Why We Still Need to Learn about Service (and how JUMP! is Continuing to Learn!)
JUMP! have been supporting international schools to develop and deliver their service learning programs for a number years, and yet still for many of us it is an area in which there are more questions than answers. How can we ensure that an experience is both meaningful for our students and for the communities we aim to ‘serve’? How do we create a project that is possible for our students to participate in and isn’t surface-level or tokenistic? How do we introduce students to the complexity and nuances of the issue without disempowering them?
These are frequently-discussed issues at JUMP!, and unfortunately not ones that lend themselves to easy tick-box answers. During my time as a JUMP! facilitator I have participated in a number of debates with partners, teachers, and colleagues about how to improve the impact of service learning on both the students and ‘beneficiaries’. A common theme has been that we need to emphasize the learning part of service learning, both so students can be effective and responsive in how they contribute, but more importantly, so they can continue to apply what they have learned to action they take in the future. JUMP! has found that the best service programs don’t shy away from addressing the complexities of service, but actively weave in ways of exploring the issues and asking the big ‘no-right-answer’ questions, in order to enhance student learning.
Keep reading on the JUMP! Foundation website!
February 9, 2014
by Eleanor Paton
Overseas volunteering has had its fair share of bad press. Tales of orphanage tourism in particular make for depressing reading. Report after report touches on similar practices; children kept in poverty so that volunteers continue to donate, orphanages that ignore volunteers’ concerns about the children’s wellbeing and an unhealthy process of attachment between the volunteers and children. *
Even where orphanages aren’t involved there is many a pitfall for the well -meaning volunteer. Yes, of course, helping to build a hospital or school in a developing country seems like a nice idea. But in practice there is little logic to shipping in unskilled Westerners to do local jobs, probably poorly.
So what then, if you are thinking of volunteering, if you do want to ‘do good’? Google it, and wonder at the plethora of ways you may accidentally join a process of exploitation. Or, indeed, find your own intentions and finances exploited. Whilst these cautions are both worthy and necessary, we also have to find ways of encouraging people to help out. For as many warnings as we provide, the development community must also show prospective volunteers how they can genuinely contribute.
Continue reading on the Volunteer in Cambodia blog!
Claire Bennett reflects on the ethics of students volunteering abroad – what steps can young people take to ensure they find a responsible placement with positive outcomes?
Claire has worked in global education for the last 10 years. She worked on the Global Youth Action project in collaboration with Think Global and worked with teachers to embed a global dimension to the classroom. Now living in Asia, she is working with advocacy group Learning Service.
For many teachers, global citizenship education is not something we see as ending at the walls of the classroom. Whilst it is important for students to intellectually explore the issues facing our interdependent world, and reflect on connections between themselves and others across the globe, the aim of this kind of learning is that awareness translates into action. That is, learning outcomes can be measured in changing behaviour in everyday life – such as helping out the new student in the classroom or turning down the heating at home – or the larger actions it inspires – such as a student-led campaign or service projects.
Many schools encourage students to become active in their communities, some even weaving local volunteering into their curriculum. A growing way for young people who are passionate about changing the world to engage in global citizenship education is for them to take this volunteering further afield, to go abroad and offer direct ‘help’ in addressing global issues such as poverty. Your school might already have, or be considering, a partnership with a volunteer travel company offering trips for school groups.
Continue reading on Global Dimension!
Learning Service’s videos and educational resources were designed to help spark conversations around responsible international volunteering, and we’re delighted that a lot of other groups have been reaching out to us that are doing the same thing!
If you are interested in a much more thorough look at the questions surrounding international service, plus have a chance to delve into some development discussions with a cohort of other classmates, check out the EdGE (Education through Global Engagement) online course. They have offered all Learning Service supporters and video contest entrants and friends a $25 discount on their course.
If you want to join this 12-week course or buy it for someone you know who is considering volunteering abroad, just enter LS2014 at the checkout.
Ten years on from volunteering with Development in Action Mandarin Bennet is still passionate about ensuring that international volunteering has a lasting impact and ethical underpinning. Here writes about what she has learnt (and continues to learn) since her time with DiA.
I became the UK coordinator for Development in Action nearly a decade ago. What drew me to DiA was that its philosophy on volunteering and development was exactly in line with what I had learned experientially after a year volunteering in Nepal.
I volunteered with a rural development organization straight after I graduated from university. Every time I thought I could offer a solution or way of contributing, I would realize that it wasn’t so simple. In fact, the more I looked into the root causes of the problems faced in Nepal, the more I discovered how closely interlinked they were with issues back in the UK. I remember thinking that whatever small contribution my presence could offer to a remote Nepali community, I would be able to have a more powerful impact on the same issues as an activist and educator in my own country.
Continue reading on the Development in Action blog!