Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 4, No 1 (2014)

 Critical Global Citizenship and International Service Learning: A Case Study of the Intensification Effect

Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education
Volume 4 Number 1 2014
journals.sfu.ca/jgcee

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Critical Global Citizenship and International Service Learning: A Case Study of the Intensification Effect


Marianne A. Larsen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
University of Western Ontario

Keywords: international service learning; critical global citizenship

ABSTRACT: This article is based on a case study analyzing the impact of a long-term international service learning (ISL) internship on eight university students. Specifically, the study set out to understand how ISL can contribute to developing university students as critically engaged global citizens. A conceptual framework of Critical Global Citizenship (CGC), developed by the author, provides the basis for the study and analysis of the data. There are two inter-related components of the conceptual framework used to understand critical global citizenship: Awareness/Analysis and Action/Engagement. Awareness/Analysis includes four dimensions: Awareness of Difference, the Self, Global Issues and Responsibility. Action/Engagement includes three dimensions: Self-, Civic and Social Justice Action. The study aimed to understand what kinds of global citizens are constructed through ISL, and some of the variables (e.g., gender, background experience) that have an impact on these processes. There were three data sources: online intern blogs, a pre- and post-survey, and an interview following their internship. Data analysis demonstrates that while there is evidence that students shifted towards becoming global citizens, in most cases this shift did not incorporate critically engaged forms of global citizenship, especially those related to social justice action. This international experience operated in ways to reinforce global citizenship dispositions, attitudes, and actions that had already been previously formed in these students. This points to the importance of considering the intensification effect and complexities associated with the development of students as global citizens through long-term international, service experiences.


Introduction

Global citizenship has increasingly become a goal of universities interested in expanding students’ understandings of what it means to be a citizen in a globalized world. However, what this multi-dimensional construct means exactly has been the subject of much debate and discussion in the research literature on this topic (Dower & Williams, 2002; Tanner, 2007). Moreover, we know even less about how individuals become global citizens. Some suggest that studying abroad and international service learning, two initiatives that many higher education institutions have been embracing, may be vehicles for promoting global citizenship (Bamber & Hankin, 2011; Bringle & Hatcher, 2011; Brown, 2006; Hartman, 2008; Hunter, White & Godbey, 2006; Lewin, 2009; Plater, Jones, Bringle & Clayton, 2009). As proponents of international service learning (ISL), Bringle and Hatcher (2011) assert, “ISL holds the potential and may be a pedagogy that is best suited to prepare college graduates to be active global citizens in the 21st century” (p. 3). Others, however, are much more critical about whether or not such international experiences can create global citizens, pointing out the egoistic motivations for engaging in study- and service-abroad programs, as well as the potential of these initiatives to perpetuate binaries of developed/underdeveloped, rich/poor, and democratic/undemocratic, and reproduce neo-colonial power relations under the veneer of helping and global/cross-cultural learning (Heron, 2007; Tiessen, 2008, 2012; Zemach-Bersin, 2007).

One of the problems is that there is limited empirical evidence of the transformation of students into global citizens through experiences such as ISL and studying abroad (Lewin, 2009; Moley et al., 2002; Tarrant, 2010). Tonkin (2011) asks, “How can research inform us about changes, as a result of ISL, in students’ knowledge, values, and behaviour that encompass a global perspective?” (p. 207) Furthermore, Bringle and Hatcher (2011) also call for studies to evaluate their hypotheses that ISL experiences will result in greater improvement in intercultural skills, transformation of students’ lives and careers, deeper understandings of global issues and more lifelong interest in global issues compared with community/local service learning.

The aim of the study was to understand how, if at all, individuals become critical global citizens through an ISL experience. Specifically, this was a case study of a long-term (between two and six months) ISL internship in East Africa in which eight Canadian university students participated. In order to understand the processes through which students become (or do not become) critical global citizens, a conceptual framework was developed to carry out the study and analyze the data collected. Specifically, the study set out to understand how ISL can contribute to developing university students as critically engaged global citizens. In this article I describe the research methodology, provide an outline of each of the dimensions of the Critical Global Citizenship (CGC) conceptual framework that I have developed for this study, and then present my findings. The discussion section of this article illustrates the complexities in trying to understand processes related to the development of global citizens, the contradictions that develop, and the importance of attending to the intensification effect of international experiences like service learning on global citizenship.

