is located at the western terminus of the Rio Dulce on theCaribbean coast of Guatemala. In contrast to the Latino population of Guatemala City and theMaya peasants who occupy the vast majority of rural highland areas of the country,Livingston i a predominantly black community whose forbearers constituted the slavelabour force of the regions plantations during colonial times. While this historical contextmay not have come to mind for the students, Livingston represented a stark contrast to theculture they had witnessed in other parts of Guatemala. For the students, the real value inthis brief excursion came in the knowledge that Guatemalan society was composed of a far97more complex cultural base than they had previously anticipated:Uvingston is down on the Caribbean; on the Gulf. It is a counter culturecommunity where instead of being Hispanic or Indian like the rest ofGuatemala is, all these communities are a Caribbean negro type communitylike Jamaica. they play the reggae music and they speak the weirdcombination of whatever it is. French of whatever else they all speak.They were actually more hostile towards us than anyone else we everencountered. I am not really sure why. (Sawatsky, lnt)The day after the events in Livingston, the group returned by bus to Guatemala City. Byrequest, the last hours of their visit to Guatemala were spent in Antigua because of itsrelative charm and antiquity compared to the capital city. Returning to the hotel that nightthe group evaluated what they had experienced over the last two weeks and pondered thejourney home:None of us wanted to leave. We had really grown attached to this society, thiscountry, this group of people that we had encountered and we didn’t want tocome home, which, judging from our emotions ten days earlier, you wouldn’thave guessed that. You would have thought that we all wanted to come homebut we didn’t. Now became the time when we all tried to understand all thevarious things that we tried to understand; all the various emotional thingswe were struggling with. So, really we were beginning a whole new situation...lt was a really lousy feeling. (Sawatsky, lnt)Their arrival back in British Columbia brought forth a dose of “culture shock” andthe beginning of a process of re-orientation to North American society. On the way homefrom the airport Sawatsky recalled visiting a massive supermarket and being overwhelmedby the incredible abundance of goods on the shelves. As he referred to it, “I stood there andlooked at it for a while and it seemed so wrong,” (Sawatsky, Int). Throughout the week aftertheir return home the group was interviewed by throngs of reporters who announced thestory of their visit in local newspapers and television programs. One local newspaperarticle headlined, “School of Life: Guatemala Visit Humbles Students,” (CE) and chronicled avariety of conclusions they had already made regarding their experiences. One segmentfocused on three of the student’s observations:98A talk with [names of the students], centers around exploded myths and mediamisconceptions about Guatemala. All three students are evidently in awe ofthe Guatemalan culture, stressing that we have much to learn from thepeople’s sense of family and community. And the students seem almost embarrassed about the misconceptions they carried with them on the trip.. .‘Peoplein Guatemala are getting an unfair shake, because North Americans considerthemselves to be so high and mighty that they can make these statements thatare totally unfounded,’ said Sawatsky.6To a greater or lesser extent, the experience in Guatemala had been a transformative one foreach individual involved. Two years after the event Sawatsky would summarize the personaland collective impact of the journey. In this statement he identifies the substance anddirection of change in his life perspective:What happened there for the six of us was going to establish how we establisheda sense of ourselves. Now, as we have become older and established who we areit plays a key role in establishing who we are because there are intangibles thatcome up down there that don’t come up in our society and you have to be affectedby it. There is no way of getting around that. Intangibles such as the valuesystems they have and the value systems we have. You have to incorporate bothphilosophies into who you are. If you grow up in North America predominantlyand never leave it and never see another value system, whatever you do is goingto be based on those value systems. You are going to be somewhat materialistic.Your motivation for doing things is going to be different than the motivation fordoing things that the Guatemalans have. Once you have seen that and experiencedthat you have to take that into your way of thinking and we all did. We all cameback with somewhat different life goals I think, overall than when we went down.I really thought that I would follow in my big brothers footsteps; be a lawyertype and my motivation was that lawyers make a lot of money so I want to be alawyer. In my young teenage mind that was my justification for doing that. Iwent to Guatemala and realized that having money is not the be all and end all oflife, because all these people I met are very poor by my standards, yet, in a lotof ways they are more happy or as happy as everybody I know here. So what isgoing on here. Something is wrong as far as our thinking. You have to strugglewith this as a person...l think you come to a different perspective on life.(Sawatsky, Int)With the immediate success and lessons of the first trip behind them, thecoordinating team of the Casa Guatemala Project began to plan for the return trip the6 See article “School of life: Guatemala visit humbles students” in Richmond Review,7(1 7), April 8, 1990. p.1 and p.11.99following year. Although a follow-up trip had been suggested for the summer months, theidea was dropped due to concerns about the proximity of such an endeavour and the quality ofa trip that would coincide with the height of the rainy season in Guatemala (CE). What wasmost valuable to the Casa Guatemala team at this point was the broader community supportand knowledge of success that had grown up around the program over the past year.Carkner, the teachers and students of Steveston High had demonstrated, with great success,how important their direct and continued link to the orphanage was to the education of bothcommunities. With the power of such an experience behind Carkner and his team, planswere already being made for expansion and improvement which would unfold during the nextfew months.3.4 Expanding Horizons: A Period of Consolidation and Re-evaluation (1990.1992)The fall semester of 1990 brought new challenges to the staff organizing teams. BobCarkner was in a new school environment at Richmond Senior High School while hiscounterpart, Roy Akune, began his placement at Steveston. The transition was not an easyone for either party. Meanwhile, Carkner set out to build on the progress of the previousyear. Throughout the summer and early fall period he was successful in lobbying for themaintenance of the travel/work experience as a central part of the overall project.Furthermore, he had managed to expand the scope of involvement in the program bybringing the other two senior high schools in the district “on board,” as he often states(Carkner, ml). The expansion of the project into the other schools was relatively easy forhis administrative counterparts to accept and implement. In essence, all three schools nowagreed to send four students and one teacher to Guatemala with this year’s travellingcontingent. This expansion also meant that all three schools would, by necessity, be drawn100into promotional, educational and fundraising efforts surrounding the project. Once again,Carkner had succeeded in transforming the project and expanding its base of support. Thenew framework was also important to the administration and staff at the various schoolsbecause it provided a much needed venue for developing an environment of cooperation(Carkner, Int). This prospect was particularly appealing to the staff of Richmond High andSteveston because of the intense history of athletic competition that had been fosteredbetween the two institutions over the years. McNair Senior High embraced the tn-schooltheme with a great amount of optimism, primarily as a result of the work of one of theteachers at the school, Jane Spearing, who was a long time supporter of the program’sdirection and had been active on the periphery in years past.The requirements of the administrative transition period during the fall of 1990 atSteveston placed the Casa Guatemala Project off the centre stage. Roy Akune needed time tosettle into the his new environment and forge a place for his own vision of the school. In themeantime, the teaching staff that had been so essential to the success of the project theprevious year continued to work on fundraising and promotional activities in Carkner’sabsence (Seney, Int). The new framework of the Remembrance Day Ceremony at Stevestonwas set in a series of breakfast meetings held by the organizing committee (Seney, IC). Thatyear, the tele-conference with Angie Galdamez was replaced by a speech from arepresentative of one of the many refugee families from Guatemala living in the Richmondcommunity. The new format of the service was a big success in the eyes of the teachers whohad coordinated it, but the strong, personal link to the orphanage had faded somewhat(Seney, Int). With the initial excitement and novelty of the travel/education format of theprogram now past, fewer students came forth to volunteer their participation in CasaGuatemala Project in the fall of 1990. In fact, the number of candidates who applied for theGuatemala trip dropped to less than one quarter of the previous year’s level. Far from being101a project that defined the very heart and spirit of Steveston during the previous year, theCasa Guatemala Project reverted to a more balanced status within the broader extracurricular framework of the school.During this same time period, Carkner was facing an even tougher set of marchingorders at Richmond High. The transfer had shaken a large part of his spirit and enthusiasmas an administrator and educational leader (Seney, lnt). To this was added the fact that thestaff at Richmond High, with a few exceptions, did not associate with the history of theprogram. If the cause of Casa Guatemala was to be elevated to the great heights experiencedat Steveston, then Carkner was going to have to build it from the ground up. Richmond Highwas a school whose pride lay in the success of its athletics programs, basketball especially.Global education and international issues were topics that only existed in the classrooms of afew select teachers in journalism and social studies (Carkner, Int). The school already hada full slate of extracurricular programming and this made finding space and support for theCasa Guatemala Project even more of a hurdle. With all of this, it was clear that it wasgoing to take several years to introduce the program successfully at Richmond. Staffmembers needed to be actively recruited to help build a place for the program within theschool’s culture. Ken Lorenz, one of the main advocates for the program in the early days atLondon Junior High was already on staff at Richmond Senior High when the transfer ofprincipals took place. The prospect of travelling to Guatemala was the best lure that Lorenzand Carkner had to draw in larger numbers of staff to the program. As had been the case inthe past, Carkner engineered the implementation of the Remembrance Day Ceremony towork as his declaration of intent at Richmond High. That November the assembly went offwithout a hitch, and the response to this emotional appeal was promising. Several staffmembers, who witnessed the service, stepped forward and volunteered their support andactive participation in promoting Casa Guatemala at the school (Carkner, Int). If the past102few months had represented a period of relative doubt concerning the future of the programin the expanded form, it was now abundantly clear to Carkner that those tears were largelyunfounded. The way was now clear to strengthen the foundations of the project in thedistrict’s three senior high schools.By the late fall, a fifteen member travel team had been selected for the return trip toGuatemala in March of 1991. Included in this were representative students and one teacherfrom each school. Fundraising events had been successful, but less effective during the firstsemester even though several junior high and elementary schools had been brought into thefold of the overall campaign. The prime factor in this trend was the strong decline of effortsat Steveston (Seney, Int). On January 17, 1991 the United Nations Forces launched the“Desert Storm” offensive on Iraq. District administration immediately placed a ban on anyinternational travel programs for students (Carkner, lnt). With great disappointment thetour to Guatemala was cancelled, but a team of teachers headed by Ken Lorenz decided to goahead with an expanded staff contingent and visit the orphanage during the same period inMarch. Carkner decided to capitalize on the changed agenda by bringing along four teachersfrom Richmond High. Their participation in the venture could only assist in promotingsupport for the project at Richmond High. The focusing task adopted for the tour was theproduction of an information and promotional booklet which detailed the history of theorphanage, the tn-school project and pictures of the children who were the object of all thefundraising efforts (Carkner, Int). This booklet was then to be used to establish private orpublic sponsorships in the community and to clearly lay out the mission and intent of theproject in years to come.In the meantime, Force Four Productions was putting the finishing touches on thecommissioned video. Working from over thirty hours of footage from the 1990 tour, theproduction team managed to reduce the screening time to twenty seven minutes. The video103entitled Guatemala Journal was ready for a premier viewing in early February of 1991.Carkner had great expectations in mind for the new production. For Carkner, the videorepresented the natural sequel to A Memory and A Vision. Once again, the goal was todistribute the tape in order to proliferate the concept of the Casa Guatemala Project to otherhigh schools in British Columbia (Carkner, Int). Hopefully, the new production would alsorekindle the intensity of media coverage of the project and in so doing, would spark renewedenthusiasm and pride in the expanded tn-school effort.The debut of the film took place on a cold and dreary mid-February evening at atheatre facility in a local government office which housed a big screen television. A cross-section of the community attended this premiere including the local mayor, school boardtrustees, district administrators, refugee families, parents, teachers and students(Carkner, IC). In fact it was a congregation of all those community members who hadparticipated in the success of the program to dale. It was a moment of immense pride forCarkner and the student participants of the 1990 tour. In the same vein as the previousvideo, this production centered on the emotional impact and appeal of the experience. If theproduction of the video symbolized anything for those in attendance that evening, it was thefact that the Casa Guatemala was firmly established and, indeed, thriving as a result of thecollective efforts of those in the audience.Over the next six months the video was distributed to a variety of television stationsand received extensive air time on both local and national networks. Youth Television, TheKnowledge Network and Vision Television played the largest role in presenting the video tothe public through repeated broadcasts of the tape (Carkner, lnt; Sawatsky, IC). Theresponse to this new production was overwhelming. Interested groups and individualstelephoned and wrote Carkner directly to receive further information on the project.Donation upon donation was submitted to the cause from individuals in the immediate104community who had, in the past, been totally unassociated with the project. Requests forconference presentations from global educational forums across Canada arrived on Carkner’sdesk (Carkner, Int). In the most profound sense the video had worked to expand the base ofsupport for Casa Guatemala to new constituencies and had revitalized the mission of theproject within local schools. This event also marked a clear turning point in the direction ofencouragement from district administration.The progress made with the release of the video was added to by the success of theteacher’s tour of Guatemala and the orphanage in March of that year. The eight personcontingent returned with a new round of tales and great enthusiasm for the project. Whileon site at the orphanage the group managed to gather all the necessary information for thepromotional booklet. Each of the orphan’s photos was taken and coupled with a shortpersonal anecdote. In addition to their research the group delivered a cheque for slightlyover six thousand dollars to Angie Galdamez for the children of the orphanage (CF). Eventhough students had not participated in the 1991 tour, the teachers’ visit inevitably workedto secure the future of the project within the school district. A larger number of staff hadwitnessed the impact of the fundraising efforts first hand and added their own testimoniesregarding the value of the tour when they returned home. The choir of experienced adultadvocates had grown larger as a result. The booklet, which had been the focusing project forthe teachers’ group, would take another year to publish but would prove to be at least aseffective in advancing the cause of the project as the professional video.All the conditions for the continuation of Casa Guatemala were firmly in place in thethree schools with the arrival of 1991-1992 academic year. At Steveston, Roy Akune haddecided to revamp the staff selection committee process which was a sign of progress to allindividuals involved at the school. Dave Gautier had worked closely with Akune during thelast twelve months, where other teachers had faded into the background. With hindsight it105appears that Gautier’s vigilance and enthusiasm may have served as a critical factor inestablishing the principal’s interest and involvement in Casa Guatemala (Seney, IC). Thestrongest indication of this change of heart was Akune’s announcement that he was going toparticipate in the upcoming tour to Guatemala (Seney, Int). This gesture was even moreappropriate because Steveston had ended up with six students on the tour roster as a resultof student withdrawals. McNair High was still sending the alloted contingent of fourstudents, but Richmond High only managed to secure two members for the team. ForRichmond High this was a repeat scenario from the last year. While Carkner had done aneffective job eliciting a sufficient degree of staff participation this was evidently not thecase within the student body, at least not as far as involvement in the educational tour wasconcerned. Several factors may have accounted for this trend. Almost all of the studentswho withdrew from the program after the selection process was completed did so as a resultof financial constraints. The price tag for participation on the trip was now reaching thetwo thousand dollar mark for the students and had to be raised privately. Whether or notpeople agreed with this stance, Carkner insisted that all fundraising be held in directsupport of the orphanage and not for trip expenses. This was a position that Carkner hadadopted for instructional and philosophical reasons:Fundraising has got to be for the orphanage. The kids, as far as their expensesto go down there, they have to find on their own. That has been an interestingsort of side comment but the fact that in our schools there are a lot of peoplewho are fundraising for themselves, to pay for a trip, to pay for footballjackets or basketball jackets. I think as educators we should change that. Imean I’ve been guilty of that so I can say it without putting blame on anybody.I think that when people are doing fundraising and asking the community todig into their pocket it should be for charitable things, some worthy cause.(Carkner, Int)Regardless of this rationale, even keen students at Richmond High were having a tough timeovercoming this financial barrier. In addition, Casa Guatemala had to compete with theestablished momentum of other dominant athletic programs at Richmond High (Carkner,106Int). In this sense, not only were economic constraints effecting the degree of enthusiasmbut the very essence of the political emphasis of the Casa Guatemala Project was at odds withthe established mission of the school. Potentially interested students were being asked towalk the line between more self-serving aims and more humanitarian ones. In the shortrun, students were willing to become involved in fundraising events for the project butwere not lining up to compete for the few spaces available on the tour. Changing thedirection of this prevailing sentiment would require a major piece of salesmanship. In themeantime, however, Steveston had a continuing stream of students willing to suffer theuncertainty of a waiting list to get a position on the trip.By early December of 1991 the third student and teacher team had been selected andthe schools had already collectively raised the equivalent of last year’s donation for theorphanage. Three days before the Christmas break, Carkner received an emergency callfrom Angie Galdamez who informed him that the roof over the children’s dormitory hadcollapsed, the children were sleeping in tents and they needed three thousand dollars tocomplete the necessary repairs (Carkner, Int). If Carkner ever needed a test of support forthe project, then this was it. Within days he was able to pull together the necessary funds,primarily as a result of an overwhelming response on behalf of the staff at the threeschools. The fundraising that year continued to expand through a variety of other activitiesincluding a peanut sale put on by the business education department at Richmond High(Carkner, Int). The school cafeteria at Richmond High put on a Guatemalan dinner completewith entertainment and speakers for twenty dollars a head which generated a sizeabledonation on its own. In the wake of all these events it was clear that the Casa GuatemalaProject had inadvertently provided a means to integrate “development education” in suchunusual subject areas as business studies and home economics.The first tn-school student tour of Guatemala took place in March of 1992. The107itinerary of the program was altered slightly from the first year but covered much of thesame ground. This time it included a two day visit to Flores and the ancient Maya ruins atTikal which required a return flight to the northeastern province of Peten from GuatemalaCity. This excursion took place as part of the first week of the trip which was more clearlyspent in “tourist mode,” visiting Antigua and Chichicastenango, as well other sites (Eng,lnt). During this first week the group also visited Casa Guatemala’s house for newborns andinfants in Guatemala City which added to their understanding of the total operation.The last segment of the tour was spent painting the new school library at the RioDulce site which had been built by funds generated as part of this years project for theorphanage. No work took place in support of the tilapia fish farm which had provided such astrong justification and link for the first team in 1990. The deletion of the fish hatchery asthe focusing project for the tour was necessary, primarily because it would center attentionon the expertise of participants from Steveston High once again. From the lessons gained bythe first group it was also clear that the fish farm was an inappropriate centerpiece in lightof lack of expertise and commitment to the maintenance of the facilities at the Rio Dulce site.Carkner and crew had discovered through the previous trips that the school was the mostvaluable resource for the local community and would, henceforth, be the sole object of theirattention. Even so, the new task of painting buildings did not provide the same sense ofmission or depth of connection to the success of the orphanage as working with the tilapiafish farm had, according to Jill Poulton (Poulton, Int; Seney, Int). This may have been apositive thing from the perspective that it undermined the tendency to view the orphanagecommunity as the fortunate recipients of enlightened beneficence and superior know-howfrom Richmond. However, others, such as Poulton and Seney, saw this as a significant lossin the intensity of the practical support provided for the orphanage by the program in thefirst year of the tour (Poulton, lnt).108For the Canadian students, though, the experience in Guatemala continued to have astrong impact on the depth of their knowledge and nature of their perceptions of this countryand its people. Tony Eng was one of two male students who travelled with the group andrepresented McNair High that year. He viewed the video Guatemala Journey prior to hisdeparture and was, in some ways, anticipating the change of perspective that the filmsuggested would emerge from the course of involvement (Eng, Int). One of the morepredictable things that came out of his exposure to Guatemala during those two weeks wasthe richness in the detail in which he described scenes from life in the country (Eng,Journal). Like Ray Sawatsky, Tony Eng made special note of the bonding process with thechildren of the orphanage and what this signified for his own sense of alienation from thelifestyle of the “First World” (Eng, Int). Upon his return home he wrote about thesefeelings:The thing that amazed me was that these children still enjoyed their lives, eventhough they were orphans and had no family. They were forced to rely on eachother for support and the volunteers who came to the orphanage. On that day weall became attached to the orphans emotionally and they became attached to us. Ithink that I took it upon myself to take care of Cynthia for the duration of myvisit and I tried to do everything I could to make her happy. You know, in ourlives, we don’t get many chances to really become attached to a person, but inthose few hours in which we knew each other a bond was developed between usthat I will cherish for a long, long time. (Eng, Journal)What Tony did not foresee was the manner in which the experience would alter his previousperceptions of his peers that even he admits were incredibly negative. He observed therealization of this changing critique as follows:...the students that I went with they did really well, It is good to know, though,that there are people in the world who really care. They are not so selfobsessed or absorbed in their own personal realities. They are willing to takethe time out and help somebody else just for the sake of helping. That is why wewent down there and there weren’t any ulterior motives. That was the onlyreason they went down there and that is good to know. It puts a positive spin onteenagers now. ..Teenagers these days do basically get a bad rap and a lot of peopledo think that teenagers are, indeed, scum. It is good to know that there are teen-109agers in the world who want to help and they do want to do something worthwhilebecause as long as there are people like that there is always hope for the future.