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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Kujiunga : host community perspectives on hosting young international volunteers in Eldoret, Kenya Whiteman, Matthew Peter Hilliard

Abstract

Often, international engagement efforts are set in vulnerable communities where there is great potential to do good, but a significant potential to do harm, and there has been a call for higher attention to the many effects of volunteer presence and efforts when engaging with such communities. Recent attempts have been made to have honest discussions about the ethical implications for service abroad, but rarely are these discussions and resulting policy decisions directly informed by the nuanced, contextual perspectives of host communities themselves. When they do, often the conception of “community” does not adequately represent the diversity of stakeholders that form the community in question. This mixed methodological work explores how various stakeholders in one such community in Eldoret, Kenya respond to the question of what it is like to host young international volunteers. These perspectives were gathered over a three month period through interviews and a focus group. Findings 1) A need exists for a broader conception of “host”; 2) The voices of hosts and host communities are underrepresented throughout the literature and the volunteering process; 3) Current language used to describe the role of volunteers is the product of inequitable historical relationships, has adverse effects on process and outcomes, and needs to be adjusted; 4) Host fatigue is a significant factor in adversely affecting outcomes of volunteer placements; 5) Resistance and dissent in volunteer encounters present differently than volunteers might expect; in Kenya, they often present as withdrawal, silence, slowness to respond, bearing the hardship, and much less commonly as direct confrontation, and; 6) Volunteer activity must be factored into what constitutes the social determinants of health of a host community when we try to learn about that community and the issues it faces. Suggestions are made for improving outcomes for volunteers, hosts, and sending organizations.

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