Methodology

This was a case study of a long-term ISL internship at a Canadian university. Case study is defined by Stake (1988) as “a study of a bounded system, emphasizing the unity and wholeness of that system, but confining the attention to those aspects that are relevant to the research problem at the time” (p. 258). The main advantage of case-study research that is relevant here is its attention to the subtlety, complexity and uniqueness of the case that may be otherwise lost in large-scale research (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011, pp. 292-293). Specifically, this is what is known as an instrumental case study (Stake, 2005) in that the case is examined to give insight into existing conceptual frameworks about global citizenship. Moreover, the case is used to facilitate our understanding of the ways that students become global citizens through international, internship experiences.

Participants

Case-study research focuses on individual actors or groups of actors and attempts to understand their perception of events (Cohen et al., 2011). The study involved eight university students who received course credit for participating in long-term service-learning internships in East Africa in 2012 and 2013. Four students had placements in Tanzania, three in Kenya and two in Rwanda. There were two males and seven females, and they ranged in age from 21 to 47, with the majority being in their 20s. All eight defined themselves as being of European/white background. Three were pursuing graduate degrees and the other three undergraduate degrees across a variety of faculties, including education, business, social sciences (e.g., anthropology, history), health and medicine.

The primary reasons for choosing this particular cohort to study is that it provided the researcher with an opportunity to learn about the multiplicity of ISL students’ experiences. The diversity of students in terms of their ages, previous international experiences, course of study, etc. is viewed as a strength of the study in providing an “opportunity to learn” (Stake, 2005, p. 452) about the different ways that global citizens are constructed through international internships. Finally, all of the students in the cohort agreed to participate in the study, and I had the support of the project director, as well as the university ethics board to carry out the study.

Moreover, there were similarities that bound these students together into one cohort. They all participated in service-learning internships as a part of the project North Goes South (NGS), which was established in 2003 by a Canadian university in partnership with a local Tanzanian women’s rights organization, to set up community-based micro-enterprise kitchens in East Africa1. Today, the project involves many individuals in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, including the women who work in the kitchens, lab technicians and those who work at the partner organization, the East African Women’s Network (EAWN). Thus far, more than 70 students from across every faculty in the university have participated in NGS internships, which include teaching the women working in the kitchens about the procedures for making yogurt, (e.g., boiling milk, hygiene, and quality control); basic business skills, including accounting, customer relations, packaging, and marketing; and working with EAWN staff to help with strategic planning initiatives, time management, finances, and the distribution of promotional materials.

Data Sources

Case-study research generally relies on different data sources to enhance the validity of the study (Cohen et al., 2011; Stake, 2005). For this study, I drew upon three data sources: surveys, structured interviews, and online student blogs. I conducted pre- and post-internship surveys and post-internship interviews with all participants. (See Appendices 1 and 2 for examples of data instruments used in the study). The survey and interview questions were established according to the CGC conceptual framework described below. The pre-survey, which took approximately 20 minutes to complete, was administered to the interns shortly before their departure to East Africa. The surveys included five sections with questions related to the core components of the CGC framework that address the different dimensions of critical global citizenship. For example, with respect to global awareness, participants were asked to use a Likert scale to rank the degree to which they agreed with the statements like “Global injustices are caused by unfair trading rules” and “I have background knowledge about the history of eastern Africa.” Similarly, to understand the students’ sense of global responsibility, they were asked to rank the degree to which they agreed with statements such as “Helping people living in poverty is the responsibility of the government” and “Some of the world’s problems are just too big to solve.”

To gauge students’ involvement in social/civic actions, they were asked to indicate, on a chart, the approximate number of times over the past six months they had engaged in activities such as volunteering at a charity, bought a fair-trade product, and attended a protest march. In addition to these close-ended and scalar response questions, the pre-departure survey included three short-answer questions for students to discuss their expectations for the internship, and challenges/barriers they thought they might face. The survey also included questions about the internship (e.g., location, dates) and the student’s personal background.

The post-internship survey contained the same questions as the pre-survey about global and self-awareness, awareness of global responsibility, and social/civic action. These were compared with their answers on the pre-survey to determine any changes in relation to their development as global citizens based on their ISL experiences. Students were also asked to participate in a post-internship interview, which ranged in length from 27 to 47 minutes. (See Appendix 3.) Using a digital recording device, the interview consisted of questions about the students’ experiences during the internship and their perceptions about the impact of the internship. The interview allowed for more detailed responses than the surveys and enabled participants to demonstrate their deeper, more analytical understanding of global issues related to difference, privilege, and responsibility. For example, in the interview, students were asked to reflect upon poverty, what it meant to them, how it was lived/experienced in the setting where they were based, if it was different from poverty in Canada, and what they thought were some solutions to ending poverty.