(Eng, Int)The comments throughout his interview and in his journal reveal a deep sense of personaltransformation from the experiences in Guatemala, especially in regards to an improvedattitude towards and relationship with his peers. While the nature of the impact on Eng hassimilarities to the accounts of other students, he also stresses specific aspects which aremore personally relevant (Eng, Journal). Eng circulated these testimonies in a publishedform at his school several months later. This journal served to solidify the staff’s sense ofaccomplishment in bringing home another successful educational tour of Guatemala.Roy Akune returned from the tour with an extremely positive account of theexperience. During his visit he was overwhelmed by the lack of medical care available tothe orphanage community and on returning to British Columbia entertained the idea ofarranging material and professional support for the Rio Dulce clinic (Carkner, Int). Asecond force affecting his response came from a far more personal context. While workingat the Rio Dulce site he was introduced to a young Ketchi student that came from the localvillage of Los Brisas and attended the orphanage school. He was immediately taken byGuillermo’s ability to speak English and his academic aptitude, especially in Akune’s ownteaching specialty of science. Through GuiNermo, Akune was able to realize the value ofwhat the three senior high schools were involved in at the orphanage, as well as acomparative understanding of the lack of educational opportunity available to the vastmajority of Guatemalan children. Reflecting his sense of enthusiasm, Akune also came upwith the idea of bringing GuiNermo back to Steveston the following year to advance hissecondary education (Seney, Int). While he may not have clearly understood the complexityand ramifications of the proposal he was considering, it was obvious that the bond withGuillermo deepened Akune’s commitment to the project. When the group returned from110Guatemala that March, Akune added his voice of support to the program. Carkner, needlessto say, was extremely pleased to have his fellow administrator “come on board”(Carkner, IC).Over the past three years the program had undergone tremendous growth andalteration. Two of the three senior high school principals in the district were advocates ofthe project. The third principal, while not involved in the promotion of the program at hisschool, was at least nominally supportive. On the surface, district adminstration seemedmore tolerant of Casa Guatemala and regularly attended promotional events (Carkner, Int;Seney, lnt). Several junior secondary and elementary schools in the area were added to thegrowing list of program supporters, initiated fundraising campaigns and child sponsorshipprograms of their own. Several schools outside the district had expressed an interest indoing the same (Carkner, lnt). One private school in the region made preliminary plans totravel to the orphanage the following spring. This active proliferation of this idea wasexactly what Carkner had in mind:I mean we’re one school, one candle lit. If we could get others to become involvedthen we are really going to have an impact. Our long term goal is to have everyschool in the province doing something linked to global education. (Carkner, Int)In the meantime, preparations continued for the tour and events of the 1992-1993 year.The goals for the program were elevated, once again, to include a record breaking tenthousand dollar fundraising campaign that would be directed at building an addition to theschool at the orphanage (CE). At the same time the publication of Casa Guatemala:Developing A Global Perspective was completed and a thousand copies of the promotionalbooklet were distributed to sponsor groups, schools and individuals throughout thecommunity. This booklet documented the record of accomplishments and the impact that theRichmond community project was having on the children of the orphanage. The project wasentering its fourteenth year and had succeeded in ways that Carkner, Poulton and others111would never have believed possible.3.5 Future Considerations For The Casa Guatemala ProjectIn retrospect, the history of the Casa Guatemala Project underscores the crucial role ofadministrative leadership to ensure the successful implementation and development ofexperiential projects of this type. This does not mean that teachers and staff members inthe various schools did not play an essential role in the establishment and growth of theproject. However, without leadership capable of paving the way for their collective effortsthis project would have either plateaued at a stage of more modest goals or folded during theearly years of its evolution. The Casa Guatemala program was built on a series of successfultransitions that have allowed the project to expand and incorporate several highlycontentious changes in direction. It began as a relatively simple and easily manageable childsponsorship program in one junior high school in 1979. Over the next decade the scope ofthe program grew incrementally to the point were the organizers felt comfortable enough toattempt the quantum step forward which was embodied by the first visit to the Guatemalanorphanage in the spring of 1990. The necessity of administrative leadership throughoutthe history of Casa Guatemala also brings into focus the future prospects of the project inthe absence of a leader with Carkner’s vision and persistence.7 The rapid deterioration ofthe program at London Junior High in the aftermath of his transfer to Steveston in 1982 isa case in point. If Casa Guatemala is going to maintain the ground it now holds in this schooldistrict it is going to have to do so with the assistance of administrators who share Carkner’sfundamental humanitarian commitment and comprehension of the educational value of theprogram.Bob Carkner was in his final year as a principal within the Richmond School District whenthis chapter was written. However, he maintains the status of consultant with the districtfor the 1994-1995 academic year.112There is also a question in regard to the student clientele that supports andparticipates in the various events held in the name of Casa Guatemala. Involvement in thepromotional and fundraising activities is far from unanimous or equally consistent withinthe collectivity of students in the schools. Steveston, because of its long history andidentification with the project, overshadows the level of participation in the other twoschools. Since the program expanded to Richmond High in 1990 it has continually facedproblems fielding its quota of applicants for the tour to Guatemala. To this should be addedthe fact that the student clientele in the district is also rapidly changing in terms of theirethnicity and class background. This demographic transition may affect the program morethan any other single factor. One of the teachers interviewed at Steveston hesitantlysuggested that the rising proportion of immigrant students coming from Hong Kong andTaiwan hold very conservative values about “Third World” or development issues.Addressing the level of participation of these students in the program he noted the followingtrend:They’re less interested. That is a fact. At meetings they don’t attend. They arenot the ones who come to the meetings. They are not the ones who come to theslide presentations. They are not the ones who come to guest speakers. Youknow, it is an optional thing. People show up but they don’t come. Nowmaybe it is a language issue. Maybe we are not presenting it in a way that isconducive to their participation. I am not sure but that has changed. I think itis something that I am concerned about. (Seney, lnt)Casa Guatemala exists in these schools as one of many extracurricular options open to thestudents. It openly competes for their participation with other highly successful athletic,academic and specialty club programs. Even though the teachers active in Casa Guatemalamay be fully cognizant of the value and necessity of continued dedication to the project, theycontinually struggle to maintain the level of student and community interest in a period ofeconomic restraint.The past and future strength of the program rests on the broad base of support which11 3o_.has been established in the community throughout the many years of Casa Guatemala’sdevelopment. Parents, businesses and various community organizations have beenintegrated at various levels and times into the planning of events that have been held insupport of the project. As a result, the coordinators have experienced less of a strugglepromoting sponsorship events in recent years as an increasing number of individuals in thecommunity have come to personally identify with the success of Casa Guatemala. In thisrespect, Carkner and his team have done a very good job of marketing the aspirations of theproject through the use of the media and the dissemination of promotional booklets.Moreover, Casa Guatemala has been able to demonstrate directly how a “grassroots”development and educational project can be effective in establishing a constructive dialoguebetween communities of the First and “Third World” in a manner conducive to the goals ofglobal education and the broader sense of universal social justice.The impact of the Casa Guatemala Project on the quality of life provided for thechildren of the orphanage has been frequently articulated in public presentations by itsorganizers (Carkner, Int; Seney, lnt; Poulton, Int). The somewhat more difficult task thatremains is substantiating and explaining the educational merit of the project. If thetestimony presented by project alumni like Sawatsky and Eng are any indication, there aregrounds for believing that the experience of travelling to Guatemala and working at theorphanage, even though it is only for a brief time, holds the potential for intensivetransformation of individual and collective perspectives. Whether the focus of suchtransformation involves content, process or premise reflection is a matter which can onlybe verified through more precise, longitudinal research.11 3bChapter Four: The Students’ PerceptionsPrior to the Tour4.1 School Selection Process and Lead Up to the 1993 TourThe selection process got off to a late start in the fall of 1992 at Richmond Senior High andfollowed the same pattern as in previous years. Approximately seventeen students showedup for the initial information meeting in mid-October, but only five of these attended thesecond meeting with their parents one week later; all were female candidates and all were ingrade eleven or twelve.1 The students were asked to fill out resume sheets and write a briefessay, expressing their reasons for wanting to participate in the Casa Guatemala tour. Thestudents were also told that selection carried with it the responsibility of involvement infundraising activities held for the orphanage throughout the year. Several days later it wasapparent that interviews were not necessary at this school as only four students hadsubmitted applications and almost immediately, one of these students dropped out forfinancial reasons. Several days after this, Carkner was told by another of the remainingthree students that she too, was reasonably certain that she would be forced to do the same.In the end Richmond was only able to field two participants for the trip. This was somewhatdisappointing for Carkner because it indicated that while he had gained staff involvement andcommunity financial support, the strong message of global citizenship, manifest infundraising events, school promotions and the annual Remembrance Day Service, was stillnot getting through to the general student body -- as indicated by the lack of line up ofstudents eager to enroll in the excursion to Guatemala.Although the selection process at Richmond had failed to generate sufficient interest,1 All information contained in this chapter has been gathered through the researcher’sobservations of and participation in events, or through conversations with individualsdirectly connected to the program.114the same events at Steveston produced a much more encouraging level of student interest.Steveston had already established a confirmed roster of four student participants and awaiting list of four more from an initial body of close to twenty-five individuals. This hadoccurred while the other schools scrambled to fill their openings. In fact, the waiting list atSteveston was compiled in anticipation of problems in meeting the quotas at McNair andRichmond. The same shuffle to fill the twelve student positions had gone on the previousyear and was no surprise to Carkner or the other staff organizers. McNair Senior High wassending two male and two female students all of whom were in grade twelve. With somedegree of surprise, Tony Eng was repeating the trip as one of the four representatives fromthis school. His desire to return was a timely one for the selection committee at McNair asone of their selected candidates had declined for financial reasons. Regardless, no subsidieswere available to individuals who could not overcome the financial barrier. It appeared thatthe sizeable price tag for the tour was a major hurdle and a central component of theselection criteria at both Richmond and McNair. After a few weeks of discussion, it wasdecided that Steveston would receive the two remaining openings from Richmond High’scontingent. By the third week of November the final list of participants had been assembledfor the 1993 tour and the first meeting of the entire group was announced.The meeting took place on November 30th at McNair Senior High. All twelve students[ten female and two male] and the three supervising teachers were in attendance along withCarkner and other district staff who were involved in the project’s overall coordination.The agenda focused on administrative details surrounding payment and inoculation schedules,the proposed itinerary of the trip, as well as a review of fundraising events held to thatpoint. A sale of Guatemalan handicrafts at a local mall earlier that month had netted close to$1,500 [Cdn.] and provided the first forum for the students from all three schools to meetone another. This amount represented a significant chunk of the established goal of $9,000115[U.S.] which was to be used to build a three room extension to the orphanage grade school.As it turned out this was the only meeting of the group that would explore aspects ofthe political and historical context of Guatemala prior to the trip. Carkner briefly discussedthe record of human rights abuses in the country and suggested that the students read themost recent Amnesty International Report on Guatemala which outlined the “terribleconditions” which most people were forced to live under in the country. Somewhat moretime was spent outlining his expectations for the students. His explanation included sixbroad goals: a) modelling and sharing the experience with other students and schools, b)observing conditions in Guatemala and the daily realities of “Third World” poverty, c)developing an enriched perspective on the above with the aim of becoming “Wise GlobalCitizens”, d) seeing the impact of the Casa Guatemala Project with their own eyes, e) seeinghow the local community valued the operation of the school, and f) developing a sense ofmission towards “improving the conditions of the world.” These stated goals boiled down tothree key elements of personal growth for the students: [within the realm of internationaldevelopment issues] enrichment of their knowledge, changes in their values, andintensification of their disposition towards community advocacy and action. Students wereintroduced to the research project and the focus on their perceptions of the experience. Themeeting was adjourned with the knowledge that the group would assemble on two moreoccasions before they departed for Guatemala in March. These meetings were held to takecare of remaining administrative details, discuss packing requirements and participate inbasic conversational Spanish lessons. There was, decidedly, little opportunity for studentsto get better acquainted and forge a sense of collective engagement in the tasks that lay aheadof them. If the students were be involved in any further preparations then it was going to beat the request of individual schools or sponsor teachers.1164.2 The Students and Their Perceptions Prior to the DepartureIn the months leading up to the tour, only the staff at Steveston provided supplementaleducational sessions for their student participants beyond the fundraising campaign events.This was not surprising given that Bruce Seney had been asked by Bob Carkner and RoyAkune to lead the tour this year as the Steveston supervising teacher. His extensiveexperience in student travel was the primary factor in this decision as no administrativerepresentatives actively sought involvement in this year’s tour and the two other sponsoringteachers from Richmond and McNair had no experience in this kind of student travel. Seneywas very aware of the need to prepare the six student participants from his school. As aresult, these six students received several additional history lessons and Spanish classes inthe weeks prior to departure. Many of the students were also encouraged by Seney to becomeactive members in the International Issues Club at Steveston. One of the main tasks thisyear for the Club was to organize the annual Thirty Hour Famine for World Vision and tocoordinate Guatemala Week in February which had become somewhat of an institution sincethe school originated the tour to Guatemala in 1989. Furthermore, Mary CoIl, one of thestudent teachers who was working on her practicum in the social studies department underSeney’s supervision, had just returned from a year-and-a-half stint as a volunteer at theRio Dulce site of the Casa Guatemala orphanage and the Casa Alianza refuge in Guatemala City.Coil provided a rich source of background knowledge and, as a result of her directexperience, she acted as an important role model for many of the students at Steveston. Herconversations with the students had a substantial effect on the development of both theirpreconceptions and reflections regarding the upcoming adventure. This became obvious inthe students’ later interview sessions. Just weeks before the tour took place Seneydescribed the contingent of Steveston students in this manner:They are neat kids. ..a few of them especially are just perfect candidates for this.117They are already there in mind and spirit but they have not been there inexperience. So I am anxious to see how this will affect them. I think some ofthem will be even more committed to things like the international peace movement, human rights and a number of things. The kids that are going fromSteveston are already there. I am willing to bet that this experience inGuatemala will embellish that more. They will have an even stronger feelingabout it. (Seney, Int)From the interviews that took place throughout the two weeks prior to the departure date, itwas evident that the students from Steveston had, indeed, developed a much richerperception and understanding of the challenges and prospects. In contrast, the students atRichmond and McNair had experienced only brief encounters and discussions with formerparticipants or had managed to watch the Guatemala Journey video from the 1990 tour.Regardless of their background preparations and encounters, all of the students shared theperception that they were involved in a formative experience. While some of them reflectedon this in terms of career goals, others focused on changes in their values and perceptions oflife. Very few of the students could explain the exact dynamics of how or why these profoundchanges would take place as a result of two weeks in Guatemala, nor could they clearly orconvincingly articulate the value of these expected transformations. Nonetheless, theexpectation of “change” was clearly and consistently articulated by the students in the weeksleading up to the trip.What follows is a brief introduction to each of the students selected for the studysample.2 The individual poriraits have been constructed from information provided by areview their transcripts, journals, program applications and the researcher’s observationsof the first two interview sessions. What emerges from these data sources is a picture of a2 After the first round of independent interview sessions, the subjects were slotted intothe second round groupings which consisted of a section of individual interviews [sixstudents] and one group interview [four students]. Of the transcripts finally used in thisstudy, Alice Gibson, Jane Lamb, Tim Long and Holly Range participated in individualsessions. Kaily Soila and Linda Shaw were two of four subjects that remained in the groupinterview sessions.118group of individuals who correctly and uniformly understand their relative condition ofaffluence, who are capable students, possess different degrees of critical awareness and varyin their commitment to social change. The latter two orientations were reflected mostclearly in their perceptions of crucial issues and in the way they viewed their own society.Through this glimpse into the students’ perspectives on their “lifeworld” it was possible toestablish the common and distinctive ways that this group of individuals approached theirupcoming involvement in the Casa Guatemala Project.4.21 Linda Shaw: Social Status or Social JusticeLinda is an honour roll student in grade eleven at Steveston Senior High School. In her lastreport card she obtained a 3.5 grade point average and has repeatedly received academicawards since the seventh grade. Her favourite subject is, without doubt, English as she likescreative writing and poetry, but sciences also top her list as she admits becoming a marinebiologist is one of many potential career goals. To this end Linda would like to attenduniversity, in the United States if possible. Linda’s abilities, however, are not limited toacademic pursuits. She was a nationally ranked gymnast up until grade nine when shedecided to quit due to the strain on her personal life. Linda travelled extensively withnational and provincial teams throughout her competitive career to most major cities inCanada and she has also attended international meets in the United States, Bulgaria, Germanyand Taiwan. As a result, Linda understands that she is more travelled than the vast majorityof her peers. From these experiences she has developed a somewhat more sophisticated“lens” to construct an informed world view. Her interest in travel has also been stimulatedby her parents, both of whom worked as volunteers with the Peace Corps for two yearsduring the 1960’s.Linda is a very confident, happy and mildly extroverted person. She is popular with119her peers and has a number of close friends whom she socializes with on a regular basis.Like many teenagers she is relatively uncertain about many of the details regarding her longterm career goals and choices. What is interesting, though, is her struggle with wanting tomake a solid income and her desire to do something that contributes to the well-being ofsociety:J.S.: Do you have any sort of broader future goals, things that you seeyourself doing in the next twenty years?Linda: Hopefully, I’m making, I mean money is a big part of what I want whenI grow up. I want to be able to have it so I don’t have to worry about it like myparents, like everybody. It seems like they have to worry about having money.I want to find a job where I’m set to be able to do things that I want to do, but Iguess I also want to do something that makes me happy. Social work may notgive me a lot of money but I think it will be pretty beneficial. So I might dothat, maybe live in the States [she holds dual citizenship], I don’t know. I don’twant to get married. I never think about getting married, so I don’t know if I’dget married or not. (Shaw, lnt#1)3Beyond this relative uncertainty about her future aspirations, Linda exuded a sense ofcontentment with the state of affairs in her society. The problems that did exist werelargely external to her own community and country. In terms of domestic problems she wasmost concerned about environmental issues and the high ratio of marital breakups. On amore critical bent, she was able to draw upon the connection between the nature of povertyin the “Third World” and that which exists in her own society. This was most clearlydemonstrated to her through the living conditions of First Nations people in Canada. Lindaquestioned how this scenario could exist in a country of such pervasive wealth:Generally, I think, Canada is a great place. Some of their, I mean I still thinkthat the Indians or the Natives, sorry, deserve so much more than what they’regetting. They’re getting the short end of the deal, I think. Other than that, I3 For the purposes of documentation, the following interview abbreviations will apply:lnt#1 = first interview session prior to the trip (December, 1992 to January, 1993),lnt#2 = second interview session prior to the trip (February, 1993), lnt#3 = open-endedinterview sessions while in Guatemala (March, 1 993), lnt#4 = interview four afterreturning to Richmond (April, 1993).120mean there’s poverty still here, it’s just it’s not looked at, you know. It’slooked at different from other countries than it is before they look at the stuffhere. I think that should be realized, because before I read about it, I nevereven thought that people were starving in Canada, you just don’t see it. I don’tsee people starving in Canada. It seems like such a prosperous country. Andthere’s the other thing, there’s so much food and there’s so much money to goaround. (Shaw, lnt#1)Her comments reveal an ability to comprehend more abstract contradictions in globalpolitical economy and reflect a universal conception of human rights. Linda consistentlyexpresses concern and empathy towards individuals and groups that she feels are beingmarginalized. Also, she appears to clearly recognize her own abilities and good fortune inlife. Her involvement in a variety of volunteer activities within the school and communityhave significantly molded her perceptions of efficacy. When in grades seven and eight, shevolunteered to work with children in a summer daycare program at the local communitycentre where, at one time she was given the responsibility of working directly with a childwith Down’s Syndrome. During her junior high school years she peer tutored for studentsrequiring personal help or academic assistance. For the past two years she helped organizedWorld Vision’s Thirty Hour Famine with the International Issues Club at Steveston. Whenasked to explain why she was drawn to events like these and the Casa Guatemala Project shereplied with tones that underscored her sense of empathy:I have been to a lot of places around the world but I have never been to aThird World country where I want to see that kind of world and I want to,maybe, change the way I am. Not change the way I am, but change my viewsand stuff. I’ve talked to people who have gone there before and they soundeda lot different than they were before I talked to them, like before they hadgone. And the World Famine, I mean we learned about all these children whosuffered and malnourished and undernourished. I don’t know I just want toreally help them in a way and see, I don’t know, just put myself in theirshoes, I guess. (Shaw, lnt#1)While Linda perceived that she had the ability to “help” impoverished children it was alsocouched in a way that placed her own learning and development at the centre of this advocacy121perspective. Expanding on how the trip would be “helpful”, Linda emphasized theexpectation of personal growth from the experience. This internal focus, however, wasbalanced by her perception that the importance of their work with the orphanage lay in itsemotional solidarity with the children at the orphanage:Linda: ... I just feel I have to do something. I don’t know, I think it will bereally helpful to go there. I hope it will be helpful.J.S.: Be helpful in what sense?Linda: Well, so they know that people are actually out there wanting to helpthem, that the Guatemalans know that people actually want to be there for themand help them and know that they’re not being left alone. Also, it will helpbecause I don’t want to be so materialistic and sometimes I think that I am and Iknow I am. So hopefully I’d be able to go there and maybe shed some light ondifferent things.J.S.: Shed some light. You mentioned that before, ‘shed some light’. Whatdo you mean by ‘shed some light’?Linda: Just open my eyes up and make me understand. Make me understand thatRichmond isn’t the only place; that it’s not the only place and the money we haveis not what everybody else has and that people live so much differently and Idon’t even realize it. You know, we go day to day and I wanting for a pair of $85pants from my parents and their wanting for pants period. You know, I needshoes and I want $100 shoes. It’s just different. I just want to realize it formyself. (Shaw, lnt#1)Linda first heard of the Casa Guatemala project from her sister who hadunsuccessfully applied to the program at Steveston in 1991. Linda also talked at lengthabout the tour with one student who had been on the trip the previous year and emphasizedhow much the tour had “changed” this person’s life. The resulting conversation clearlydemonstrated the depth of Linda’s expectations for her own experience in the months prior tothe trip. When asked to provide specifics concerning her direct observations of the changesshe had witnessed in this friend, Linda had several tangible ideas in mind:Linda: She’s more down to earth now. She sees things differently than we dolike she’s not as materialistic. You can tell just by the way she dresses. Shelooks more environmentally, I don’t know, she is nicer now, too. She’s more1 22understanding.J.S.: Any other sort of specific things that you can pinpoint that are differentthat she’s changed or anything she’s said that really strikes you as somethingthat would represent change?Linda: Just the way she’s so, she’s quieter too. I’ve noticed she was quiet.She’s like more at peace it seems. I don’t know, it is hard to explain...She isjust more at peace with herself or something.J.S.: Did she ever discuss with you the reason for those changes?Linda: She said it really hits home what you see in Guatemala, the kids and theway they have to live compared to the way we live and what we see is so hugeand, you know, disasters in our lives are just trivial to what they have to livethrough every day. (Shaw, lnt#1)If Linda had preconceived notions of the impact of the trip she was engaging in, thiswas not matched by growth in her knowledge of the country she was going to. She classifiedit as a “Third World” country, believed it was in South America, felt that it had a verycorrupt government, poor educational standards and that the culture was extraordinary, butcould not elaborate on any specifics regarding the above. Linda admitted that her perceptionsof Guatemala were fed mostly by media images and broadly applied knowledge which she hadgained in school that was not very accurate or inclusive. The strength in Linda’s perceptionsof Guatemala were found in her ability to identify with the people’s living conditions andstruggle which was based on these generalized notions of life in “underdeveloped” countries.Her perceptions were also tempered by a realistic understanding that their work at theorphanage was not going to result in any drastic improvements in the children’spredicament. On the contrary, she was cognizant that the value of the experience was inmore personal terms. Many of these perceptions are present in a quote from Linda’soriginal application to the Casa Guatemala program:I want to feel these children’s sufferings and share in their happy moments.I want to realize how lucky we all are and how selfish we must be. I want tohelp the children, be there for them. I want to experience the act of giving,123wanting and expecting nothing in return. A smile from an orphan wouldbrighten my day... I’d love to hold a little baby and feel we’re helping just alittle. I want to live in an un-selfish world, a life where materials are onlythere to enjoy and share. (Shaw, Project Application Form)Before leaving for Guatemala, Linda consistently reiterated her dilemma with the desire toestablish a secure standard of living and the pursuit of social justice issues. The experiencewith the Casa Guatemala Project would hopefully clarify these conflicting images of hergoals in life.4.22 Holly Range: Feminism and The TrumpetHolly is fifteen years of age and in grade eleven at Richmond Senior High. Last year, she wason the honour roll in junior high school but her average this year was a high “B”. Herpassion in life is playing the trumpet, at which she excels. She plays in at least sixdifferent ensembles, orchestras and jazz groups throughout the region and has played for theBritish Columbia Honour Band on several occasions. Her talents have earned her severalmusical scholarships. Although she plays with the school band at Richmond High, she iscritical of the quality of instruction and would rather go to school and live in the heart of abig city with a more vibrant theatre and musical scene. Ultimately she would like to playfor a city orchestra in the United States or Europe because she believes the performancelevel of these bands is much higher than contemporary organizations in Canada -- firstchair in the London Symphony would be an acceptable occupational fate in Holly’s eyes. Tothat end she would like to attend university, preferably at McGill in Montreal because shebelieves they have one of the best music programs in the country. McGill, in itself, is onlytolerable because it is relatively affordable.Holly comes from a solid middle-class family. Her mother is an educator and herfather is a supervisor for a large company. She is a relatively quiet person and very1 24observant. While she is not likely to reply with extensive answers when questioned, shespeaks her mind clearly and directly. It was quite apparent that she possessed a wellrounded knowledge of contemporary problems. Her critique of the Richmond community wasonly slightly less harsh than was her comment on the rest of Canada. She listed severalpertinent issues to demonstrate this perspective. Feminist issues were often subtly raisedduring the interview sessions and informal discussions with the researcher. If there wasany place in the world she did not want to travel to, it was the region around Iran and Iraqbecause their views on women were repugnant.Of all the students interviewed, Holly had the most radical critique of the politicalstatus-quo. Social change, in her perception, would only occur if people took overt actionsand confronted power structures directly. In our first interview she exalted Greenpeace as agroup that represented the kinds of things that needed to be done to confront majorcontemporary issues. When asked to clarify why she felt this way in the second interview,she responded with some very revealing comments:Holly: Well, the only way that they get through to people is by doing suchdrastic things, like the way that the ships that either they transport oil orthey’re hunting whales or whatever they do. But, they [Greenpeace] go outand they do such extreme measures, like trying to block the ships.. .then theyget the coverage. People start to be aware of what they are doing and that’s theonly real thing I’ve ever seen get through to the people and get to the government, that hey, there’s something happening that people don’t agree with.J.S.: Why do you think that’s the case?Holly: Because people just don’t want to hear it sometimes, I don’t think. Theyjust want to live in their own little world and think that everything’s going allright. They don’t want to face the facts.J.S.: Okay, and the facts are what?Holly: The world’s going down the tubes. Like there’s so many problems thatit’s almost impossible to deal with, for a few people to deal with. It has to beeveryone that’lI come together, which will never happen. (Range, lnt#2)125Remarks like the above were not uncommon when talking to Holly. Such opinions reflect acritical disposition towards the world around her. However, Holly is not depressed oroverly serious. While somewhat secretive about the details of her life, she is generally opento discussions, friendly and has a sly grin on her face most of the time.Holly sees herself as a giving person who works well with other people in the senseof being a “team player”. When not playing her trumpet, she is involved in the school’sOutdoor Club and is occasionally involved as a volunteer in the community. She first learnedof the Casa Guatemala program while reading her older brother’s yearbook from StevestonSenior High. She was already interested in applying before she heard the publicannouncement at Richmond High in the fall of 1992. Holly’s explanation of her desire tobecome involved in the program was complex. In One sense she felt that it was a chance totest the waters for potential work and career choices in years to come. Like many others,Holly saw her role as “helping” the children at the orphanage and did not hold inflatedexpectations about the groups work in Guatemala. On a more realistic scale, she believed itwas a good opportunity to see what life was really like “down there”. Like Linda, sheanticipated being the central beneficiary of the experience:J.S.: How do you see it helping you?Holly: Well, it will show me how lucky I am to be living here and just cause Ihave heard it will change you a lot when you come back. I think it will changeme.J.S.: How do you think?Holly: That is what I am going to find out.J.S.: Do you have any ideas now of how it might change you?Holly: It is going to put me into a different perspective of what it is like to livein a country that is poor, I guess, in a lot of areas; where kids are shot in theStreet, where things are totally different. Ills just a totally different worldafter that. (Range, Int#1)126Holly also believed that their work with the Casa Guatemala program was symbolic ofsolidarity between the “First World” and the “Third World”. Among other things, Holly sawthe school-based project providing “hope” for the people of Guatemala:J.S.: What does this program do for the people of Guatemala?Holly: It brings them the money or the gifts or the clothes they need bad andit shows that there are people out in the world that will come and help them;who are willing to forget everything they left behind and come to work forthem. And that there is hope for their society to get better if they feel that’swhat they need. Something like that.J.S.: What do you mean by “hope”?Holly: Hope, well it gives them something to look forward to. Like we’re froma country where...they consider this extreme wealth, I think, and it gives themhope that maybe someday they’ll be able to have the same sort of luxuries wehave.J.S.: How does it do that?Holly Well, we bring them materials like the books and things like that, wherethey can get educated themselves and start to get some education down there sothe youth can slowly build up their society to one where they have the sameeducational foundations we have and people are lawyers, doctors, all those peoplethat could really make the society into a better place. (Range, lnt#2)Embedded in this perception of “hope” is the notion that pursuing the material wealth of the“First World” was the ultimate goal of development in “Third World” societies, that theproliferation of better educational standards was an integral component in its realization.She also understood that “development” was a long term process. An intensive understandingof power relationships and historical knowledge did not inform her perspectives. She,nonetheless, attached a clear sense of political efficacy to her efforts with the schoolproject, believing it contributed to the process of change, if only in a symbolic and limitedmanner. As an extension of this sense of efficacy, Holly also attached significance to theproject in terms of how it might possibly have implications on the future well-being of herown community:127It’s the type of project where it’s dealing with people of our own age, it’sdealing with problems that could eventually come and affect us, and at somepoint in our lives we should try and do something to help. (Range, lnt#2)Within this statement is a clear perception that there are potential ramifications forinaction in the “First World” in regards to the problems of underdevelopment in “ThirdWorld”.Another revealing aspect of Holly’s feelings about the upcoming tour was a concernabout her own ignorance of the appropriate modes of cultural behaviour and socialinteraction in Guatemala. Beyond wishing that she had better knowledge of Spanish and thehistory of the country, she worried that her lack of understanding of their culture mightcause her to offend Guatemalans; a situation which she wanted to avoid. In this sense she wasvery conscious of the need to demonstrate respect for the host culture. This sensitivity wasprompted partly by an understandable fear of the country to which she was going, given itsrecent political history. One of the few bits of knowledge she felt she possessed aboutGuatemala was that soldiers shot homeless children in the streets of the capital city. Sheadmitted learning this from some of her teachers. This particular piece of information wasbased on an article which outlined the background to these allegations and was beingcirculated in interested circles around the school.4 Holly was the only individual to expressconcerns about cross-cultural sensitivity prior to the journey.4.23 Kaily Solla: On the Fast Track of Perceptual ChangeKaily Soila typifies the kind of student who is actively involved in the life of her school andcommunity. She has been an honour roll student since grade eight. Kaily was verydisappointed about the fact that she once received a “B”. In 1992 she was working as the4 See “Police are suspect in cases of violent deaths - Guatemala: Children are the victims”Latinamerican Press, 13 September, 1990.128president of the International Issues Club, managed the senior boys basketball team, and saton the yearbook committee, the “grad” committee and was active as a member in the CounterAttack Club which aims to eliminate teenage drinking and driving. She had a meeting toattend every day outside of class time. Somehow she managed to work part-time as an officeassistant at a local medical clinic in order to pay for the trip to Guatemala. In past summersshe thoroughly enjoyed her volunteer work at a municipal daycare centre where she ranprograms for the children. Kaily is a “bubbly”, highly energetic and very busy person.This energy and involvement sometimes hides the fact that at the time of her involvement inthe Casa Guatemala Project, her mother was very ill. In fact she had applied and beenaccepted for the project during the previous year, but was forced to cancel because possibleexposure to tropical diseases in Guatemala might have put her mother at great risk when shereturned home.Geography and history are Kaily’s favourite subjects. She was very interested inlast year’s social studies class because it focused, in part, on “Third World” countries andother cultures around the world. She attended Japanese classes throughout the firstsemester of the 1992-93 school year. Her interest in learning about other societies wasstimulated, in part, by extensive travel experience. Of these journeys, the grade eight trip[1988] to the Soviet Union stands out in her memory. She describes this visit analytically:That was fun. We just basically toured around and went to museums and talkedto other students. It was really neat because we saw it before the “Wall” camedown.. ..They seemed like there was a difference between the younger kids and theolder kids in the USSR. The younger kids were just so eager to meet us and talkto us and give us things and us give them things, but the older people were morecautious or.. .you know they didn’t want us to talk with them or anything like that.Like one group gave us, it was like a brownie type group that we have, and theygave us all their scarves and the teachers made them come back and take themaway from us. They didn’t want them to give them to us. You know, we would bewearing shorts and they would kind of scald on us. They were so used to thecommunist part of their country. They didn’t like the openness of the othercountries coming in. (Soila, lnt#1)129With this considerable interest in travel and working with children, Kaily would likeeventually like to be an elementary teacher and, in the future, a mission teacher in a“developing” country. Her religious convictions are implicitly concealed in these careerobjectives.Kaily’s first interview began with very positive overtones in her feelings towardsthe Richmond community. In her mind, Richmond and Canada were ideal places to live in.There was a perception that most people in Richmond were caring and supportive. Thesecharacteristics distinguished her home from larger cities that typically suffer from highrates of crime and violence:I think the community is very strong. I mean except for a little gangs and alittle school fight or something like that we don’t have a high murder rate oranything like that. It seems that families are really strong and everything likethat. The schools have a lot of incentive to them; they have great groups youknow. There is lots of groups outside school for kids and things like that. Ireally think that it is a great area. It seems like there is a really strongcommunity here. People actually want to get together and help. I think thehigh schools are really great. I mean from Vancouver to Richmond, I likeRichmond so much better. It seems that people are just so close communitywise. (Soila, lnt#1)This positive expression reflects her view that the world is in fairly decent shape except forselected aspects like the environment. She believes that people are fundamentally peaceloving and generous -- a faith which may have come from her experiences working as avolunteer in the community and in response to her observations of the Casa Guatemalaprogram:I think on the rate of giving the world is really great, you know. It seemsthat, except for the fighting and everything like that, but for the basic aim ofthe people, they want peace in the world and they are willing to help othercountries and everything like that. We are going more and more towards ademocratic state, you know. Everyone has freedom to speak and everything likethat. So on the human side I think it is better, but on the environmental side andstill on the fighting side, you know there are still a few people who are stillfighting in the world and things like that. Like the political wise and then theenvironment wise the environment is not very great right now. The world is not130very great on that side. So on half side of the humans wanting to try and give andhelp other countries it is really good. (Soila, lnt#1)To Kaily, these problems were seen as a series of fronts that can be challengedindependently. There was great faith in the civic-mindedness of the community which, fromher perspective, will in the end overcome problems. She envisages a steady march towardsgreater democracy and freedom in the world. There was no sense of interconnection oroverarching power relations that actively structure and give rise to problems such as“fighting” and the “environment”. These were all problems that could be tackled in isolationfrom one another with the right amount of caring, volunteerism and diligence.Kaily, if any of the students, demonstrated a substantial shift in the nature of heranalysis and perceptions of the program in the months prior to going to Guatemala. Shebegan explaining her desire to travel to Guatemala in much the same manner as her peers:the experience would change her perspectives, enrich her understanding of the “ThirdWorld” and, in the mean time, she would be able to “help out” with their problems:One thing that baited me was listening to other people talk about it. Like itjust makes me so excited and I really want to go down there and help otherpeople like what she said and I think, also, how she said it changes our livesand everything like that. This is what I also want to do when I am older. Iwant to help out like this and it has motivated me to go down there. (Soila,lnt#2)Even more revealing of the group’s perceived role in Guatemala, were the aspirationsunderlying her desire to offer humanitarian assistance. In the early months of involvementwith Casa Guatemala, Kaily believed that the group’s role was merely an extension of abroader community response to the needs of the “Third World”. She viewed social andeconomic development as primarily a matter of transferring the superior “know-how” ofthe prosperous and capable “North” to the impoverished masses of the “South”.Furthermore, she thought that the most important and, as yet, untapped resource forstimulating “development” lay in the mobilization of collective awareness and resources in131the community:I think as a community we can help Third World countries, or maybe we canhave a drop off shoe thing or a drop off medical supplies thing. You know,maybe there will be certain people go over who are qualified and give thesupplies to people and teach them how to use those supplies so we don’t alwayshave to keep going over there and help them. They will actually learn how todo it themselves instead of just saying, well here is some money and here issome food, but we are not going to teach you how to do it. I think that they needto learn, you know, how we have schools where we learn how to do things. Sofrom generation to generation people always know how to do things, but, whereas, not many people are qualified to do certain jobs. I think they need moreeducation over there. (Soila, lnt#1)By the time of the second interview, four weeks later, Kaily’s view of the group’s influenceon the people of Guatemala had a more specific political flavour. In discussions with MaryCoIl, the student teacher at her school who had recently lived and worked in the CasaGuatemala orphanage, Kaily was developing a more critical and informed perspective on thepossible ramifications of their presence in the country:J.S.: What does this program do for people in Guatemala?Kaily: I think that they see a more international awareness and they see theWestern countries actually wanting to help. I think that they may also see anintrusion on their culture also, but I think from what I have heard, people arenice down there. Like, they are glad that we are down there because supposedlythe government won’t harm us down there and they will back off more if thereis more international support down there. So I think that the people down thereare actually glad that there is international support. (Soila, lnt#2)Through these comments it was evident that Kaily was, for the first time, beginning toconsider possible negative ramifications from the presence of international volunteers andtourists