Triangulation occurred through the analysis and cross-verification of the three different data sources: surveys, interviews, and blogs2. In this respect, triangulation of the data was deployed to cross-check data from “multiple sources to search for regularities in the research data” (O’Donoghue & Punch, 2003, p. 78), thereby enhancing the concurrent validity of the study (Cohen et al., 2011). Given the nature of the qualitative data and size of the sample, analysis was carried out by hand, rather than using a statistical program. The researcher used personal data to ascertain relationships between variables related to background information (e.g., gender, age) and the impact of the internship on the participants. An iterative process of categorical analysis took place to systematically organize the data into groupings that were similar based on the dimensions of the CGC conceptual framework, which I outline next.

Conceptual Framework: Critical Global Citizenship

The conceptual framework that informed this research, Critical Global Citizenship, is comprised of two core components: Awareness/Analysis and Engagement/Action. CGC necessitates an ongoing, dialectical relationship between these two components. The first component, Awareness/Analysis, includes four dimensions: critical awareness and analysis of Difference; the Self; the Global; and Responsibility. (See Figure 1.) These dimensions are overlapping, connected and inter-related with one another. Central to this component is not only awareness, but also the close, careful and considered analysis of each phenomenon, its features or characteristics and relations between them, and other dimensions associated with CGC.

Critical Global Citizenship: Awareness/Analysis Component

Difference Awareness involves recognition and respect for the diversity of ideas, values, beliefs and practices in the world. A critical global citizen is not only aware of the cultural diversity that constitutes the world, but of “other” knowledges, including cultural values, beliefs and practices, that may contradict one’s own. Moreover, a critical global citizen understands that European/white culture has been privileged over other cultures as a result of colonization processes, which depended on European colonizers creating in their minds an image of the colonized as the “Other” (i.e., different from themselves) in order to form their own self-identity. Said (1978) refers to this process as “othering,” which involves the creation of a set of binary ideas (civilized/uncivilized, advanced/primitive) to justify notions of the West/European as superior, global and universal, and the East/“other” as lesser or inferior. A critical global citizen can analyze the historical roots of contemporary, prejudiced and racist views about difference. At the same time, there is an awareness of the possibilities of recognizing and encountering difference, without automatically creating a hierarchical relationship between the privileged culture and the marginalized other.

The second dimension is Self-Awareness, which means an awareness of one’s own identity and an understanding that identities are complex, intermingled, shifting, fluid and capable of change. Self-Awareness also involves acknowledging that one’s view of the world is limited, not universally shared or necessarily right, and that others have views of the world that may be profoundly different from one’s own. As Andreotti (2005) explains, every knowledge deserves respect, and every knowledge, including one’s own, is partial and incomplete. In this way, Critical Self-Awareness involves awareness that one’s knowledge of the world is continually shaped within particular contexts, by conscious opinions and ideas, as well as hidden influences, values and assumptions that often escape conscious detection. Moreover, self-awareness involves the capacity for critical reflexivity about one’s own positionality, power and privileges, understood as “unearned advantages” (Johnson, 2005), particularly as they relate to gender, social class and race. It means being able to use this knowledge about one’s view of the world and privileges within it to interact, communicate and work effectively outside of one’s own comfort zones.

Global Awareness, the next dimension, involves recognition of the state of the planet, including existing environmental, political, social and economic interdependencies and conditions. This means understanding contemporary leading issues that are played out in local settings throughout the world, including poverty, homelessness, HIV/AIDs, lack of access to clean air and water, housing, food, and clothing, which are related to inequalities based on gender, race/ethnicity, social class, and other forms of difference. Critical global awareness also includes awareness of ecological issues such as global warming and deforestation. Critical global analysis means understanding the political-economic and socio-cultural roots of inequalities in power/wealth globally and locally, including contemporary effects of neoliberal policies and longstanding legacies of imperialism (Merryfield, 2009). Infused throughout critical global awareness/analysis is a concern for justice, both social and ecological.

Responsibility Awareness first necessitates an understanding that individuals, organizations, institutions and nations have choices about how to respond to existing inequities and injustices. Responsibility is characterized by caring, concern to others, society and the environment. This is about responsibility towards the other (or learning with the “other”) to understand and change the world. The critically responsible person constructs an ethic of social service to address local and global inequities (Noddings, 2005; Westheimer & Kahne, 2004). Moreover, a CGC framework challenges views that the West/white Europeans are better, more superior and have a responsibility to “help” the rest, who are viewed as victims. Rather, we need to see that we are all a part of the problem, as well as a part of the solution(s). In such a way, awareness of responsibility is a necessary precursor to responding/action. Without an ability to imagine that things can be otherwise and a corresponding awareness of one’s responsibility to address injustices, one cannot act.

The second component of CGC, Engagement/Action, is constituted by three related dimensions: Self-Action, Civic Action, and Social Justice Action. (See Figure 2.) Once one becomes aware of difference, global issues, as well as one’s identity, positionality, privilege and responsibilities, a critical global citizen can respond to injustices and inequities that exist in the world today. Processes associated with Engagement/Action necessitate the mobilization of one’s own privilege and power to make a difference in the lives of those who are not as privileged as oneself.

CCritical Global Citizenship: Engagement/Action Component

This first involves Self-Action, individual actions that one makes in their day-to-day life with respect to one’s self and one’s daily life. Specifically, the CGC framework is concerned with what we might call the mundane and ordinary ways in which individuals transform themselves into global citizens. These can be simple, ordinary actions such as recycling, buying fair-trade products, engaging in positive interactions with others, demonstrating respect and care for themselves and others, and the development and maintenance of relationships with those who may have previously been viewed as the “Other.”

The second dimension of Engagement/Action is Civic Action, which refers to publicly responding to cultural, self, and global awareness by participating in the civic affairs and in the social life of one’s community at local, state, and national levels. Westheimer and Kahne (2004) refer to the participatory citizen, who actively participates in established systems and community structures in order to solve social problems and improve society. Social Justice Action refers to broader social, structural transformations of power relations between and amongst individuals, groups and institutions. The goal here is changing belief systems, core and tightly held values and assumptions with the aim to transforming institutions and other power structures. This is what Westheimer and Kahne (2004) refer to as the justice-oriented citizen who questions and works to change established systems and structures, which have reproduced patterns of injustice over time. Furthermore, what is crucial to these processes is the need to listen to what Spivak (1988) calls the subaltern, “patiently and carefully, so that we, as intellectuals committed to education, can devise an intuition of the public sphere in subalternity” (p. 232). Through this space of subalternity, the global citizen removes him/herself from the “centre” of the Us-Them binary of social relations noted above and constructs a new relationship based on mutuality, openness, and dialogue rather than domination and oppression.

Results: Awareness/Analysis

Difference Awareness. A critical global citizen is aware and respectful of the diversity of ideas, values, beliefs and practices that constitute our world and understands how difference is constructed. Participants were asked on their pre-survey what their expectations were for the internship3. Learning about others was one of the main expectations for all of the interns prior to departure. Each of the participants indicated that they wanted to “better understand those who are different from myself.” This aligns with their short-answer responses, in which seven of them had expectations related to the cross-cultural nature of the internship and included gaining a better understanding of the overall contexts of East African cultures, including local languages, with the aim of enhancing dialogue, cultural awareness and sensitivity. For example, Vera stated that she hoped through the internship she would become more culturally aware.

Learning about East African cultures and society appeared to be one of the aspects of the internship that students enjoyed the most and found the most enriching. However, trying to tease out the details about students’ perceptions of difference is more complex. Comparing participants’ pre- and post-internship survey responses would indicate that there was a slight shift amongst a handful of students (two to three) who considered Canadians and East Africans more similar than different. Some of the interview material attests to this as well. For instance, while students commented upon the poverty and corruption they witnessed during their internships, some noted that poverty and corruption also exists in Canada. And Barry said that it was interesting to see how stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is almost the same in Canada as it was in Kenya.

Heidi’s observations about the women she met in Kenya speak to this idea of similar experiences across global boundaries:

I think I really connected with the women of the school just because I identify with being a young female.… They had kids and they were trying to work and be single moms and things like that. I think I just mostly learned what it is to be a woman in another part of the world, and it was really neat to talk to them because they all have different experiences. (interview, October 12, 2012).

What we see in this quote is an effort to understand both our shared humanity and the differences that constitute us. Above all, it would seem that the internship shaped and in some cases, reinforced students’ understanding of difference within and across the East African countries in which they were based. Edna, having been to Tanzania previously, thought that Rwanda would be quite similar. The internship taught her that this was not the case, as she became much more sensitive to specific historical issues like the genocide that had had profound effects upon the people of Rwanda. Sam, who was also based in Rwanda, came to see that it is a unique country, very different from other African countries, because of its particular past. And a number of other students spoke about how they came away from their internships with a better understanding of different cultures.

Indeed, through their internships, the students came to see the many differences within the countries in which they were based and across East African countries. In their interviews, students commented upon rural-urban differences and other geographical differences; social class, cultural, ethnic/tribal, religious, and gender differences. In their interviews and blogs, a number of the students referred to their learning about cultural, religious and ethnic/tribal differences within the countries in which they were based. A few explained the influences of different religious groups on East African culture. In some cases, their comments displayed a refined understanding of religious influences. Barry, for instance, noted the heavy Islamic influence along the coast in Kenya and Christian influences in other, more rural areas. Lara, who had been to Tanzania before, was surprised by the religious tensions between Christians and Muslims there during her internship. Tina and Edna both pointed out the Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern influences in Tanzania.