in Guatemala. The belief that the presence of foreigners provided a kind of unspokensafety zone for Guatemalan peasants was a substantial change in the level of sophistication inKaily’s intellectual understanding. In addition, concepts like cultural erosion andmodification were now squarely within her grasp.In the weeks immediately prior to departure for Guatemala there was a marked132change in her perceptions of the nature of their school-based program. Kaily was becomingskeptical regarding the extent of help the group would really provide to the orphanage giventhe proposed agenda of the tour. She gradually began to critique the manner in which thegroup would be travelling which she believed contradicted the purpose and intent of theschool program. All of this made her feel uneasy about the assumptions underlying theproposed itinerary:When you think that we are staying in top quality hotels and like half our tripwe are taking Spanish lessons and then we are going shopping and things likethat, only six days of our trip is up at the orphanage. When you think aboutwhat we have been saying at our school; that has been our whole focus is CasaGuatemala, the orphanage...We are going down there and we are not actuallyjust helping the orphanage. We are actually doing the ‘touristy’ things too.I think it is neat for the first time to go down there to do some interestingthings to get the feel of it, but if I go down there a second time I am just goingto spend it at the orphanage. (Soila, lnt#2)Kaily’s expressed knowledge of the culture and issues surrounding Guatemalansociety was typical of the Steveston group who had been involved with the InternationalIssues Club and had several weeks to discuss the trip with the student teacher. From herown research and discussions with Mary Coil, she had gained an awareness of problems suchas glue sniffing and Street children, government corruption and repression, absoluteextremes of wealth and poverty, the historical context of Latino domination of the Mayacivilization and the burning of the codexes, and the continuing problem of refugees from thecivil war. With this growing awareness Kaily was more convinced than ever of the need forthe program. At the same time she was also expressing a growing sense of frustration andintolerance of people who did not understand the value of their work:Like even some adults when they talk to me they are like, “Oh wouldn’t youwant to put that towards your university education or something like that?” Ithink it is worth it. Like, this is what I want to do. I have put a lot of workinto this project and I want to see what we are actually doing when we are downthere. Some people just don’t understand it. Like, I think you have to have thatin your head that you actually want to do this. Some people just can’t understand133why you would want to put you money to that, you know, when you could go toAustralia or something like that, but that is what we want to do. (Soila, lnt#2)For Kaily, at least, this kind of verbal resistance began to symbolize the disjuncture she feltbetween her values and the more traditional ones that surrounded her in the community. Asshe had grown to identify with the program she was also learning, as others surely were,how Casa Guatemala challenged more popular ways of understanding and interacting with“developing” nations. Her growing attachment to the cause of supporting the children at theorphanage was possible because of an open-mindedness that she perceived others did notshare.4.24 Alice Gibson: An Adventure in Cross-Cultural LearningAlice Gibson is a grade eleven student who intentionally performs just slightly better thanthe norm. This is not because she has average abilities, rather she limits the amount ofeffort she pours into academic pursuits. In some regards Alice has the observational andanalytical abilities of a trained anthropologist. She is a very sensitive and modest individualgiven her considerable abilities. She demonstrates a willingness to comprehend other pointsof view. Likewise, empathy and an external frame of reference are cornerstones of herpersonality.Beyond the desire to attend university when she graduates from high school, Alice didnot state entrenched or highly specific career goals. She expressed interest in tourismbecause of her love of languages. Alice declared that she will be taking Japanese and wasalready fluent in Spanish as she has spent every summer in memory with her mother’srelatives in Mexico. She has a wealth of experiences to share regarding her visits toCuernavaca, including her recollection of the 1985 earthquake that devastated the capitalcity. Alice is perceptive about the kinds of changes taking place in this country. She134describes it this way:Mexico is starting to grow a lot more. Like, just the place where I went...it’sbecoming more American kind of in a way that you go to the store and you canbuy your Levi’s instead of your Mexican jeans or whatever. But a lot more hasbeen imported. Like you can go down there and buy a T.V. dinner at the storewhereas, normally you’d go to the market and buy your fresh vegetables andyour meat from the butcher and it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just growing moreinto a city because before it was more like a little town. (Gibson, lnt#1)Alice has developed critical comparisons between the social norms of her peers at StevestonSenior High and those in Mexico:I think people in Mexico aren’t as judgmental in a way. Because when youcome here, if you’re wearing like a really outrageous outfit to school, peoplewill look at you like, oh, my God; in Mexico, they’ll probably just feel like oh,well, like it’s not so much a competition to be the same. It’s more like everyone is who you are kind of thing, or you are who you are. (Gibson, lnt#1)Alice’s background has had an obvious impact on her rationale for involvement in theCasa Guatemala program. Like her peers she explained this in reference to the desire to“help”, but the difference in her elaboration of this theme came in the context of her lifeexperiences. This distinction was obvious from the moment she applied to the program. Asindicated in the following passage from her application form:Last summer I spent two months in Mexico with some of my relatives. Thecity I stayed in is named Cuernavaca. It is a fairly well developed city butthere is still a bit of poverty. When I walked down the streets I saw ladieswith their young babies selling baskets or candies to make money to buy somedinner. Whenever I saw this I felt very sad. I also felt very selfish and veryguilty because I’ve never been able to do anything about it, but now we can dosomething about it. It might not solve all the world problems but it willcertainly help the orphans of Casa Guatemala. (Gibson, Project ApplicationForm)Unlike her peers in the program, this written rationale was not a response to extensiveconversations with previous participants or from viewing the Casa Guatemala video, butfrom lived experience and direct observations of poverty in Mexico.From the onset of her involvement, Alice was able to place very limited and more135realistic expectations on the potential impact of the Casa Guatemala program and theirupcoming visit. When asked how she felt their work was helping the children at theorphanage, she responded:I don’t really know if we are. Like we are going to help them but probably inthe way that’s something new for them. It will be a whole new experience andwe’re building the two new rooms and the library. That will probably helpand I think just the experience for them. (Gibson, lnt#1)She elaborated on this perception in more detail when later asked to explain the reasons whyshe thought the program had been created:Alice: I think it’s probably so that we can learn something and so that the peopleat the orphanage can learn something, like it goes both ways. But I think we’lllearn a lot more about how fortunate we are to have things and they’ll learn alot more about what, like how our culture is different and things. So I thinkprobably so that we can all learn something out of it.J.S.: Are there other things you might learn out of this?Alice: Probably, yeah, I’ll probably, I’ll learn more about the country itselfand about, like how it is because sometimes it’s the way it’s in the papers andall that. It’s different from when you’re really there. (Gibson, lnt#1)Even though Alice shared the belief that their participation in the program was based on thedesire to “help”, she couched this in a markedly different language. The experience, in hermind, was more of a cross-cultural exchange than an extension of material aid or activismfor “Third World” development. In this sense the journey was more beneficial to the groupas learning experience for all parties involved. Secondly, she understood the value of thisjourney as a means to overcome the inadequacies of the media’s portrayal of Guatemala, sothat in response to her observations she could develop her own independent perspective onthe culture and politics of this nation.Like Kaily, Alice shared in the growth of her understanding about Guatemala fromdiscussions with Mary Coil and through her involvement in “Guatemala Week” which shehelped to organize at the school. Even though she had not set foot in Guatemala, Alice136provided very rich descriptions of many aspects of this society. Her description of theabduction and training of Maya boys into military service is representative of her changingknowledge and preconceptions of the country:A lot of people are just being neglected because they don’t have a lot of moneyso they can’t really...they can’t buy land and they can’t do a lot about it, justbecause the army has so much control and they’ve brain-washed so manyyoung boys into being part of the army that they’ll never really have to worryabout the army running out of people, just because...Miss Call said that whenshe was in Guatemala they’d...when she was taking buses , she said that thearmy would just get on the buses and take 13-year-old boys and take them offto boot-camp and just brainwash them for six months and a lot of themwouldn’t come out alive. A lot of them would just commit suicide because theycouldn’t handle it, and she said they’d come out killing machines, like they’djust come out and kill people because they’re street kids or just because theywere...they had land and the government wanted it or the military wanted it orjust things like that. (Gibson, lnt#2)Alice also participated in an international development conference for high school students atthe University of British Columbia where she attended a seminar put on by Ray Sawatskyand Tony Eng, two of the programs past participants. On this occasion she viewed the videoGuatemala Journey for the first time. The presentation had an immediate impact on hercommitment to the project as she witnessed, for the first time, the children and the settingof the orphanage. When asked to explain how this further affected her she began to cry. Herexplanation of this growth in attachment to the program was taking on more personalstrands of reasoning as her knowledge of the social and political context of the orphanagegrew:I think I’m more aware now about what’s going on in Guatemala, so I want tohelp. Like, especially the kids, because they’re just.. .1 think they’re justvictims of a lot of...like almost everything that happens, like the governmentand things; they can’t really help it. So I think just going helps the kids.(Gibson, lnt#2)Alice also talked with several of last years participants on the Casa Guatemala tripand reported similar themes in regards to their explanations of the impact of the journey.137There was an expectation that the experience would change her perspective on life, create adifferent set of priorities, provide her with a greater appreciation for the benefits of livingin this society, as well as gaining a much more extensive knowledge of the different peopleand culture in Guatemala (Gibson, lnt#2). Another interesting perception was the feelingthat she was working with a group of like-minded individuals who had now become her closefriends. This was even more important to her because it mutually reinforced theirindividual reasons for involvement or, as she expressed it, “because it feels like we all havea lot of support, like we all, we’re all doing this pretty much for the same reasons, we allhave a lot in common,” (Gibson, lnt#2). Finally, the simple fact that the program createdits own unique culture and structure for the expression of these values amongst her peerswas important to Alice:Alice: I think it’s given me a lot of responsibility, because I like to be involvedwith the schools and things, but I’ve never really been involved in a projectlike this where we actually plan things out and do things and go out and talk topeople and things like that. But I think that it’s probably made me, I don’t knowif it’s stronger, but I feel I’m, I’ve matured a bit, like I look a things differentlynow sometimes.J.S.: How do you look at things differently, do you think?Alice: Well, I try not to criticize so many people any more. Like when I seesomething, I don’t think, ‘Oh, that should be that way,’ or, ‘Oh , I don’t like that.’I kind of think, ‘ Oh that’s how it is. I guess I should deal with it,’ kind of; like,make it better, don’t make it worse, kind of. (Gibson, lnt#2)Not only was Casa Guatemala providing Alice with friendships that reinforced thecommonality of her values with her peers, but it also gave her a constructive way of actingon these beliefs in an institutional setting while developing organizational skills whichbetter enabled her to carry out such actions.1384.25 Jane Lamb: Alienation and Social ActionJane Lamb is a grade eleven student who achieves grades in the “B” range. She openly admitsthat she could get straight “A’s” if she applied herself, but feels she has other priorities.What became most apparent throughout the interviews was that Jane feels totally at oddswith main-stream society. She demonstrates her alienation, both mentally and physically,as a challenge to others’ perceptions of “normal”. When you first meet her you are taken bythe silver ring she wears through her nose, a symbol of her desire to express herindividuality in an unconventional manner.Jane comes from a deeply religious household. Her parents are very involved withthe Anglican Church, and this institution has been an integral part of Jane’s life to date.Over the past few summers Jane has been on staff at a Bible camp where she led children’sprograms, cooked and performed maintenance tasks. Jane recalls these experiences withgreat enthusiasm because of the sense of community and accomplishment that she developed.However, these memories also serve as a critical yardstick with which she measures herlife back in the city:Jane: ... when you get home it’s just like holy, like you feel so much moremature and so much more responsible. I remember when I got off the busfrom coming home I stepped aside in the Greyhound Bus station and it wasjust like, ‘Oh my God!”, I felt like an alien, I just felt like you just changedso much it’s so incredible.J.S.: You felt like an alien?Jane: Yeah, because like you’re in a city and you felt like, I don’t belong here.I don’t want to be here. Like everyone who gets back from the camp they kindof withdraw a bit because, it’s just so true because you just don’t want to behere...like, you can have a negative attitude towards here and this kind ofsociety because you’ve experienced so much good in the summer.J.S.: How do you explain the differences?Jane: The differences? Everyone here is a lot more, it’s just everyone hereis just so caught up in themselves and what’s going on.. .it’s just so much139more impersonal here, so impersonal compared to a community, it’s justso impersonal like incredible. (Lamb, lnt#1)In recent years she has grown to challenge the doctrines of Christianity because theyare at odds with many aspects of her personal beliefs. A year after assisting in theorganization of an interfaith conference with the youth wing of the Anglican Diocese, Janedeclared that she had become a member of the Ba’hai community. In her eyes this faith wasmore in tune with the necessities and realities of the contemporary world, particularly inlight of Ba’hai views on the equality of women and the acceptability of other forms of faith.Jane describes the Ba’hai Faith as the “religion for today” (Lamb, lnt#1).More convincingly than any of the other students, Jane sees herself working as acommunity social worker or organizer in the future and this includes the desire to work injust such a capacity in the “Third World”. In her own community she envisages a vocation asan activist teacher or peer counsellor, particularly for teenage women:You know how people come to high schools and they’re, like not lecturers, butthey give talks on certain things, people who would do that.. .And I see doingsomething like that on self-esteem because people nowadays, especially likegirls, girl’s self-esteem are so low. Like even me for weight and stuff...And Iwas thinking that if I could just go from school to school and like just teachkind of self-esteem courses, just say you are okay, you know, you are good,you’re worth it and you’re a good person and you are beautiful. You know, justthat kind of thing because everyone needs so much. (Lamb, lnt#1)Jane is acutely aware of the larger commercial and political forces which shape the cultureand values of her society. Not willing to succumb to these forces, she is adamant aboutavoiding a middle-class lifestyle. She would rather travel and hold a diversity of jobs thanhave a family and live all her life in the same community (Lamb, lnt#1).Beneath a happy, yet sarcastic demeanor is an individual who expresses criticalconcern about society and a deep commitment to working for social change. Looking beyondthe immediate pleasures and perceived accomplishments of her own culture, she feels agreat potential to improve the quality of life for people:140Well, considering Canada is supposed to be.. .according to United Nations, Canadais the best country to live in, but people in Canada are still, like Canada sucks.Like Canada still has its problems, you know. So considering that, Canada issupposed to be the best place, but then considering the Quebec issue and likeNative people and just everything and our political leaders like Vander ZaImand stuff, you still aren’t near perfect, you know. Even the best isn’t reallythat great. (Lamb, lnt#1)Indeed, Jane is impatient and frustrated with what she perceives as the lack of understandingand commitment to change in official institutional circles. Politicians and the “rich”, in herview, are almost beyond hope in this regard. Jane places greater faith and emphasis onsmaller scale, “grassroots” initiatives that realize substantial achievements for individualgroups of people. In her view the proliferation of projects similar to Casa Guatemalarepresents an appropriate extension of this train of thought (Lamb, lnt#1).Jane, like others, did not inflate the significance of their journey for the children ofthe orphanage or the people of Guatemala. The brunt of the benefit was going to the teachersand students on the trip who gained new insights into the culture and lifestyle of Guatemalanpeople:I think it benefits us more than it does them, though. Because, I mean, usgoing there for two weeks doesn’t really do much for them except for givingthem a bit of fun for two weeks I guess. But for us, it gives us like all theculture and stuff and we open our eyes so much more, I guess, when we’rethere. So it’s good for the students who go and the teachers who go and stuff.(Lamb, lnt#2)In this sense the trip was most important as a tool for gaining a new perspective on life inher own society:J.S.: You say ‘open your eyes’. Can you explain that?Jane: Like realize that it’s not just Canada...not everywhere is just likeRichmond. You know, it’s just. ..everyone. . .there’s different cultures andthere’s different levels of wealth and stuff and I’m totally wealthy, youknow. (Lamb, Int#2)For Jane, the real gains of this program would come in the reinforcement of values she141already possessed, as well the manner in which the experience would lend support to hersense of advocacy on world issues (Lamb, Int#2). She even expressed disappointment thatmore of her peers could not participate in the program because of the impact it might haveon their values and in turn, the ramifications this might have on the momentum for change:Like right now if I came up from Guatemala and said to people, ‘Hey, let’sraise some more money for Casa Guatemala,’most people would say, ‘Oh, wellno. Like, I already did before you went,’ you know. But if everyone wentback, everyone would want to give more money, you know. Uke there wouldbe so much more done, if everyone was involved, so much more could be done.(Lamb, lnt#2)In quite a different light, Jane was able to project herself into the perspective of aGuatemalan who might witness these travellers from the North. Far from their presencebeing beneficial to these people in the manner in which they generated valuable touristdollars for the local economy, she perceived a far more negative implication:Like, compared to us they have nothing; they don’t. So when we go there andthey look at us and we have all our clothes...which is so much to them...andwhen they see us they probably feel like, ‘God, like I have no hope. Like lookat them, like they come here for two weeks and they leave.’...Like, if I wasthem, I’d be thinking, ‘God, like what’s the point of my life, because...Iook atthem, they’re so rich but they’re so far away.’ (Lamb, Int#2)She is conscious of her own relative standard of living and a strong current of empathy forthose she is about to impose upon as a tourist. One even senses subtle shades of guilt fromher portrayal of the interaction between the two groups of people.The lead-up to departure was even more unsettling to Jane: she reported developing agreat deal of frustration with her classmates who failed to comprehend and appreciate thenature of the group’s visit to Guatemala. In both her journal and second interview shediscussed the issue in depth:Jane:...So many people I know, like just people I’m not even close with,they’re always... ,‘Oh can you bring me this back?...And that’s all I seem to herreally, is, ‘You’re going down to Guatemala? Cool. Can you bring me this’?And I just...it totally pisses me off...142J.S.: What kind of things are they asking for?Jane: Like clothes...because you can buy cheap things there in Chichicastenango...I’m not going to buy you gifts.. .it just seems that people just think of, ‘Cool, canyou get us something?’