With respect to rural-urban differences, students used words such as “developed,” “Americanized,” “international” and “cosmopolitan” to describe major cities such as Kigali, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Vera, who was based in Rwanda, was struck by how cosmopolitan Kigali was, observing that:

[T]he central city is quite striking. The roads are very clean and quite nice. There’s big, North American style.… There’s shopping centres, there’s a couple of large grocery stores. Very Americanized in that sense. It’s quite a striking thing to be in this cosmopolitan city centre. It is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in East Africa. (interview, October 24, 2012)

Difference Awareness also involves recognizing and encountering difference, without creating distance by creating a hierarchical relationship between the privileged self and the marginalized “other.” There is some evidence of this in the data. In her blog, Heidi wrote about a church service she attended in Kenya:

We got the opportunity to go to his church this morning, which is Evangelical, and witness … a service they call ‘deliverance.’ This was so different than a church service in Canada … and included people screaming and falling to the floor as they were being prayed for or healed! It was a little alarming and much different than I’m used to, but also great to experience the faith of another culture. Everyone there was so passionate about what they were doing! (personal communication, May 27, 2012)

Heidi also noted in her blog that she had not been to an Evangelical Church in Canada, alluding to the fact that what she witnessed in Kenya may not be so different from practices within Evangelical churches in Canada.

Difference Awareness also involves understanding of the historical roots, especially colonization, of racist attitudes towards difference and the processes of “othering” that privilege Western/white culture. Three of the interns (Lara, Rhonda, Sam) stand out amongst the others in terms of their deep and critical understanding of the historical, socio-political reasons for contemporary inequalities between the Global North and South. Lara understood the impact of popular media in influencing our attitudes towards Africa, as well as the role of global institutions and organizations in perpetuating global inequalities:

I’m a little more interested in historically what the connection is between Europe and North America. We never write about history in our popular press; they write about the spectre of roads and what the European crisis means for Africa … because Africa is affected by everything that Europe and North America does whether it’s an international organization, a bank, the UN. (interview, October 12, 2012)

Sam also understood the role of international financial institutions, as well as the dysfunctional roles of governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in development work. All four made reference to the importance of understanding the history of colonization in order to comprehend contemporary African realities. There was, however, little awareness of the structural, systemic nature of othering processes amongst the other interns, a point I take up later.

Self-Awareness includes an awareness of one’s own identity and acknowledgement that identities are complex, fluid and capable of change. Participants in this study were asked to complete a values exercise on both the pre and post-internship surveys (see Appendices 1 and 2). The exercise involved reading through a list of values (e.g., broadminded, independent, carefree, self-respect) and indicating on a Likert scale (from “Not that Important” to “Absolutely Essential”) how important that value was to them. Contrasting the results shows that there was a shift in values for all of the students demonstrating that one’s values can and do change over time. This data does not, however, tell us whether or not students were consciously aware that their own identity had shifted. To understand the deeper processes of critical self-awareness about the students’ positionality in relation to race, gender and class relations of power and how it changed through the internship, we need to turn to the interview data.

Some of the students brought to the internship experience prior understanding and awareness of their racial identities. However, being a minority in a predominantly black environment made them all much more aware of their racial identity and the privileges associated with being white. All of the participants, in their interviews, commented on how they were called “mzungo” (white person) by local people. Being judged by the colour of their skin was something the majority of the interns had had little experience with before. Edna explained how she “stood out like crazy” as a white person and expressed a sense of relief when a taxi driver chose not to use the term “because he said that we are all the same and that it’s wrong to make the distinction” (interview, March 29, 2013).

On the pre-survey, half of the students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I am privileged,” compared with all students strongly agreeing with that statement after their internships. However, the interview data provides a more nuanced portrayal of how students understood this notion of privilege. Lara stands out amongst all of the interns for her critical and complex understanding of how difference and privilege operates across global settings:

I am middle-class, educated. All kinds of privileges I’m very conscious of having there. Most of the people that I worked with are really intelligent, great, but are limited because they don’t have privileges that are directly associated to poverty, the level of wages that they can earn. So the women who are university-trained that work in community organizations, you know, there’s not a lot of difference between the two of us in our education, but there’s a huge difference between us because of the wealth that we have, and what I’m able to do just by being there is just a huge affirmation of the privilege that I have. (interview, October 12, 2012)