...they don’t think, ‘Oh wow, you’re going to see a totallydifferent culture and wow, that’s something amazing’...it just seems so much forthem, like some big fun trip...lt just annoys me so much. (Lamb, Int#2)This indictment of her peers further indicated the strong degree of alienation she alreadyfelt towards mainstream society, particularly the emphasis on materialism andindividualism.Jane admitted to knowing very little about Guatemala prior to the trip. Like others,she discussed gaining an appreciation for the work of the Casa Guatemala orphanage and somedegree of insight into the social and political situation in Guatemala from the student teacherat Steveston. At one point she elaborated at some length on the plight of street kids inGuatemala, but did not venture into other aspects of her understanding or perceptions of thiscountry (Lamb, lnt#2). Jane made continual reference to the idea of returning to dovolunteer work, before she had even experienced the journey. She admitted being heavilyinfluenced by her aunt and uncle whom she regarded as role models:I’ve just always wanted, all my life just wanted to get out of Canada... I’ve justwanted to go to a third world country and...just not for two weeks, not just fora holiday. Just I wanted to go there and be there for a year. Like my aunt anduncle lived in Guyana for three years.. .they’ve like totally made things progressthere. (Lamb, lnt#2)For Jane this trip represented a “turning point” in her life, something that would allow herto make informed decisions about her career choices and possible options in the future(Lamb, lnt#2). The trip was a natural extension of her desire for a career that reflectedher political efficacy.1434.26 Tim Long: In forming A Legal CareerTim is an academically gifted individual in his senior year at McNair Secondary School.During his junior high school years he attended the Incentive School in Richmond, whichoffered a program of enriched curriculum and studies. While he enjoyed the learningatmosphere at this school, he switched to a mainstream high school because of the lack ofextracurricular activities offered at Incentive. Consequently, in grade eleven, he enrolled atMcNair. History and politics are his favourite subjects, although he feels very competent inall areas of study. However, he refuses to take biology because he conscientiously objects tothe prospect of dissecting animals of any sort. Tim openly admits that he holds to a veryrigid set of personal principles. Last year he was recognized the top scholar at McNair andhopes to repeat this performance. Involvement in intercollegiate athletics programs is not agoal to which Tim readily aspires. As he states, “I’m not a big fan of competition.” Instead,Tim prefers to participate in recreational level sports and activities. This last year hemanaged the junior girls volleyball team. Beyond this, he is very involved in the school,sitting as a member of the environment, newspaper and yearbook clubs, as well as studentcouncil where he acts as treasurer (Long, lnt#1).As an extension of his penchant for politics, Tim sees himself as a successfulcommunity activist. He sits on a number of municipal boards and committees as a youthconsultant and organizer. Recently he was appointed to the Richmond Youth CommunityAdvisory Council. He is also dedicated to working with his lsmaili community’s educationboard. Although Tim explains this desire for intensive political activity in several ways,the core of this motivation appears to come from a strong personal sense of efficacy whichhas only been realized in recent years:I worked hard in school. That was it and then I joined one group one year...Itexpanded my horizons. First of all, I realized I liked being busy, like I justcannot sit idle. It’s something I’ve always been like that and I feel that you144know, so many youths say, ‘Oh well, you can’t make a difference,’ but here Iam and I know I’m going through programs and I know that I am making adifference and I have the opportunity to do so. And somebody just has to takethe initiative to go into it and I think realize that, you know, you can dosomething about it. You can make a difference about it and you just have totake that initiative to do it. So I don’t think it is just a matter of involvement.I guess it made me more mature in the process. (Long, lnt#1)Tim describes the roots of this disposition in reference to his stable family upbringing, thevalues instilled by his religious community and wealthy socio-economic standing. Hisparents run a successful wholesale business (Long, Int#2). Yet financial success is not theyardstick by which TIm wishes to measure his own achievements. Rather, he pictureshimself working as an advocate of “civil liberties”. He feels he can realize more tangible andpersonally rewarding results from involvement in community and internationaldevelopment issues (Long, lnt#1; lnt#2).Self-actualization and self-confidence are Tim’s strongest personalitycharacteristics. He has an impressive degree of political and historical knowledge forsomeone his age, and has a striking ability to articulate his own status and relationship withsociety. Tim wants to attend an elite university, preferably Berkeley or Stanford in theUnited States, or McGill in Canada. Eventually he would like to graduate with a law degreeand work as a diplomat for the United Nations (Long, Int#1). Through all of theseaspirations, Tim holds to conservative notions of social change and his place within it:Society as a whole has been good to me, I think, in the sense that I don’t comeacross many roadblocks. I feel society has its own rules, and sometimes ifyou don’t go against those rules. ..if you go against those rule you arecondemned and I’ve been very lucky, because I don’t think I’ve gone againstthose rules yet...So I think in that sense, society’s been good to me, becauseI’ve sort of been in that, you know, I have good grades...and I don’t get into theviolence and I am articulate and... I’ve followed the rules. But, society isalso a collective of values and I’m just fortunate that my values fit into thatspectrum. (Long, Int#2)As a result of attendance at conferences and forums, Tim has met numerous politicians and145bureaucrats who have served as role models for him. He feels comfortable with this circleof people and they have influenced his perception of a possible vocation:I know one man who is in Stanford and he just got his Rhodes scholarship.He’s going to Oxford and he’s done some programs for the United Nations. So Iguess if you see other people doing it you feel like hey, there’s something therefor you. I know a woman who is the chairman for the Refugee Board of Canada.Here she is making a huge difference and she’s just like everyone else..Youthink there’s a chance that I could make a difference too. (Long, lnt#1)While these role models have, no doubt, informed his career goals, several other stronginfluences shaped the nature of his life aspirations and his reasons for pursuinginvolvement in the Casa Guatemala program.Tim recalls travelling to Tanzania and Kenya as a younger boy, to visit his parent’sformer home. Several memories of this experience stand out for him: the degree of policecorruption, the beggars on the streets, problems with currency exchange, the difference inprocedures for travelling on planes, and his parents’ description of the comparative declineof the streets and facilities in the country as a result of the termination of colonial rule(Long, lnt#1). Even with these recollections Tim felt that he had not gained fully from theexperience, because his family was staying at fancy hotels and “decadent” surroundings:I was there twice and I saw first hand the problems that they faced and it’sreally sad and at the same time I had my own family members who are sowealthy and staying at the Hilton in Nairobi which was just ridiculous. Youknow, that disturbed me when I was young. At first, you know, no big deal, Iwas having such a great time, all these servants and everything. But you know,even after I came back I thought more about what happened and what I’d seenand it just disturbed me. I think I was sensitive to that. Maybe because it waspart of my heritage itself. My own community, the Ismaili community, has alot of work in development; we have sponsorships and foundations...So it isjust something in me. (Long, lnt#1)There is an underlying ethic of religious duty and benevolence colouring much of Tim’sphilosophy. His Ismaili community places a strong emphasis on charity and acts ofcompassion. The practical extension of this comes through his experience in conferences146organized by the Aga Khan Foundation which sponsors community development projectsthroughout the world. On an immediate and personal level Tim drew parallels between hissense of spirituality and his efforts with the Casa Guatemala program:I do a lot of reading, like on philosophy and mystical religion and I search forsort of...not purpose, but something beyond physical existence. Like I do thatoften, and my religion does that a lot, and sometimes, like I look at my work inan orphanage or whatever as a form of prayer, because I believe it is. (Long,lnt#2)However noble and lofty this explanation seems, it must be weighed against more selfish andearthly tangents in Tim’s personality. During the second interview he admitted attemptingto impress a young woman while on a date through an intentional and timely reference to hisupcoming work at the orphanage in Guatemala:And she was very impressed that I was willing to go to Guatemala and work inan orphanage and to do some Third World development work and stuff. So I guessit made me seem caring and whatever and stuff. ..l’m not too proud of that, let’sput it that way. Anyway, she wasn’t my type, so I wasn’t interested after a whileso it didn’t matter. (Long, lnt#2)The idea of travelling in Guatemala and working at the orphanage was initiallystimulated by his former principal at the Incentive School who had gone to this country andreportedly changed his career path to medicine as a result. Tim saw the trip as a chance toexperience the same degree of “revelation” and learn about a part of the world that waspoorly understood and largely ignored. In many ways the trip served to reaffirm his valuesbefore he went to university and embarked on a career. More importantly, he perceived thatthe people of Guatemala represented, “an area that also needs my help,” and that the schoolprogram was a vehicle for, “giving back,” to them (Long, lnt#1). Clearly, there was sensethat he had something to give to these people either now or in the future. These perceptionsof the “Third World” were later attributed to his learning in the grade eleven social studiescourse. Here, students were exposed to the terminology and ideology of global educationwhich informed their understanding of the world in terms of concepts like the “global147village”, “interconnection” and “interdependence”. Tim used these terms readily in hisdiscussions. All individuals had a moral responsibility to address issues of social andpolitical injustices throughout the world according to Tim (Long, lnt#1). Referring to this,Tim stated:I just feel that the opportunity to do something outside of Canada, to do somegood outside of Canada instead of within. ..Guatemala is an example where...there’s a lot of injustices, and you hear about them and they frighten me a lot.And I can’t help but think to myself that there is some way you can make adifference, even though chances are you cannot, but I feel that there is somesort of way, and even if it’s just that one individual, you know...l just thinkthat Canada would be better and the world would be better if these countriescould maybe have some sort of sustainable development. (Long, lnt#2)The Casa Guatemala program was an appropriate manifestation of this global vision for Tim.He described the whole experience as a personal process of “giving a face” to internationalproblems through the example of the bond he would establish with the children at theorphanage (Long, lnt#2). The tour would provide him with the opportunity to test whetheror not he was able to “make a difference” in boundaries beyond his own community, andhopefully to discover a deeper sense of personal relevance from the experience to furthershape his beliefs and aspirations (Long, lnt#2).Significantly, Tim’s explanation of the importance of the Casa Guatemala Project andthe group’s visit, did not emphasize deep concern for the people of Guatemala or theorphanage. Seemingly, this experience had greater personal significance for him in termsof assisting his career aspirations (Long, Int#2). He was very aware of the fact that hewould be called upon to give speeches and slide presentations when he returned so that themessage of the Casa Guatemala program could be spread in the community and to his peers(Long, lnt#2). These motives would also be congruent with his perception of social changeas a process of individual leadership that took place within existing institutional boundaries.Tim was very agreeable with the legal and bureaucratic framework in society and felt his148allegiance to it would be rewarded with rank and privilege (Long, lnt#2).Perhaps his inability to express a more detailed vision of the impact of the Guatemalavisit was due to his lack of prior knowledge of the country and orphanage. Unlike thestudents from Steveston he did not have access to organized orientation activities. Outside ofthe two meetings of the entire group, Tim’s only sources of information on Guatemala and theexcursion came from an encyclopedia, articles on Rigoberta Menchu that had been recentlypublished, and the video Guatemala Journey which he viewed at an earlier date. Despite allof this, however, Tim fully appreciated the unique value of this trip as an educationalexperience which underscored the very reason it had been established in the first place:I look at Guatemala as another form of education. ..and some sort of way oflearning about something that you can’t be taught in the textbooks in school orin a book. And I meditate sometimes, so it would be nice to meditate there withwhat I’ve seen and stuff. (Long, lnt#2)4.3 Onward to Guatemala: Common Factors Affecting the Students’PerceptionsThe students who came to the Casa Guatemala program did so with a diversity of backgroundsand interests. Each of them had a distinctive way of explaining their own motivation andpurpose for becoming involved in the project. Their individual rationales for involvementencompassed varying degrees of both internal and external points of reference. All of thestudents emphasized the personal benefits which would accrue as a result of theirexperience, particularly the broadening of their perspectives and vocational decisions laterin life. Four of the students acknowledged a qualified sense of identification with action forsocial change and social justice. While the term “help” was pervasively employed, strongnotions of paternalism or cultural superiority were absent from their dialogue. Thestudents described the reasons for the program in terms of a less tangible sense of solidaritywith the orphanage and a shared cross-cultural learning experience more than anything149else. The students’ most distinct range of perceptions were their attitude towards Canadiansociety. Jane, Holly, and Alice held more intensely critical attitudes towards the norms andvalues present in their community. Canadian society was not perceived to be problematic inany definitive sense in the eyes of Linda, Kaily or Tim. Indeed, it was a place that peoplecame to for solutions for or refuge from turmoil that was largely conceived to be external totheir community and nation.Beyond the unique qualities of their individual explanations are a host of sharedperceptions. Every student in the study sample mentioned at one point or another in thefirst two interview sessions, that they expected their work in Guatemala was going to“change” them in various ways. Their numerous references to a personal transformationincluded such things as their career and vocational goals, future involvement in“development” activities and organizations, personal values and priorities, lifestylepatterns, future travel plans, perspectives of their own society, the nature of theirperceptions (eg., open-mindedness), their level of maturity, the depth of understanding ofGuatemalan society, as well as a more informed sense of media literacy concerning coverageof the lives of people in the “Third World”.The breadth of items contained in these preconceptions of “change” can be explained,in part, by their unanimous exposure to the video Guatemala Journey in the months leadingup to the tour. Many students reported being deeply affected by this documentary of the firsttrip to the orphanage in 1990 because of the style of presentation and the narrative contentwhich centres on a continual series of student and teacher monologues which reflect on thepersonal relevance and impact of the trip on their lives. Alice Gibson was moved to tearswhen discussing the occasion of her first observation of the video and perceived that shewould have a very tough time leaving the children after a week of being with them (Gibson,lnt#2). The strong emotional undercurrent in the video was an intentional feature of its150production. Carkner and his associates, beginning with the planning and conceptual stage ofthe film, fully intended it to serve as a powerful promotional and recruitment medium forthe project (Carkner, lnt). However, in delivering this message, the video also suggeststhat participation in the trip carries with it both the expectation and anticipation thatchanges will occur in the students’ perceptions, knowledge and values.The students’ contemplation of these various modes of Hchangew was also fostered bydiscussions with previous participants in the program. Some individuals reported listeningto the testimonies of past participants at slide presentations in previous years, at initialinformation meetings and more often than not through direct conversations. Many of thestudents had older brothers or sisters in the three schools who were friends with theproject’s alumni and, as a result, had discussed their experiences at length in a variety ofsocial circumstances. Once again, the example of Linda Shaw’s dialogue concerning herdiscussions with “Jodi” is an explicit demonstration of how such interaction with formerparticipants has shaped their preconceptions of the personal impact of the trip:J.S.: What did Jodi have to say about it?Linda: She loved it and she is going back again after she graduates by herselfto volunteer. She loved it so much. She said it would change you. She said itchanged her, the way she looks at things. She just came back totally different,which is true because I remember her from before and she is just so muchdifferent from what she was. (Shaw, lnt#1)Similar recollections can be cited from the interviews of every other student in this study.Clearly the expectation of “change” was well entrenched before they even set foot inGuatemala.For the candidates at Steveston, this perception was also intensified by conversationswith the student teacher whose background of work in Guatemala was outlined earlier in thechapter. Mary CoIl brought a wealth of insights to these students and was instrumental inshaping the substance of their prior knowledge of Guatemala. However, in the same fashion151as past participants, she stimulated the perception that this event was bound to affect themin a profound manner. For Kaily Soila, conversations with Mary and other alumni of thetour provided a powerful reinforcement of her initial decision to apply for the program:J.S.: If you look back now over the last few months, what has motivated youto become part of the program?KaiIy One thing that baited me was listening to other people talk about it.Like it just makes me so excited and I really want to go down there and helpother people. Like what she [Mary] said; it changes our lives and everythinglike that. This is what I want to do when I am older. I want to help out likethis and it has motivated me to go down there. (Soila, lnt#2)The consistency of these expectations across the group is important because it had broadimplications on how they would observe and react to situations while in Guatemala. In termsof this study, the prevalence of these preconceptions of anticipated impact makes it harder todiscern whether or not documented changes in their perceptions are purely a response toevents in Guatemala or whether their observations are largely reinforcements of previouslyheld notions which they gained from other individuals. Also, one must consider thepossibility of strong individual and peer oriented pressures for the students to reportexperiencing the same kind and intensity of effects as those who have previously gone on thetour. This made it all the more important to observe instances in their later interviews andconversations, where the students openly resisted or were critical of these preconceivednotions of change.The established profile of the Casa Guatemala program within the three schools as ahumanitarian venue was another factor which played a role in shaping the students’perceptions of what they were engaging in. Not only were the subjects able to draw cleardistinctions between their program and other student travel exchanges in the schools, butthey were also quite frank in differentiating the characteristics of students who applied tovarious types of trips including their own. While the students understood that the tour152agenda in Guatemala included a substantial amount of sight-seeing they felt that the trip wasfundamentally different from other trips in its purpose and orientation. In the words ofHolly:There’s actually a point to it. The other trips seem to go to France or somewhere. Well what’s the point? You’re going there to sight-see, you’re notreally doing anything...or to Japan. There just seems to be more value to thistrip, on the whole,for your life. You’ll get something out of it, you’ll getsomething in return, unlike other trips. (Range, lnt#2)For Holly, the feeling that they were going to help with the orphanage was the one featurewhich distinguished this tour from others. In this sense there was a underlying current ofpolitical efficacy around the trip which appealed to her and the others. Tim also shared thisperspective, however, he also felt that there was a more definitive difference which set thisjourney apart from most others:J.S.: How does the Casa Guatemala program and the trip compare to other schooltrips abroad?Tim: The fact that it’s to the ‘Third World’. Most of the trips that I hear aboutgo to France and Japan, which is really wonderful, because you’re learningabout different culture and stuff, just like here, but there’s not that ‘ThirdWorld’ aspect...l guess more of a culture shock than anything, and also there’sthe fact that you are doing, you are actually creating a classroom for thesestudents...and you are doing hands-on work for these children. (Long, lnt#2)The idea that the Casa Guatemala tour was breaking the mould of student travel byventuring to a less affluent region of the world seems basic in one sense, but thisunderscores the notion held by the students that the program was special and that they, byvirtue of their involvement, were a distinctive group of students. While most held to thebelief that the participation in the tour would ultimately be beneficial to all of their peers,they nonetheless commonly perceived that those who where best suited to the programrepresented a more inquisitive, open-minded, empathetic, appreciative, other regarding andless materialistic cross-section of students:153J.S.: What kind of students are suited for this program?Kally: Not just think of themselves and actually think about other people.J.S.: Anything else you think about in terms of who is suited?KaiIy Just have a good heart and up spirit, because don’t go down there and goIike,’This is so awful.’ But, go down there with an open mind and actually lookopen-minded and everything and think how lucky we are and just be open-minded and enjoy the things you are seeing. (Soila, lnt#1)There was also the implication that suitable participants had a greater tendency towardslifelong advocacy and activism in reference to issues of social justice:J.S.: What kind of students are suited to this program?Jane: A student who totally cares, like someone who just totally cares aboutgoing, who isn’t just going to see Guatemala and to go shopping and stuff, someonewho wants to go and see the children and someone who wants to help. Someonewho like in their later life, after graduation, after university, wants to do something, not be a lawyer. I’m not saying lawyers suck or anything, I’m just saying...someone...just to have a career where you might go to Casa Guatemala and workthere for a while...somebody who really cares and wants to make a change andwants to know more. (Lamb, lnt#2)The substance of these statements is very revealing in the way it provides a glimpseof how the participants perceived themselves and their immediate peer group. While thestudents never expressed the concept of “suitability” along purely ideological lines, theywere clearly able to define a series of personal values and dispositions that set themselvesapart from others who did not wish to participate in the project. This adds weight to thenotion that students who become involved in the Casa Guatemala Project see it as analternative program which pays special attention to their desire to explore and expand onthese underlying values and beliefs, which are otherwise not given expression in the courseof their high school education.1 54Chapter Five: The Journey Through Guatemala5.1 Introduction: The First Steps ForwardThe group met for the last time five days prior to departure for Guatemala at the house ofJenny Coyle, the teacher representative from McNair. Bob Carkner and Roy Akune attended,as did several members of the community who had made donations for the orphanage. At thistime it was announced that the network of schools and private donors from the area hadmanaged to raise close to eleven thousand dollars [U.S.] which far exceeded the amount ofcontributions to the orphanage in previous years. Carkner and Akune were visibly pleasedas they congratulated the group for the manner in which they had supported the program andthe example they were setting for their peers and community.This farewell party marked the first occasion that all students, teachers and theresearcher had been brought together in a social setting. The level of excitement amongst allseventeen members of the travelling team was quite high. The discussions amongst thestudents wandered to everything from the horrible taste of chloroquine tablets, their sorearms and buttocks from the shots they had received, to the vast array of settings they weregoing to encounter on the two week trip. Through all of this, the orphanage weighed heavilyon their minds if only for the fact that they were asked to pack one of their two suitcaseswith the donated clothes and books. To this atmosphere was added the video GuatemalaJourney which played in the background as they went about packing their bags. There was acommon feeling amongst the students that new sets of friendships were being forged. Thiswas based on a shared perception of their common humanitarian values, exemplified by thedesire to “help” the orphans of Casa Guatemala and experience a “Third World” country forthe first time. Days prior to this gathering Alice Gibson mentioned in her journal:I’m really glad that I’ve really gotten to know people, because it’s important to155get to know other people, other than your usual friends. I’ve really gotten toknow Kaily Soila and Elizabeth Arch and we are all close now.1 I think that ourentire group is to get to know each other really well and we are going to sharean experience that we will never forget. (Gibson, Journal)The group met at Vancouver International Airport at 5:30 am. on March the 8th,1993 in preparation for the flight to Guatemala City via Chicago and Miami. Forty-sevenvery large bags were checked in at the United Airlines desk to the amazement of the ground-crew. The students were no sooner at the airport than they were already explaining thespecial purpose of their trip to other passengers who inquired into the reason for thismountain of baggage. Parents and children shared their last few minutes together as theysaid their good-byes and then the group departed through U.S. Customs.While the students encountered Guatemala in their own way, and no doubt drew theirown lessons from the experience, there remains a common progression in the nature of theirresponses to the events.2 The first week in the country was spent visiting different touristsites in the area around Guatemala City, Antigua and Tikal. During the first days of the tourthe students’ discourse focused on specific cultural insights that informed their growingknowledge and perceptions of life in Guatemala. From such observations they were able todraw larger generalizations concerning the social, economic and political context within thenation. Second, from the onset of their odyssey the students drew comparisons with theirown society and background. As the days passed and the tour entered the second week at theorphanage on the Rio Dulce, the substance and emphasis of this comparative discoursebecame more intense and critical in nature. By this time, three consistent themes wereapparent in students’ observations: a) greater appreciation of the benefits of living in Canada1 Pseudonyms have been used for all twelve student participants on the trip.2 These observations were