Some students expressed their frustration over assumptions (held by “locals”) that because the students were white, they were more privileged. This led to many instances of being asked for money or other resources that they did not feel that they had to give. Others, however, accepted that they were going to be asked for money or have to pay extra for services because they were from Canada and recognized the privileges that came with being white. As Lara explained: “We’re not conscious enough of what white people, what whiteness means there” (interview, October 12, 2012). And many of the students, when asked on the post-survey, how the internship made them feel differently about their life, commented on being much more aware of their privileges, or as Barry put it: “How lucky I am to have what I have, to be where I am because not everybody gets that kind of opportunity” (interview, October 12, 2012). Edna’s reflections on the changes that she experienced are worth quoting at length here:

I definitely feel more privileged for certain things and definitely feel like I don't need a lot of things that maybe I thought I did before. Sometimes my boyfriend will say things like ‘I want this’ and I'm like ‘you don’t need that. I know you can have it but you don’t need it.’ I think that kind of helps just because … I lived very basic for eight months and it was just fine. It’s nice to treat yourself once in a while, but you can actually live with very little. You don’t need a lot. (interview, March 29, 2013)

Edna’s words also address another related issue that a couple of the students noted in their interviews: Frustrations with other Canadians who were unaware of their own privileges and took things in their lives for granted.

The interns all left feeling both fortunate for the experiences they had had in East Africa, and the provision of homes, health care and other social amenities that were available to them in Canada. Indeed, students were unanimous in seeing how the internship experience had changed them. All of the students viewed the internship experience as transformational, although what that meant was very different for each of them. Personal transformation included greater awareness of and changes in terms of their own values and beliefs (e.g., consumerism, community), and actions, which are discussed in further detail below.

Self-Awareness also means understanding that one’s own perspectives and attitudes are neither necessarily shared, nor necessarily right. On the pre-survey and post-surveys, students were asked to record the extent to which they agreed with the following statements:

  • I consider different perspectives when evaluating global problems.
  • I take into account different perspectives before drawing conclusions about the world around me.
  • I am accepting of other people with different religious and spiritual traditions.

All eight students agreed or strongly agreed both statements before and after the internship. There was a slight shift towards strong agreement on the post-internship survey. The qualitative data provide a more complex picture of whether or not students developed perspective consciousness. For instance, in her blog Tina wrote:

Being in a new culture is an enriching experience. It’s more than the absorption of new sights and sounds and the adaptation to new settings; it’s about building relationships and knowledge by being willing to learn and share. A local Tanzanian peer recently described knowledge like this: you may know 2 things, and I may know 5, but together, we each know 7 things. It is a simple concept, yet it requires the willingness to cooperate, share and learn how others think. This is definitely how I view my time here in Mwanza. (personal communication, October 18, 2012)

And Barry, in reflecting upon his internship in Kenya, said that, to have experienced a completely and utterly different way of life [has] given me a new level of respect for that and how difficult life can be. So I think it’s given me that perspective just how different life can be” (interview, October 12, 2012).

Conversations with Rwandans allowed Sam to see that local attitudes towards the genocide were very different depending on whose point of view one was considering. So the government, according to Sam, was promoting a “We are all Rwandans now” message, while there was still a lot of anger, especially in the rural areas. Sam concluded, “Something that I’ve learned is that the international view you’ll have of [post-genocide Rwanda] is quite different from the view on the ground” (interview, October 16, 2012). Moreover, Sam and Vera, who were both based in Rwanda, were particularly impressed with a community service initiative called Umuganda4, in which the last Saturday of every month is set aside for everyone to engage in volunteer community work. They participated in Umuganda and viewed this as an excellent example of community building in Rwanda, unlike anything they had ever experienced at home in Canada. Indeed, Vera concluded that her experience in Rwanda made her more “open culturally [and] aware of humanity and human difference” (interview, October 24, 2012).

Another example of an intern who developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for different perspectives was Rhonda. On her pre-departure survey, she wrote that one of her expectations for the internship was “to learn and share with the people I meet” (interview, October 18, 2012). When asked if the internship met this expectation, she replied in the affirmative, explaining how she learned a lot about Kenyan cultures and thought that the people she met there learned about different cultures in Canada. She spent a lot of time:

… dispelling some of the stereotypes about life in the West and I would definitely feel likewise that I was learning so much from what they were doing over there and I think that was where we both benefitted the most. (interview, October 18, 2012)

Her quote speaks to the potential of ISL experiences in terms of the development of both Difference Awareness and Self Awareness.

Global Awareness involves recognition of existing environmental, political, social and economic issues and interdependencies. The students in this study came away from their ISL experiences with a deeper understanding of global issues, particularly related to inequalities in material wealth. Students were asked what poverty “looks like” in the countries within which they were based and they talked about the living conditions they saw such as people living in “close quarters” in mud/clay houses with no running water, electricity and washrooms. They spoke about the limited clothing and footwear that people, especially some children, had. They described people living on the streets and were especially disturbed by the street children, some of whom seemed to be abusing drugs and other illegal substances. Interns noted the health issues that arise from inadequate health care and social services, as well as how persons with disabilities were treated.

Many of the students were also struck by differences in terms of equality and material wealth within their host countries. Barry, who visited Nairobi and rural areas in Kenya, noted that “it was like two completely different ends of the spectrum” (interview, October 12, 2012). Heidi, who was also placed in Kenya, noted the “huge gap between the top and the bottom” that she witnessed during her travels within the country (interview, October 12, 2012). Other students pointed out that inequalities in wealth existed side by side in the urban centres. Sam expressed his frustration about seeing a man driving an SUV, while also seeing extreme poverty in the streets of Kigali:

I don’t understand how this person just goes about their day and ignores everything that goes around them. I mean you talk in the abstract about inequality all you want, but its things like that that drive it home. When you have a gross domestic product per capita of something like $400, the SUV itself, when you consider the importing cost, it’s like 100 people’s worth of GDP, and that doesn’t include maintenance, gas and everything. So yes, it’s that level of inequality. (interview, October 16, 2012)

Similarly, Vera wrote that the inequality in Rwanda “was so striking because it’s so juxtaposed” (interview, October 24, 2012).

For some of the interns, like Vera, this was the first time they had viewed such extremes in wealth, and it would appear that her experience in East Africa changed her perceptions of poverty. Other interns who had previously travelled and lived in Global South countries, had a refined and complex understanding of the different ways that poverty is experienced. Sam, who had previously spent time in Haiti, wrote that the type of poverty he saw in Rwanda was much less severe than what he had seen in Haiti. Sam, like Lara, was also able to differentiate between the scales of poverty in East Africa compared with Canada.

In order to gauge the students’ understandings of some of the more complex, socio-economic, political and economic contexts for global inequalities, they were asked to respond to a number of questions on their pre- and post-internship surveys, indicating the extent of their agreement (on a Likert scale from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”) with statements that related to Africa (e.g., “I have background knowledge about the history of East Africa”; “East African countries were better off when they were colonies”), the role of global financial institutions (e.g., “I understand the role of the IMF in loaning money to countries in debt”), international trade (e.g., “Global injustices are caused by unfair trading rules”) and Canada’s foreign aid policies.

Most students agreed or strongly agreed with these statements both before and after the internship. There was a slight increase in students who strongly agreed with these statements after the internship, but nothing that can be said to be a significant finding. The one statement that did elicit a more significant shift in responses was “I am informed about current issues that impact international relations.” On the pre-survey, four students agreed/strongly agreed and four disagreed. After the internship, all of the students surveyed agreed/strongly agreed with this statement, indicating that some learning about international issues had occurred during the internship.

The interviews provided more detail about students’ awareness about global issues, especially relating to inequalities. Some of the student interns also seemed to recognize the relative, contextual and complex nature of poverty. Both Sam and Lara expressed critically informed analyses of the causes of inequality, and the role of power and privilege in understanding inequities and inequalities. And Vera, when asked to reflect on solutions to poverty, explained, “I think the issues of poverty are complex in their political and historical situation, but also geographical. Like looking at rural poverty versus urban. It’s something that’s so complex, that for me to state a solution is very difficult” (interview, October 24, 2012). In this way, these students demonstrated their understanding of the socio-economic interdependencies and conditions in the world, and historical reasons for contemporary global inequities.

Finally, in addition to increasing their understandings about socio-economic conditions and inequalities in the world, the students also noted that the ISL experience helped them gain a better understanding of environmental issues (a category I had not initially considered and coded for in my analysis of the data). In particular, a number of students explained how they gained greater insight into sustainable living through their internships. Heidi, for instance, appreciated seeing how Kenya protected its natural environment, and like a number of other interns, returned home with a commitment to live a more sustainable life.

The final dimension of Awareness/Analysis is about Responsibility. Most of the students both entered and left the internship with a sense of responsibility towards their fellow human beings. When asked on their pre-survey if they were motivated by the desire “to help people less fortunate than myself,” six answered in the affirmative. In their short answers to a question about their expectations for the internship, three of the seven students wrote statements attesting to this desire to “help” (e.g., “I also want to help the people of Rwanda and to better understand how my efforts can be directed to this end in the long run,” and “I hope to make a positive impact on the Mwanzan community.”).