based on a review of transcripts, journals and researcher’s notes.156with a specific emphasis on health and education, b) intensified alienation from, and arejection of, North American values and lifestyles, praise and affection towards Guatemalanculture, reflections on career and future implications on their own lives and value systems,and C) an intensified sense of advocacy related to “Third World” issues. These themes wereamplified four weeks after their return to Richmond. By this time, the students also beganto express a more directed sense of alienation towards their peers, teachers and immediatecommunity and in some instances, a critical dimension to their perceptions of the media’sportrayal of life in Guatemala and the “Third World” in general.5.2 Guatemala City: Just Another “North American” TownIt just felt that every time we were driving back from Antigua or a little town orvillage I felt like I was going home. It was so depressing. I don’t know why. Justbecause I sort of saw Guatemala City as just like any other place here; like goinginto the Canadian airport. I just felt like we were all going home. It was sodepressing every time we were going back to Guatemala City. (Shaw, lnt#4)The group arrived in Guatemala City at seven o’clock in the evening and were immediatelyconfronted by immigration officers backed by teenage soldiers who stood quietly in offices offto the side of the processing booths. For many students this was their first glance at thesecold and imposing characters wearing camouflage uniforms, black boots and semi-automaticmachine guns. During the next two weeks this rather threatening image would fade into arelatively normal and less obtrusive part of the everyday scenery throughout Guatemala.Nevertheless, it was a potent symbol of authority for the students and a stark contrast to thenorms in the society from which they had come. Once the team cleared immigration theygathered their luggage and loaded a separate bus which was ready to whisk them away to theirhotel in the heart of the city. It was at this point that the group members were introduced toEmilio, the group’s tour guide who, through his stories and interpretation, would become oneof the most influential sources of knowledge concerning the realities of daily life in157Guatemala. Going to the vehicle the group was besieged by a throng of child beggars andvendors who pleaded for money or masked the same intent by offering wilted flowers andcolourfully braided pencils for sale. The incident had immediate impact on the students’perceptions of life in Guatemala and set the tone of their reflections for the rest of theirstay:Once we loaded our luggage we rolled outside and got our first glimpse ofGUATEMALA! Kids and mothers lined up asking for money and food. It was quiteshocking. I didn’t know what to do. We bought flowers from a lady who had atiny baby and we gave the kids granola bars, candy and Canadian pins. A littleboy walked up to me and asked me for my Canadian pin. I was quite emotionallymoved. I took it off and pinned it on his collar of his obvious worn out clothes...It was so sad. Here we are with all the money in the world and then there arethese poverty stricken children in front of us. When we were walking on thebus, we looked to our left and there was about a four year old boy walking allby himself on a dark street. I don’t understand; how can our world come to this?What have people done to deserve this kind of life? (Soila, Journal)The most interesting aspect of this exchange was the total lack of apprehension with whichsome of the students embraced the opportunity to engage in conversations with these totalstrangers. Their eagerness to establish rapport and communication with other children andadults would continue to be a typical response to situations throughout the tour.Minutes later the bus departed from the airport for the short ride to the Hotel VillaEspanol, the home base for the group while in Guatemala. While on route to the hotel the buspassed through the modern streets of “zone ten” in the city, lined with internationalfranchise outlets which included everything from Benetton’s to McDonald’s. These storesserved as a rather bizarre point of reference to several of the students who seemed quiteexcited and, yet, amazed to discover something familiar in this strange new place. No soonerhad the hotel rooms been assigned and baggage unloaded than several groups of the studentsheaded up the street to get dinner at one of these icons of North American civilization. Laterthat evening the teachers, Dr. Bracken and several of the students were introduced to158Guillermo Mendoza and Angie Galdamez who had come to the hotel to meet the members of thisyear’s contingent and thank them for their contribution to the orphanage. At that point KailySoila, Elizabeth Arch and Nancy Lee came rushing into the hotel lobby, laughing and pantingto announce that they had just climbed a monument in a traffic circle down the Street, to thenoise of honking horns and jeers from the cars passing below (Soila, Journal). AngieGaldamez and Guillermo Mendoza looked on at the two in astonishment as they heard thestory. Angie then told them that she had done the same thing as a teenager, when she was newto Guatemala City several decades earlier. Furthermore, she pointed out that she had beenarrested and thrown in jail for this offence with a few of her friends. The monument was, infact, dedicated to General Miguel Garcia Granados, the first president of the independentRepublic of Guatemala [1871-1873]. Angie also explained that such monuments were heldin high esteem as a national symbol of pride, especially so at the cadet training facility formilitary officers located just across the Street. The students were mortified by thisrevelation as they pondered the potential ramifications of their actions; only later tocomment on how different this was from their own society. Nancy Lee was quick to point outthat she and her friends had climbed statues in Stanley Park in Vancouver in the past and itwas never considered, in their view, to be an act of disrespect. The next morning GuillermoMendoza joked with the students that he had received several phone calls from the police andmilitary regarding the incident who demanded that students’ names be forwarded to localheadquarters immediately. Needless to say, this was the last time anyone in the group daredto engage in similar actions during the remainder of the trip. The group had not been inGuatemala four hours when the first lessons of the tour were already taking shape.The events of this first evening were also acting as a means through which thestudents became better acquainted with one another. While there are several instanceswhere students refer to this early period in the trip as one of fostering new friendships159(Gibson, Journal; Long, Int#3), others began to see their peers in a more critical light.Jane Lamb discussed an incident that occurred on that first night while walking home withthe group that had gone forth to McDonald’s. The event left her wondering about the frame ofreference and motivations of one her peers:Jane: I think that some of the people in the group are just totally ignorant too.J.S.: What do you mean by ignorant?Jane: Someone in the group, they said to me, we were walking in Guatemala Citylast night, and he is like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait until it is daytime and we can see everyone walking around and doing things,’ and he is like, ‘Oh it will be really niceand stuff.’ I was just.. .he totally expected it to be nice and totally beautiful. Hewas so surprised with the street kids at the airport and I was like, ‘It’s going tobe ten times worse in the daytime in Guatemala City. You are just going to seejust as many Street kids if not more.’ He just did not think of it and he is like,‘Oh, I know.’ He didn’t or else he just wouldn’t have said things. He didn’t; hewas just like,’ Oh let’s go to the Chanel store so I can get a Polo shirt for my dad,because it will be cheap here.’ I guess some people are here for different reasons.(Lamb, lnt#3)This incident was so intriguing for Jane that she also made mention of it in her diary (Lamb,Journal). While some may have been exploring new friendships, others simultaneouslywitnessed the rapid emergence of divisions within the group, based on what many perceivedto be ulterior and suspect motives of the other individuals (Soila, lnt#3). Such differenceswould become more apparent and intense as the days progressed.The following morning the group toured through the crowded and busy streets ofGuatemala City in a private bus, accompanied by Emilio Juarez who provided a runningcommentary on the sights they passed. The first stop was the city’s central plaza that waslocated in front of the Presidential Palace. Emilio Juarez discussed the pattern and historyof settlement in the city, focusing on the numerous earthquakes which had repeatedlyflattened various churches and government buildings during the past five centuries. Thejourney out of the city included a tour of the different “zones” which comprised, not only160separate administrative districts of the municipality, but also the different classes ofneighbourhoods, of which “zone ten” represented the most affluent sector with its five starhotels, shopping facilities, night clubs and dining establishments. On the way out of the city,en route to Antigua, Emillio pointed out the middle and lower-class zones where one couldbuy or build a home for less than a few hundred dollars U.S. The students listened inamazement as he explained that if he wished to have a shower or obtain a day’s supply ofwater for the household, he had to wake at five in the morning as this was the only time whenthe water mains were in operation. Not long after this the group passed over a bridgebetween two banks of a deep ravine, the slopes of which were crowded by tin and cardboardshacks. Not wanting the students to miss this situation, Emillo elaborated on the fact thatthese “barrios” were expanding rapidly in the area surrounding the greater metropolitanregion. Beyond the click of a few cameras the group sat silent on the bus in disbelief of whatthey were seeing (Soila, lnt#3).Their brief encounter with Guatemala City over, students later remarked on theliving conditions and characteristics of the urban lifestyle which they had witnessed. HollyRange was struck by the lack of electricity and services in most of the districts (Range,lnt#3). Tim Long commented on how Guatemala City was, “just another North Americantown; I mean the bathroom toilets are made by the same people as our toilets at home andthere is McDonald’s and Pizza Hut,” (Long, lnt#3). Kaily Soila provided a lucid series ofobservations in her description of the scenery:Kaily: I also noticed how Americanized all their clothes were. Like they must besent down here. ..Like one boy had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and one girl hada Levis shirt with ‘Button Your Fly’. That just came out. You really notice theadvertising and everything that they have. Like in all the advertising is whitepeople. You know, girls with blond hair, guys with brown hair or whatever.That was different because down here they are brown...You wonder why they don’thave their own people on the billboards.J.S.: Why do you think?161Kally: Well because it attracts them more. I was talking to the lady from thelanguage centre. She said that guys here just totally admire the girls with lightskin and green or blue eyes...When they see this they think it is amazing. It islike they look up to white people...which is kind of sad that it is true because thatis were they get a lot of their money from and things like that. (Soila, lnt#3)The clarity of insight in this observation was not atypical of other students’ responses to theenvironment they encountered. While the learning experience was not formally structuredit was still serving to provide a very intense format of reflection.5.3 Antigua: Learning About Life In Guatemala From the Tourist BeatAll I can say right now is it’s amazing. It is nothing like I thought it would be.I feel kind of bad because here we are so rich to the Guatemalans. I feel reallytouristy right now, but I know we are learning a lot from the villages and thekids. (Soila, Journal)Once the bus had cleared the outskirts of Guatemala City the group sat back and enjoyed theride to Antigua, passing by a number of smaller villages and communities along the way. Thegroup observed women and children carrying huge loads of wood or other supplies on theirbacks as they climbed up steep paths or the shoulders of the winding roads:I thought when you saw the ladies with their kids carrying water, because theyhad no water in their village and they had to walk, he said [Emillio], like overfour kilometers a day just to get water. Like for us, all we have to do is walk afew steps to our tap. I mean this is their daily life having to do this. (Soila,lnt#3)The next stop was on the grounds of a massive multinational coffee plantation at the base oftwo volcanoes located just outside of Antigua. Emilio took the group up a service road to seethe plants and then provided a brief lecture on the growing, harvesting and processing of thebeans. Several of the students were stunned to hear of the working conditions and wagelevels of labourers who picked the crop (Range, Journal). Jane Lamb described what shediscovered this way:162Workers who work there pick normally 100 lbs. of beans per day and get paid12 Quetzales per day. That is not equivalent to even $2.50 U.S. Pathetic!!!(Lamb, Journal)Even though phrases like “sexual division of labour” and “fair wage” did not enter into theirvocabulary, it was clear that these images had provided the substance for the development ofsuch conceptual frameworks in the future.In Alotenango the students first glimpsed peasant life in small rural villages. Mayawomen were dressed in brilliant hand woven blouses, sitting on street corners while sellingvegetables and fruit. Others were busy hand washing the family clothes at the public sinksjust off the main square. The men sat together in the shade with their cowboy hats makinginquisitive glances towards the bus as we arrived. At the same moment several dozenchildren were led in single file to the playground for recess. Nearby a heavily armedmilitary patrol passed through the back streets of the village behind the school. The localspaid no obvious attention to the troops. Members of the group began taking pictures andimmediately joined the soccer game taking place in a dusty courtyard. Kaily Soila was caughtup in the activities, but later referred to the situation with a critical and analyticalperspective:Sometimes I felt really out of place. Especially when all the boys were playingsoccer and all the ladies were doing the washing. I wasn’t quite sure. I wasn’tcomfortable taking a picture. I felt bad we were invading their privacy or something. It just seemed like their whole village was on show to show how poor theywere. I felt really bad like we were invading their privacy, like we shouldn’t bethere. (Soila, lnt#3)To this she also added an interesting comparison:I think I wasn’t expecting that people would be just staring at you like you areout of place. I thought it would be like in Canada when tourists are there but youcan’t really tell. But here you just stick out. Everyone, when we are on the bus,everyone just stares at you. I guess it is just because you are different. (Soila,lnt#3)Jane Lamb referred to a similar reaction, but depicted the impression of feeling like a,163“Japanese tourist,” back in Canada (Lamb, lnt#3). For many of the students thecharacterization of being a tourist was not something they were at all comfortable with and,as was the case with other perceptions, this was a feeling that would grow to aggravate themmore in the days to follow. For several students the break for lunch that day exemplified theparadox of being a wealthy tourist for several of the students (Soila, Journal; Range,Journal; Gibson, Journal). Lunch was eaten in a very lavishly appointed hotel dinning roomwith a clientele of wealthy Guatemalans, Europeans and North Americans. Prices and thecontents of the menu reflected the tastes and expectations of such customers. Studentsreferred to the “snotty” rich people and described the experience as disturbing because ofthe customers’ attitudes and treatment of the waiting staff.On the road back to Antigua the group stopped in briefly at several locations,including “Carolina’s” for a look at authentic Maya handicrafts. Two young women kneltbefore hand looms as they worked on wall hangings which adorned the walls of the shop. Asthe group poured through the shop and made another round of purchases, Rosa Laconte, theSpanish teacher from Richmond High, got dressed up in typical Maya garb and posed for apicture. The group was told by Jaurez that one could only barter up to fifteen to twentypercent of the stated price of the goods at this outlet as compared to other places were thegoods were less authentic or factory produced. In that case, one could easily bargain twicethat percentage. The group had learned the bartering rules in order to shop for “Gringotourist goods”. Juarez also explained the nature and background of the styles of traditionaldress in the country. The workers at the looms noted that one blouse worn by the womencould take up to two months to weave and that patterns in their dress denoted which area orvillage they came from.Departing from “Carolina’s”, the group travelled through dirt roads lined with fencesand peasant houses made from dried cornstalks which Juarez explained was the most164abundant and cheapest building material for these people. He also made note of the fact thatany one of these huts could be home to a very large extended family. On the outskirts ofAntigua the group stopped briefly at the village of Santiago. In the village square, in front ofan imposing and very old white cathedral, the students stepped out to take a look around.Within minutes they were surrounded by children from the local school which had just beendismissed for the day. Jane and Alice were conversant in Spanish and decided to talk to thechildren. They asked the children to sign their names in a book they had with them entitled“New Friends”. They suddenly disappeared into a crowd of children who pushed and shoutedwhile waiting impatiently to write their signatures in the book. In Jane’s case this incidentwas a more positive example of interaction with the locals than the one she had encounteredearlier in the day in Guatemala City when a student mocked her attempt to engage in aconversation (Lamb, Journal). For the Richmond students, experiences like this oneexemplified what they commonly perceived as the friendly and open nature of Guatemalanpeople. Greeting perfect strangers on the street was not a form of casual behaviour theywere accustomed to. Nonetheless they thoroughly appreciated this cultural norm. Withinthe first few days several of the students acknowledged that the general approachability ofpeople was shattering some of their preconceived fears of coming to Guatemala (Shaw,lnt#3). In fact, it was with absolute relief that some the students realized that theGuatemalans were not all about to steal from them:I expected it to be scarier than it is. It is not scary at all. When we walk downthe streets all together I don’t feel threatened at all. The people are so friendlyto us and everybody that I walk by they say, ‘Hola,’ and we say, ‘Hola.’ I don’tfeel they are going to take my purse. (Shaw, lnt# 3)The prior expectation by some of the students that they would be treated with distance andhostility by Guatemalans seemed incongruent with these students’ willingness to engage ingames and conversations in villages like Alotenango and Santiago. It is perhaps a deeper165indication of their assimilation of the media’s portrayal of tourist culture in foreigncountries, through such medium as American Express commercials. Any remainingapprehension about interaction with locals seemed to dissolve as the week passed.Late that afternoon, after visiting a local jade factory, the group checked into thePosada del Don Rodrigo; purported to be the oldest hotel in Central America. In excitementand a little bit of astonishment at the facilities, several members of the group ventured tothe various rooms occupied by the group to make comparisons. The hotel was an impressivemuseum in its own right with rooms distinctively appointed with colonial period antiquefurniture, a central courtyard complete with a pair of domesticated parrots and a separategarden filled with tropical plants visible from a restaurant where Maya waitresses weredressed in their traditional clothes. Although the group appreciated these rather poshsurroundings, many of the students questioned the implications of this opulence. Forexample, Alice Gibson acknowledged that she, “didn’t think that we should stay in bigexpensive hotels because it would be kind of like the opposite of what we are here to do,”(Gibson, lnt#3). Others, such as Jane Lamb, expressed similar concerns but appreciatedthe fact that the group was staying in nice hotels if only for the reason that it might end upbeing better for all of them in terms of their health (Lamb, lnt#3). Beyond the fact thatAntigua was one of the most popular and picturesque cities in Guatemala, the central reasonfor coming to this location was to participate in a day-and-a-half of intensive Spanishlessons. The students felt far more comfortable in Antigua than they had in Guatemala Citybecause of its smaller size, rustic charm and relative docility. Here, the students were ableto mingle both with locals and other visitors, quench their pressing desire to buy souvenirsand attend the festivities marking the four-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the city,which by sheer chance, occurred on the second night of the group’s stay there. Studentsdescribed this last event as the “Coca-Cola” celebration because of that corporation’s more166than obvious sponsorship of the event that featured, “rich girls performing a dance whichwas so awful, it was like a bad, bad, bad imitation of Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” (Gibson,Journal). In the end, however, Antigua did not provide many vivid and impressiverecollections, nor was it a place which instilled the desire to document a long list ofmemories in their journals.5.4 San Jose ChiIIijuyu: The “Happy Poor”I just remember, so clearly, walking into that school room and all the littlegirls were there and they were sitting like this, like up so straight, and theywere just so proud to be in school and just so happy. They were so proud andit was just so cool to see some kids eager to learn and happy to be in school.You could tell they just all tried their hardest because they knew it was asacrifice for their parents to get them there. They were the raddest kids.That was the best experience. Just think about the kids who jack off at schooland don’t care at all and school’s not a big deal for them here [Canada]. Butthen you think, ‘I wish you could all go and see that and just see some kids whowould just cut their arm off to come to a school like this,’ you know? Like thatwas the best. (Lamb, lnt#4)Day four of the tour brought the group to a small peasant village called San Jose Chillijuyuin the gentle rolling hillsides along the highway to Chichicastenango. Chillijuyu is a farmingcommunity which had been occupied by Maya peasants for centuries according to Emilio, whowas himself of native ancestry and from this region of Guatemala. It was here that thestudents got their first detailed look at the living conditions of the majority of people in thispart of the world. The focus of the stop at Chillijuyu was to visit the six room school housewhich was just being completed. Emilio led the group into the kindergarten class and begantelling the students about the circumstances under which this facility operated. Neglected bythe national government, this school was maintained through funds supplied largely by theparents of the village who collectively had made the choice to provide the materials for abetter standard of education than most other peasant children received in the country. The167Richmond students listened attentively to hear that teachers were paid six hundred Quetzalesper month [$120 U.S.] and received no institutional training whatsoever. The children ofthe class sang two songs for the group, one in their local dialect and the other in Spanish.The songs had an instant emotional impact on the teenagers, some of whom smiled with atearful eye. What follows is a selection of their comments regarding this occasion:Their life seems so sad to us, yet they seem so happy. They were so excited tosee us, every class welcoming us in. In Canada it is always such a disturbancefor them to be interrupted in the middle of a class, but for them it was soexciting. I love these people. I wish all people could be like them. (Soila,Journal)We walked into the school and all of the little girls were sitting up so straightand proper and smiling. So willing to learn and so happy. They were all sogorgeous. They sang some songs for us. I had to hold back my tears so hard sothey didn’t think I was sad. I am unable to explain their beauty. (Lamb,Journal)For Tim the chance to talk with the children and look around the school, instilled aperception of these native children as the “happy poor’ of Guatemala. These thoughtsbrought forth a less emotional, but nevertheless astute observation of a major contradictionin the nature of the prevailing dialogue between “First” and “Third World” communities:Tim: I look at these kids and they might be poor and stuff, but they are happy andthey are so grateful and stuff. Especially today more than ever, when we wentto the school, the native school, it just boggled my mind that they looked so happyand stuff even though they don’t have that much. And here we are really, neverreally satisfied with what we have and stuff. I often wonder who it is that needshelp. Do they or do we? Things like that sort of work both ways in that we helpthem, but in the same way we are helping each other. Before I was thinking thatwe were going down to do some good and help them and stuff, but really, I havereally realized the two way Street that it was.J.S.: What do you mean exactly?Tim: I think I look at them and I start to learn to be a little more satisfied withwhat I have. (Long, lnt#3)This perception of the dirt poor, struggling and “happy” Guatemalan peasant was anobservation repeatedly expressed in various forms and at different times, by all six students168in the study (Range, lnt#3; Gibson, lnt#4). In fact, the image of these people as welcomingand warm-hearted souls who, in the face of such adversity, managed a complete and fulfillinglife, added depth and perspective to Tim’s appreciation of his own standard of living. AsLinda Shaw pointed out:When we were at the Indian escuela, it seemed to me, when we got there, thatthey were so happy with what they had. They were so happy to be in school.If we were put in the situation they were put in, the school was, what do youcall it, it was rudimentary compared to our schools. I think I am sure if wewere put in that situation now we wouldn’t be able to hand it. (Shaw, lnt#3)During the time that Emilio provided his explanation of the school, he had asked thatthe male teachers and Dr. Bracken stand separately to the back of the room. His narrativethen focused on hope for the future of Guatemala as personified in the lives of “these littleboys”. For Holly Range and several other female members of the group, his ratherexclusionary monologue, coupled with the separation of the adult male members of the team,was a powerful reflection of the dominant social order in Guatemalan life (Shaw, lnt#3).Linda Shaw interpreted the event in this manner:One thing I noticed was it is a very male dominated society, which is one thingthat I didn’t really notice until we went to the escuela...they separated us andput Mr. Seney and you and Dr. Bracken in the back alone and the way theytalked about how, ‘You see these faces, you see these faces in the class, thesewill be the boys of tomorrow in Guatemala.’ That was a total shock. I thought Imisunderstood him until someone said, ‘Wow, this is total domineering,’ likemale domineering. (Shaw, lnt#3)The chauvinism displayed in this one instance was part of a broader recognition of maledominance and “machismo” in Guatemalan society (Range, Journal; Range, lnt#3).5.5 Chichicastenango: The “Bargain Basement” of GuatemalaWhen I was there I just didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel that that was the realGuatemala. I thought it was just a big trap to get lots of money. And I guessthe people there expect that now because it’s successful because so manytourists go there, but I don’t think that that’s what Guatemala is all about;169personally. (Gibson, lnt#4)As the bus negotiated the snake-like road up to Chichicastenango, Juarez pointed out thebroken and charred wreckage of a textile factory that was bombed several years ago byrevolutionary forces operating in this area of the Quiche. Before the group was unleashedfor the day in this tourist mecca he warned the students that they should be back at thesecured parking lot, ready to leave no later than 3:30 pm., as one of the last tour buses outon market day in the previous week had been robbed by local bandits. With pockets loaded inGuatemalan currency, members of the group made their way into the crowded streets andmarkets of this hilltop town for a harried day of bargaining. During the day Tim earned areputation as a ruthless bargain-master and jokingly dubbed himself “Poverty Maker”(Long, lnt#4). At one point throughout the day he made the interesting observation thatmany of the stalls were occupied solely by children who carried out the daily commerce.Furthermore, he emphasized that one had to really step back and take note of this situationbecause it was too easy to fail to make the distinction that these were not adults operatingbehind the tables.3 After haggling over prices with street vendors for several hours, thegroup finally reassembled at the bus. By this time it was already choked with bags stuffedwith merchandise. With great excitement, the students began to display their bargains andsouvenirs for family members and friends back home.Although some of the students reported being caught up in shopping in Chichicastenango, it was not a situation on which they would look back with much affection. Timrecalled the events of the day in this manner:Chichicastenango. Well I still feel guilty for what I did when I started asking3 The students and teachers broke up into several smaller groups for the day. The researcherspent a great deal of time during the day with Tim and teacher Rosa Laconte. This account isbased on one of many conversations which took place in the market throughout the day withthese individuals.170for obscene prices and actually getting some...The main thing I take from it isme bargaining and almost cheating; not cheating, but taking things for very,very small prices. I still feel guilty for that. I wish I hadn’t been so ruthlessI guess, but I guess you learn from it...lt was not that I was being cheap, it wasthe challenge of it...We were on a vacation. I needed something really tangibleto take a challenge. (Long, lnt#3)Others reported being absolutely repulsed at what had transpired there (Shaw, lnt#4). ForJane Lamb, the setting and experience was very symbolic of the relative financial power andattitudes of individuals visiting there from her own culture:We are so damn rich and we are so lucky. Like we are so rich. Even I feel likeI am totally snotty because I won’t pay four bucks for a pair of shorts. Youknow, like I want to go a dollar less. Like, ‘Gee Jane you are really spendingyour money like a rich person aren’t you.’ Like I am just sick to think that Iwon’t pay five bucks for a pair of shorts when like to me my parents would payforty for a pair of shorts for me, but here I will pay five...The point isn’t thatthey are ripping me off because they aren’t because I can afford it. (Lamb,lnt#3)On a somewhat different note, three of the students bore witness to the way in which tourismin Chichicastenango had changed the way local vendors interacted with foreign visitors. Thiswas a stark contrast to what they had just witnessed from local people in other places suchas San Jose Chillijuyu:It seemed to me that people were different in ‘Chichi’ compared to the peoplewe met in Antigua. I guess because they were used to having to totally bargainwith foreigners because that is their life and that is how they make theirmoney from foreigners. (Soila, lnt#3)I really don’t think that they liked us much. I think they resent when you bringthem down to such a low price and then you pull out a wad of money, which youdon’t mean to do, but you pull out a wad of money and you try and pull the billsaway that you are supposed to give them and sometimes they shake their head andyou feel stupid because you try and get down to the lowest price you can which islike three dollars in American dollars which is nothing for us. (Shaw, lnt#3)The people seemed like all they wanted was our money and they all seemed towatch us and watch our cameras and watch us counting our money and it made mefeel really uncomfortable. I also felt that because I could speak Spanish theydidn’t give me good deals on things. (Gibson,Journal)If the visit to Chichicastenango had managed to accomplish anything it was the manner in171which it curbed the students appetite to engage in further shopping expeditions while on thetour. In fact, the excursion only seemed to intensify the students’ resentment of being thrustso deeply into this tourist centered mode of interaction with the people of Guatemala, whenthey had originally believed they were going to assist the children of an isolated orphanage.5.6 Tikal, Flores and the Camino Real: Temples, Poverty and Karaoke BarsThen we went to our hotel which was the most luxurious hotel I have everstayed in. It was called the Tikal Camino Real and it is owned by WestinBayshore. But, it was so inappropriate for Guatemala because it is someresort for rich ‘gringos’ and meanwhile down the street are some peoplewho probably make less in one day from farming than some people whowork in the restaurants do from their tips...But we were going to volunteerat an orphanage and it felt wrong to go and stay in this fancy resort. (Gibson,Journal)The flight to Flores from Guatemala City was a brief fifty minutes. Upon arrival, the groupwas met by a guide named Pedro, who would act as host and interpreter for the day at theruins of Tikal. Pedro was a young man who had little formal education, yet he possessed abroad depth of knowledge of the region that was very impressive. Early in the tour hedisclosed that as a teenager he was pressed into service with the Guatemalan military forthree years of mandatory service. His comments regarding this period in his life and natureof the government in Guatemala captured the group’s attention, adding another perspective totheir understanding of the region. Tikal was awe-inspiring from an historical perspective.As the group meandered through the well groomed paths cut between dense tropical jungle,they stopped to see howler and spider monkeys, climbed several temples and sporadicallylistened to Pedro’s commentary of the ruins. For many individuals it was hard to imaginethat a city which ultimately reached a population estimated at over 150,000 Maya people,once existed there. Several of the students noted that they recognized one of the temples as ithad appeared in a Nike running shoe commercial. However, the more important link172between the past and present represented by this site was drawn by others:It was just amazing to see these structures and the dedication that these peopleof the past had and it seemed unfair because the school we went to before wasmade up of the descendants of this great civilization and now they lived in somuch destruction and poverty in those areas. It just seemed so ironic. (Long,lnt#4)It was a hot and muggy day. By the time the group had finished a late lunch at thebase of Temple IV, many felt they had experienced enough of trekking through the ruins. Thegroup split up for a few hours while Pedro completed his tour with several of the studentsand teachers. The others were taken by bus and waited back at the entrance pavilion. Byfour in the afternoon the group was headed down the road to the Tikal Camino Real. On routewe passed by hundreds of peasant farmsteads that lined the roadside. Many of the studentspondered what it must be like to live in such a remote place. Rumors spread through the busthat the hotel the group was staying at that evening was an extremely posh, five staroperation. Tim had learned this from a Fodor’s guide book that one of the passengers sharedwith him while on the plane that morning (Long, Int#4). Bruce Seney was puzzled at thisdestination because it wasn’t the facility booked on the official itinerary. Before evenarriving he expressed concern that this hotel was going to be little too opulent for his tastesand that several students had already stated that they were not at all happy with this turn ofevents because it seemed to represent such a blatant contradiction to their intended purposefor being in Guatemala.4As the bus pulled into the Camino Real the mood of disbelief amongst the students wasintense. Porters helped check baggage while several individuals ventured forth for an initial4 The group had been booked originally at a moderate hotel in Flores. Because of recent flooding onlake Peten ltza this facility was unavailable. The group was booked into the Camino Real while thegroup was in Guatemala and the change of plans had not been relayed to Bruce Seney, the tripsupervisor. Bruce mentioned the displeasure of the students to the change of bookings as they werestated to him on the bus, to the researcher while the group was staying on location.173reconnaissance of the facilities. Several conversations centred on a sense of confusion anddisappointment with what had transpired. If there was one consolation to the situation, itwas the fact that the hotel had a swimming pool. Soon after checking in it was filled bymembers of the group who, by that time, were beginning to shed their earlier feelings atwhat had come to pass. Linda Shaw elaborated on the rapid shifts in her emotions at thispoint:We drove past all the huts, we were just realizing how amazing the huts were.I kept on saying how I wanted to go stay in the hut and not the five star hotel.So we drove past, we drove to the hotel and I just said, ‘This is stupid. I can’tbelieve we are staying here. This is so ridiculous. It makes me feel so guilty.’I heard it from everybody. In my ears I kept hearing, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty.’We walked in and got our card, we saw the pool and we ran to our rooms and gotin our bathing suits and ran into the pool with fountains flowing out of the water.I think I got over the guilt pretty quickly because we were in this pool in likefive minutes. That is how I saw it. Our guilt was pretty shallow. (Shaw,Int#4)Regardless of how nice it might have been to have a pooi that evening, others in the grouplooked back at the situation and expressed a lasting sense of disillusionment with the wholeaffair (Long, Int#3).Even though the facilities in Antigua were comparable to those of the Camino Real,the student’s sense of hostility towards the event lingered on long after the tour was finished.Holly Range revisited her interpretation of the events of that night in these comments:It makes you feel so guilty. You are not on that trip to go to some nice hotelwith a swimming pool and Karaoke. That is not the point of the trip. It is anice gesture but not the point...Most people felt that it was a little too ritzyfor the purpose of our trip and their parents thought so too. Like, they heardthat we were staying in four or five star hotels and they just disagreed withthat too. (Range, Int#4)Jane Lamb’s tone was a little more strident in her condemnation of the situation and itsapparent significance:It was disgusting. It was nice but it should have been in Palm Springs. Like Ijust don’t think it really fit in Guatemala...It totally showed me the rich and the174poor. It showed me like a rich Guatemalan family who are going to stay therefor the weekend. It just totally showed me that there is just tons and tons ofdirt poor and there’s a couple of just rich; like rich compared to us...But Ithought it didn’t have much of a place in Guatemala.. .like what a waste of money.1 felt bad because when the bus driver would drop us off I’d be like, ‘Yeah,we’re so nice to you and stuff and then we’re going to stay in our nice big hotel.’There’s like down the Street there are just totally poor people living in villagesand then down the street a bit there’s like a huge hotel and I’m staying thereafter I’ve seen all this poverty and after I’ve seen what people do, and then I getto stay in a pool with mineral water. (Lamb, lnt#4)Alice Gibson’s observation was focused more on what the presence of the Camino Real impliedabout the political economy of the region:I think that there’s a lot of like industrialization, you know, like a big Americancompany going down and trying take it all away from them, just because of thesake of money, you know, making money. So I think that the Westin Bayshore[hotel in Vancouver] or whatever, they don’t have a lot of respect for the people,just because they probably weren’t even asked if that hotel could be there or it,you know, the land was being used for something else. They just probably wentin there and built this big hotel just to make lots of bucks. (Gibson, lnt#4)The students’ disapproval of the events that evening at the Camino Real was, in part, fosteredby the growing sense of disenchantment with spending their first week in Guatemala astourists. The entire trip was based on the notion that it was special and distinct from othertravel programs in their schools by virtue of the tact that they were going to dohumanitarian work at Casa Guatemala. The opulent surroundings of the Camino Real gavethem pause to question the legitimacy of this claim. It also demonstrated in no uncertainterms that they were members of a privileged group in a privileged society. This alsosignified that they were part of this parade of wealth at the hotel by virtue of their abilityand willingness to stay there. This was not an easy pill to swallow. It was a powerfuldemonstration of both Guatemalan and global class structure and their privileged placewithin it. Later in the evening the group sat down to a lavish birthday dinner for one of thegroup members, and ended the meal with a cake specially made by the chef who had beenflown in to open the facilities some months earlier. From that time on the Camino Real175served as a point of reference for everything that would transpire on their trip.5.7 Round Two of Guatemala City: Deepening Reflections and DivisionsToday we woke up at 9:30 and we watched Fashion T.V. and CNN on USAchannel. It was weird because we were in Guatemala. (Gibson, Journal)The following afternoon, after checking out of the Camino Real, the group headed for thesmall city of Flores while waiting for the flight back to Guatemala City. While driving intothe island town over a gravel causeway it became very apparent why we had not stayed at thehotel scheduled on the itinerary; the first floor of the establishment was under several feetof water from the flooding of Lake Peten-ltza which threatened to, or had already, destroyedmany of the houses and businesses along its shores. The lake was not connected to a naturaldrainage basin and the pumping system, installed by American engineers several decadesearlier to control water levels, had fallen into disrepair leaving the local population to themercy of the elements.Immediately after arriving in Flores the group was met by a number of maleteenagers who greeted the female students who were wearing shorts with comments like,“Hello. How are you? Nice legsl” (Gibson, Journal). The incident was innocent but itconveyed the message of how these Guatemalans viewed the tourists who frequented the area.Ironically, just days before this event, some of the students had voiced their hostility to thetrip preparation sessions which stressed the need for appropriate dress and deportment:One thing that comes to mind, it is not really to do with the people or anythinglike that, it is with what they prepared us to come here for, they prepared usthat it was going to be so bad. We can’t wear shorts or you have to always havebug repellent on or be prepared that you are going to be so sick and everything.It seems so tame. It is nothing like that at all. It is like they hyped us up and itwasn’t like that at all. Maybe it will be later but it hasn’t been like that so far.(Soila, lnt#4)As the students grew more accustomed to the surroundings and how they operated within it as176tourists, they also began to reflect less on the obvious and immediate aspects of culturaldifferences which made Guatemala distinct, and more on what these elements symbolizedabout their own lives and society. By the end of the first week of travel they had alreadystarted to construct and draw upon a variety of interpretations that emerged from theirexperiences on the tour. Their thoughts began to focus more clearly on the personalsignificance of what they were learning from the initial days of the tour. That night, back atthe Villa Espanol in Guatemala City, Linda made this comment:I am starting to see myself now as a different person. I am starting to wonderif it is me now or me before who I really am. Because, before I used to try andmake everything a joke and now it doesn’t seem like I have to now. I look atthings more seriously. (Shaw, lnt#3)Kaily Soila reiterated this point in her own way:I find that when you are here you tend to contemplate things more. You try toanalyze things and understand things and every time you see a poor person lyingon the side of a road I just kind of think about what they are doing? What werethey doing before? Why are they there? What have they been through in life?But, it seems I didn’t really care about that before. When you look at poor peoplein Canada, say you are looking downtown and some guy comes up and asks formoney, it is like, ‘Go away!’ (Soila, Int#3)Even though the students resisted and were often critical of their role as tourists, theynevertheless acknowledged the impact that these experiences were having on their changingself-perceptions.In addition to the role played by the physical setting and their observations of thesenumerous encounters, the students also began to notice the role of their peers in shapingtheir perceptions of the experience. By now the traveling and tourist routine was takingtheir toll on group dynamics. As the first week drew to a close, sub-groups were beginningto form in response to the intensity of interaction in this setting. In some cases strongundercurrents of tension ran between specific individuals (Range, Journal). Thisultimately led to a situation where one of the teachers had to change rooming assignments to177head off open hostilities. In another instance, two students formed their own clique andbegan segregating themselves from the rest of the group (Long, lnt#3). Others understoodthat these two individuals were good friends but interpreted this move as a sign that they feltthey were “more mature” than the others (Range, Int#4), and that they “just seemed likethey were there for themselves” (Lamb, Int#4).That evening Tim and these two students headed out to sample Guatemala City’sinfamous night-life in “Zona Viva” as he recalled it (Long, lnt#4). The apparentcontradiction between this act and what he had stated concerning the previous night’s eventsand the environment at the Camino Real was puzzling. When questioned about this, hereplied:We wanted to enjoy ourselves and everyone else stayed in. We were like, we arein Guatemala and it was, ‘How could you stay in?’ type of thing...’Let’s go out andsee what there is.’ We did want to enjoy ourselves to an extent. We said, ‘Well itis night time so let’s go see what the night-life is like for ourselves.’...l’m inanother culture and I am staying in a room eating Pizza Hut. It just boggles mymind. I can’t do it. (Long, lnt#4).There was a sense of disbelief and criticism reflected in this comment regarding the choice ofthe other students’ activities at the Villa Espanol that evening. This commentary serves tohighlight the differing interpretations and reactions to events amongst individual studentsand the effect this was having on the patterns of social interaction within the peer groupwhile in Guatemala.The inconsistencies between certain individuals’ dialogue and their actions wereincreasingly noticed by others in the group. By the time they began working at theorphanage a few days later, this perception helped to solidify a growing sense of divisionamongst group members based on what some individuals interpreted as inferior motivationsfor their peers participation in the program (Lamb, lnt#4). In reference to this, AliceGibson summarized her observations of group dynamics through these comments:178Like in our group, there was the talkers and the doers kind of. Like a lot ofpeople would say, ‘Okay, this is what we are going to do today, do, do, do, do,’and then, when it got down to it, there were people who actually did it andpeople who kind of just talked about it. (Gibson, lnt#3)For several of the subjects in this study, such perceptions of their peers became animportant factor in how they evaluated their own role within the group and experience withthe program. This emerging analysis of their peers’ motivations and values would alsoextend into the substance of the critique the students would construct regarding theirfriends, teachers and community when they returned home a week later.5.8 The Visit to a Baby Orphanage in Guatemala CityI felt really happy at times because I thought that at least these babies had ahome and people who really loved them and wanted to be with them. I thinkthat when I saw everybody else crying, that made me sad too. But then Ithought if they get adopted then they are very fortunate and have somethingto look forward to. (Gibson, Journal)On the morning of day seven the students visited the infant wing of the Casa Guatemalaorphanage in the downtown core of the capital city. The group entered the site to discoverover thirty babies and toddlers lying in cribs. For the first few minutes there was relativesilence as individuals wandered separately through the facilities and observed the childrenand volunteers engaged in the normal course of events at the home. As the students began topick up the children and play with them, a stream of tears started to flow which lasted untilthe group departed and passed well down the road out of Guatemala City. That night in herjournal Jane Lamb discussed how she had been strongly touched by the whole experience andone infant in particular:Then Mr. Seney said that we had to go. So I put Rosa del Carmen back in hercrib. I didn’t want to leave her so I sat on the floor and rubbed her back. Shewas so beautiful. I could only think of her life now and her future. She was sobeautiful and innocent, yet has nothing and nobody. All she needs, all theorphans need is to have someone hold them and love them...l sat there and cried179for Rosa del Carmen; for her life, her love. I do not have the faith right now tohonestly, rightfully pray for her. I feel so much for her...l cried until we hadto leave. (Lamb, Journal)While at the orphanage several of the students took turns changing the infant’s dirtydiapers while others took pictures or played with the children. During this time Emillioprovided some background information regarding the history of the orphanage and thebackground of the infants at the facility. While the conditions at the orphanage were lessthan adequate by North American standards, the students generally appreciated that thisoperation was a blessing for those children fortunate enough to be brought through the doors.Kaily remarked:I think everyone was touched by this orphanage. First of all because they arebabies and second of all because in our society we have never seen childrenbeing neglected like this. However, they have good treatment compared totheir society. (Soila, Journal)Similar to the events at the school house in San Jose Chillijuyu, the visit to theinfants orphanage played a large role in constructing a strong emotional attachment to thechildren of this part of the world. This made their perceptions of life in Guatemala muchmore personal and grounded in their direct experiences with the people they encountered.For Holly Range and others on the tour events such as this one provided the most intense andmeaningful learning experiences (Range, Journal). Indeed, witnessing the conditions underwhich these children lived brought home the full force of the impact on the students’reflections on their own lives and society back in Canada.For Tim, the situation at the baby orphanage was revealing in many ways, butthrough his own admission he was surprised at his reaction to the cries of the children wholay with soiled diapers in the cribs beneath him:When we first saw the kids I had almost made myself scared of them in someways, in that they said you will get lice and you will get this and that. I feelreally embarrassed that I was hesitant. Also it come from the fact that I comefrom a family where it is very proper...lt was such a big step, like I love kids180and I teach them and stuff and I have never been hesitant. This is the firsttime I have ever hesitated and it really bothered me so much. For the entirenight I was bothered with why did I hesitate?...The night before going to theorphanage we had a little party time or whatever and we went to the club whichwas fine and stuff, but the next day we went to the orphanage and that wasinteresting because I felt really guilty that I had spent all that money and hadenjoyed myself...l was just feeling guilty for having such a wonderful time inthat same, probably only a five minute drive from that same place were thekids were living just by themselves. (Long, lnt#3)In this one instance Tim was being forced to confront how his distaste for the childrens’hygiene restrained him from immediately demonstrating what he also perceived to be muchneeded care and affection. At the same time, his observation of their living conditions alsoserved to bring into focus the broader ethical implications that grew out of his choice ofactivities the previous evening.5.9 Casa Guatemala on the Rio Dulce: Gunboats, Mansions, Paint andPartnershipAbout the kids, you just have to remind yourself that the kids are three andfour years old and they are put into situations that adults can’t deal with...ltmakes you sort of realize that your life is not that bad compared to these onesand hopefully it will turn you around a little bit for the better. It is anexperience that you will never get again; I don’t think. (Range,3:3-4)I think it made me really mad. At some of the hotels we stayed at there weretotally touristy people. They would be asking us why we are here and we wouldsay we are just helping the orphanage...lt just seemed that they didn’t believethat we were really going to help an orphanage or really make a difference. Forme it did make a difference because I know that I am always going to want to goback to Casa Guatemala and help there...l want to see how it progresses and howit gets better. It just makes me so mad that there are so many tourists here whoare just soaking in their money and they are not taking a chance to go around andlook at this place. (Soila, Int#3)After travelling the full day along Highway #9 through the valley of the Rio Matagua, thegroup arrived at the Hotel Marimonte for the evening stop-over before moving on to theorphanage the following morning. The Marimonte was just one of many hotels that werelocated on the banks of the Rio Dulce, several miles from the Caribbean Sea. The region was181referred to as the “Riviera” of Guatemala and this image was confirmed not only by thenumber of foreign yachts that plied the waters out front of the hotel, but also by themansions which lined the shores of the river and served as summer homes or retreats forthe nation’s wealthy elite. Kevin, the owner of the Catamaran Hotel, elaborated on thepolitical setting of the Rio Dulce when he described it as being, “just like the pioneer days ofthe ‘Wild West’ in America.”5 Apparently, most of the new homes in the region were builton land confiscated from the local Ketchi community without any form of compensation orrecognition of their historical tenure over the territory. The native’s compliance with thisstate of affairs was ensured by the strong military presence in the region which took theform of navy gunboats and heavily armed helicopters that patrolled the river. Despite thisinvasion of home building and marina construction the region still managed to support anincredible tropical ecosystem and served as the home to the somewhat less obtrusive 83 acresite of the Casa Guatemala orphanage for children and teenagers.Day eight of the tour began with the group’s assembly at the docks of the Marimonte.Because of the amount of luggage the group travelled in two waves to the orphanage, firststopping at the Catamaran Hotel to drop off their personal belongings. This somewhat lessostentatious facility served as the group’s home for the next six days. As the first boat-loadof students and teachers travelled down river towards the orphanage there was greatexcitement in anticipation of the first rendezvous with the children. It was a scene playedout with tales of great jubilation in the program’s video Guatemala Journey and in therecollections of past participants which had been shared with many of the students prior tothis year’s excursion. They were not to be disappointed.5 Kevin, the owner of the Catamaran Hotel, had lived on the Rio Dulce for several decades. He wasa retired Wing Commander in the U.S. Air Force and reportedly engaged in active duty in Vietnamduring the 1960’s. While we stayed at the Catamaran he supplied a great deal of information to thestudents and researcher about the region through various informal conversations.182As the boat pulled up to the dock a group of toddlers and young children ran to theboat, greeting the group with great excitement, leaping into the students arms. Once thefirst contingent had arrived the children were called back into classes by their teachers,who worked in a newly constructed five room preschool which had been painted recently inbold primary colours. Several of the foreign volunteers stood in the playground adjacent tothe preschool and stared in a cold manner at the members of the group who had just arrived.It was a sudden indication that our presence was neither special nor particularly welcomedfrom their perspective. A few of the students, Kaily and Nancy in particular, took note ofthis rather intimidating reception and commented on the matter as they looked around theimmediate vicinity. From that point onward it was apparent that there would be no pomp andceremony surrounding the group’s arrival and that it was expected that things would operatein a “business as usual” environment while the students were on site.When the second wave of teachers and students arrived one hour later, we weregreeted by Joseph, the assistant director of the orphanage and second in command to the“Senorita” [Angie Galdamez], as he was accustomed to calling her. The group was then takenon a tour of the grounds which were comprised of an impressive set of facilities --especially by Guatemalan standards. Far from looking like a tropical variation of anapparition from Ollver Twist, the site contained two tilapia fish ponds, a clean and wellpopulated piggery, a banana and fruit plantation complete with a nursery, a chicken pen andegg hatchery, a fully operational hydroponic greenhouse that had been donated by the Swedishgovernment, a renovated teacher’s quarters, a somewhat dilapidated medical and dentalclinic, a large and well equipped kitchen/cafeteria that sat across from the childrens’ andvolunteers’ dormitory and the new six room schoolhouse that the tn-school project inRichmond had built from this year’s donations. The layout and setting of the orphanage wasmuch different than anyone had previously imagined. Jane Lamb later referred to it looking183more like a “summer camp” (Lamb, Journal), while others reported being surprised at thepresence of “modern technology” on site (Soila, Journal).Once the introduction to the grounds had been completed, it was decided betweenJoseph and Bruce Seney that the students and teachers should have the chance to stayovernight and eat lunch at the orphanage during their stay. This was the first time that suchan invitation had been extended to any of the Richmond groups. In previous years the teamsstayed at the Catamaran and brought prepared food to the orphanage each morning from thehotel. Although the “Senorita” vehemently opposed the idea during a radio conversation thatmorning, Joseph insisted that the plans go ahead. The appropriate arrangements were madeand the first group of four students was slated to stay over the following evening. In supportof this effort, Joseph passed around photocopies of the rules and regulations for volunteersand insisted that the students become thoroughly familiar with the contents. He stressed thatthe orphanage was not run in a democratic fashion and that they should not expect specialtreatment.Later that morning the students and teachers met to discuss the tasks at hand and theassignment of jobs. For the next five days the group broke up into smaller details. Somesorting out the huge volume of clothes, books and a other donations, while others labouredaround the school house embarking on the rather gargantuan task of applying three coats ofcheap latex and enamel paint. Several times each day the students took breaks and playedwith the children. Many of students were already claiming to have “bonded” with one ormore of the orphans (Gibson, Journal; Soila, Journal; Range, Journal; Long,4). This was apattern of interaction with the children that seemed consistent with the reports of previousparticipants in the program and in the available documentation surrounding past tours.After the second day of work it became clear that certain students had a greaterpropensity to engage in hard physical labour. Several others took longer and longer breaks1 84away from the painting or sorting tasks as the days passed or creatively invented newassignments such as painting colourful murals on the panels of the school before the mainjobs had been completed. The difference between the “talkers and doers” (Gibson, int#3),was becoming more apparent to members of the group and this interpretation of events wasconfirmed by the researcher in conversations with the teachers who became increasinglyirritated at the trend by the week’s end. Tim, to his credit, was very open about the fact thathe had never painted before but made several attempts to become involved in the work as itprogressed. Holly and several others were surprised to find out that he had not brought anywork clothes with him to Guatemala (Range, Journal).The chance to stay overnight and work with the toddlers was an opportunity thatmany, but not all individuals seized upon. In this sense, there was a direct relationshipbetween those students who demonstrated their willingness to work hard at fulfilling thegroup’s duties at the orphanage and those who stayed overnight. For those who welcomed theexperience, it was an intense and eye-opening endeavour. These individuals reported thatthey were astounded by the amount of work the volunteers had to perform in the course of aday:You’ll never get ANY idea how much work goes into the orphanage and how muchwork the volunteers do...l really admire them. Mary Coil was there for NINEmonths. So by the end of the day I had harsh sunstroke and I couldn’t even hardlystand. I was so tired. I have never felt so drained in my life. Man I felt awful.(Lamb, Journal)For Kaily Soila, involvement in one of the overnight contingents was a highly informativeexperience:At 4:00 pm. our group left and behind stayed Alice, Holly, Nancy and I to get thereal experience of a volunteer, It was HORRID! First you take them to dinner,where they throw their food around, cry and always ask for “AGUA”. Then thereal task comes; you must undress them all, bath them all, dress them, put ontheir diapers and powder, brush their teeth and finally try to get them to sleep.Believe me, it is not as easy as it sounds. We finally got them to sleep, but185throughout the night they kept waking up...ln all I only got 1/2 hour sleep andended up waking up at 4:40 am. I think it is a really good idea to let the studentssleep overnight, because then they understand what it is truly like to be avolunteer. One has to be mature. (Soila, Journal)Just the day prior to this event Kaily was adamant about her desire to return to work at theorphanage in the very near future (Soila, Journal). With the realization of the hardshipsinvolved in volunteering came a new understanding of the level of personal sacrifice anddedication that would be necessary to engage in this line of work over a prolonged period oftime. Romantic notions of wanting to “help out” were no longer a sufficient basis upon whichto launch a proposed career as a mission teacher or overseas volunteer, nor were herprevious experiences with child daycare in Richmond necessarily applicable or similar tothis setting (Soila, lnt#3).Members of the overnight contingents believed that they had gained valuable insightinto the workings of the orphanage and the life of volunteers. In addition, they felt that themembers in their own group who chose not to share in this opportunity had missed thechance to get the whole picture of what transpired at the orphanage on a daily basis (Soila,lnt#3; Gibson, lnt#3). At the same time they were quite ready to admit that their plans forfuture involvement as volunteers had been altered somewhat in response to the lessonslearned during that one night of work:I noticed that all of us, we all said before we came to the orphanage that wewere all so enthusiastic. We were going, ‘Yeah, we are going to stay there.After this we are going to stay there for three months, four months,’ whatever.We were all sounding so gungho about the whole thing, you know. Only thepeople that didn’t stay...who I think totally lost out on an excellent experience,but...the people who did stay, I think we realized that we weren’t matureenough. Everyone who came out of that...the orphanage, we all decided that weweren’t mature enough to go back there right now. I couldn’t have handled twodays there. I think two days in a row would have totally burned me out.. .1think I’d go crazy. (Shaw, lnt#3)Added to this learning was recognition of the severe lack of physical comforts and186emotional support for volunteers at the orphanage. At one point in the week Joseph openlyacknowledged that in the past six months the operation had seen seventy-two volunteerscome and go, most of whom had left because they realized they could not tolerate thehardships and selfless existence demanded by the work. He further elaborated that most ofthe temporary volunteers who came to the orphanage were young university students fromEurope and North America who brought their own highly romanticized perceptions aboutworking in the “Third World”. In fact, after conversations with the volunteers the studentslearned that several of the present crew were clearing out during the upcoming weekend and,furthermore, that the remaining four workers were hoping that the Richmond studentswould stay on to assist them because this exodus would leave them extremely short staffed.There was no positive response to this plea from anyone within the group. In the monthsprior to the trip many of the students had proudly disclosed their intention to pursue workas volunteers overseas. Now, many of them were beginning to reassess their dedication tothis ambition as the reality of the conditions of volunteer work became clearer. Timexpressed his own concern about what the work at the orphanage implied for his future planswhich echoed the statements by members of the overnight contingents:Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to stay overnight. Not now. I don’tthink I am mature enough to do something like that right now. Mature, but Ijust don’t think I am ready to go for that six month period, but I really lookforward to that time after my first degree to go and really want to do thatwherever. I have met a lot of people who have done that and it has changedthem for the better as far as I am concerned. (Long, lnt#3)The continuity of this theme of “maturing” in their dialogue seemed to indicate that thestudents’ shared conversations were collectively shaping their emerging perceptions of theexperience. For some of the students it would take several weeks back home for theirindividual verdicts on future involvement as volunteers to be clearly articulated. In anyevent, the reality of the situation for volunteers at the orphanage blunted the more187exuberant edge of such ambitions for several students; while others remained steadfast intheir conviction to pursue this goal despite what they had seen (Lamb, Journal; Gibson,Journal).After several days of observing conditions at the orphanage, many of the studentsbegan to express an appreciation for the quality of life that was provided for the children(Long, lnt#3; Shaw, lnt#3). In turn, these perceptions were used to draw out largergeneralizations about the relative implications of this situation, not only for other childrenin Guatemala (Range, lnt#4), but also for the lives of their contemporaries in NorthAmerica (Soila, Journal). Jane Lamb’s comments exemplified a popular sentiment in thisregard:I am so impressed with the orphanage too. In a way I think these kids have abetter life than half of America does. I mean they don’t but they are so free.The kids are so free and that is good. They are so independent, but just becauseof their lifestyle, they are totally cooperative. All the orphanage is theirfamily, you know. It is good in some ways like that they are so healthy interms of like protein and stuff. Like I have been thinking that the way they arefed and stuff they are fed so well. They are probably healthier than any kid inAmerica I’d say. Like I think so. They don’t eat junk food and stuff except forwhen we come. They are so tough and they are so strong and I am so impressedwith the discipline and stuff...Like I didn’t think it would be like this at all.(Lamb, lnt#3)This perception was most often balanced by an appreciation that the orphans lacked theconsistency of role models and parents in their lives and also did without many materialcomforts that the students took for granted (Soila, lnt#3). Still, their interpretation thatthese children were “fortunate” despite such shortcomings was all the more proof that theorphanage was safe and happy home.To their reflections on the relative quality of life at the orphanage was added theconstant supply of stories provided by Joseph and other volunteers concerning the personalbackground of these children. The childrens’ case histories included everything from glue188sniffers who had been plucked off the streets of Guatemala City, to a little boy who was takenfrom his parents when it was discovered that he had been burned repeatedly with hot wax andboiling water. Several of the children were removed from their parents because of sexualand physical abuse. Others were simply brought to the docks of the orphanage and abandonedby their parents. After a while it was apparent that every one of the seventy or so orphanshad his or her own personal history and all of their stories helped to construct images ofwhat other childrens’ lives could be like outside of Casa Guatemala. It was not surprisingwhen the students began to see the children before them as the “lucky ones” in this part ofthe world (Soila, lnt#3).The location of the orphanage on the Rio Dulce also provided a reference pointthrough which they developed various comparisons about class structure and wealth inGuatemalan society. This setting included the presence of a large number of tourists whosailed their yachts in the waters around the region. Linda and Kaily appropriately identifiedJoseph and his wife as part of this larger scene of affluence. Despite the fact that he wasacting as the head volunteer on site, these students detected some very revealing aspectssurrounding their interaction with the children and in their daily routine at the orphanagewhich demonstrated the distance which Joseph and his wife placed between themselves andthe children:I mean it was good that he was working there because he was helping them, butI feel he was doing it because he felt guilty. You could tell because when hewalked through the orphanage he just walked through and if the kid was luckyhe patted his head or something. He sort of talked to them like they had no livesahead of them. He talked like they had no hope. The other thing was just that helives on a yacht on the river and then he comes back to the orphanage and triesto get back into that frame of mind at the orphanage while he can go back to theyacht and do whatever. That was kind of odd. (Shaw, lnt#3)Even his wife, she didn’t even know the kids names. I don’t know, it seemed likeshe didn’t even know anything about the orphanage. When we were there itseemed that she talked to the kitchen staff that day, but that was the first time189she had talked to them...l remember I was like, ‘How long have these people beenhere,’ and it was a long time and I am like, ‘Oh, she is just like asking about thistoday?’ (Soila, lnt#3)Linda’s and Kaily’s observations of these two individuals and their apparent detachment fromthe situation was but one representation of the nature of interaction between the wealthy andimpoverished individuals in this region. Located directly across the bay from the orphanagewas the current President’s residence on the Rio Dulce. The proximity of this and otherstately cottages on the river was constantly being juxtaposed with the living conditions at theorphanage. Such extreme wealth also contrasted sharply with the Ketchi communities thatlined the banks of the river. This setting brought forth numerous interpretations andreflections from the students as they shuttled between the Catamaran Hotel and orphanageeach day. Tying together his experience with the Camino Real and the Rio Dulce, Tim madethis observation:An example of the same thing was the orphanage on the one side of the river andthe President’s house being on the other. It was such a dichotomy. Like hereyou have this orphanage of hundreds of kids, many of them who have been abandoned and many of them who have been abandoned because the government hasshot their families or killed their families, and across the river you see thissplendor of wealth and this huge home were the President lives. It was thesame thing with the Camino Real. It bothered me. It bothered me to realize thatthere was such an unequal distribution of resources and of wealth in that countryand that is one of the reasons why they are suffering in that country so much.(Long, Int#3)At the Catamaran Hotel one evening, Jane Lamb recalled her own feelings about this situationthrough the occasion where she was introduced to a wealthy Guatemalan family at theMarimonte Hotel who were building their own summer home on the river:Jane: It is rich. The Rio Dulce is a totally rich river. And then I think, ‘Why isthe orphanage there? Why is the President’s little summer cottage over here?’...Like the people who were staying in the hotel before this one, they werebuilding their weekend house on this river but down the river there is anorphanage. Like even in this area there is total extreme differences, and peopleknow the orphanage is there too. I would talk to people about it and they wouldsay, ‘Oh yeah that. That is so nice of you,’ but then they would be building their190nice house on the river.J.S.: What does that tell you?Jane: That people who are rich here just want to get richer and they don’treally care. They are just totally blind and ignorant towards the poor here.Because, if you live in a country and it is your country you can’t not see it.J.S.: Do you think they see it?Jane: They see it but it doesn’t hit them I don’t think. Because, if you’re from arich family and you have only had that and you have been taught not to see it andyou have been taught to say, ‘Oh it is not our problem,’ it is not going to be yourproblem. (Lamb, lnt#3)For many of the students the Rio Dulce represented a microcosm of the larger pictureof life and politics in Guatemalan society which they had witnessed over the last two weeks.They had a growing sense of disdain for the rich who seemed to flaunt their power and wealthin the face of the abject poverty which surrounded them (Gibson, lnt#4). At the same timeit made them more acutely aware of how the tourist industry played into the social matrixwhich supported and structured this reality (Long, lnt#3; Gibson, lnt#4). This led to morequestions about their own role in this tourist setting and whether their program could everbe distinguished from this open display of wealth (Soila, lnt#3).For several of the students, the question of their role at the orphanage came up in theform of conversations with the volunteers on site. In one instance a volunteer did nothesitate to suggest that their money would have been better spent if they had simply stayedin Richmond and contributed the money for the tour directly to Casa Guatemala (Gibson,lnt#3). This point of view was countered with the rationale that the trip was a uniqueeducational experience with lessons that they could not have received through any othermeans. While this volunteer expressed outright denigration of the group’s contributionmany of the students were raising their own questions about their role in Guatemala.At this point the students were surprised to learn of the limited scope of their191program’s financial impact on the orphanage and, furthermore, that their presence on sitewas generally perceived as more of a nuisance tha