In addition, students were asked to rate whether or not they agreed with a set of statements related to this notion of responsibility on both their pre- and post-internships surveys. Such statements included:

  • “People in the West/developed world should help those in need in the ‘developing world’”;
  • “Helping people living in poverty is the responsibility of the government”;
  • “Having an impact on the world is within the reach of most people”;
  • “Helping those in need is my personal responsibility”;
  • “People, regardless of whether they have been successful or not, ought to help those in need”;
  • “I can make a difference in the world.”

Interestingly, there was no significant change between students’ responses before and after the internship. Most agreed or strongly agreed with these statements attesting to their already formed sense of responsibility towards those in need.

However, responsibility within the CGC framework, is not simply helping (i.e., charity), but a deep sense of caring and concern toward and with the “Other.” Some of the students indicated their understanding of this idea. For example, it was expressed in Rhonda’s expectations for the internship, which she wrote on her pre-survey: “To have some sort of impact where both parties feel changed for the better/empowered and grateful for their knowing one another” (interview, October 18, 2012). And Heidi’s definition of a global citizen as someone who is “thinking beyond yourself and your community” also affirms the idea of responsibility beyond charity (interview, October 12, 2012).

Tina, in her interview, explained that for her, being a global citizen meant feeling “interconnectedness to everyone and knowing that my actions affect everyone else’s actions on a local scale up to a global scale” (interview, November 19, 2013). The one student who seemed to understand this notion of responsibility “toward and with the other” was Lara. She explained how the internship operated in such a way to “hugely change” her as a teacher and a researcher, leaving her with a sense of “profound responsibility to the people of Tanzania to write about them responsibly, to accurately articulate the insights and the stories they told” (interview, October 12, 2012). Such ideas bring us closer to the idea that responsibility must mean working together with the “Other” on problems that we share together as global citizens.

Results: Engagement/Action

The second component of CGC is Engagement/Action, and here I summarize the results of the study in terms of shifts in the participants’ self-, civic and social justice actions following their internships in East Africa. Self-Action includes the small, almost mundane changes that individuals made in their lives upon their return to Canada. Students were interviewed two to five months following their internships, and so the data cannot address any long-term changes. All of the students appeared to become more introspective and reflexive about their experiences in East Africa and what they previously took for granted in their lives in Canada.

As Vera stated, “I guess you always feel different after you’ve gone away and come back home … kind of re-evaluating and re-assessing things in your life … things that you have, the relationships you have and things like that” (interview, October 24, 2012). Rhonda similarly spoke about being changed on the inside, and Barry noted the experience’s effects on him:

I think it has just made me a lot more socially conscious just aware of how my actions have an impact and like even how very small things can make a very big difference. So I just think I am more conscious of what potentially could come as a result of my actions usually on a daily basis. So if I am brushing my teeth and I have the water on and am like ‘no.’ (interview, October 12, 2012)

A number of students also remarked on how they became more environmentally conscious after the internship, taking care not to waste water and electricity, drive less frequently, recycle more regularly, consume less and generally live more “frugal” and “simple” lives. And one student explicitly said that she had become more aware of herself as a consumer as a result of the internship.

Participants were changed in other ways from the ISL experience. Many spoke about how they learned to become more patient, flexible, and adaptable through critical incidents they experienced in Tanzania, Kenya or Rwanda. Edna, for instance, who had a lot of frustrations trying to carry out her research project, concluded that the experience had:

… definitely made me stronger and more open to putting myself in situations I’m not comfortable with, for sure. I feel like I can handle them a lot better than I would be nervous beforehand, but I basically spent eight months being in situations where I didn’t really have a lot of control and didn't know what was going on and managed to go through that no problem. (interview, March 29, 2013)

These and other skills, such as negotiating and problem-solving, that students developed through the internship were beneficial for their future research and careers. The majority (seven) of the interns said that the internship had an impact on their research and career interests. Vera shifted from doing lab work to wanting to become a nurse. The internships helped Barry focus his research interests towards international security policies, and Sam on the links between education and economic entrepreneurial literacy. Rhonda, who wanted to be a counsellor before the internship, noted that the internship increased her desire to practice counselling in a “developing” country. Heidi admitted that even though she didn’t know what career she would end up in, she hoped that it would be something where she could “contribute to people.” The internship had motivated Tina to research academic social justice programs to enroll in. And finally, Lara explained how the internship had changed her “dramatically” in terms of her academic work and the ways that she was thinking about Tanzania, a country she had previously lived and worked in.

The other two related dimensions of Engagement/Action are Civic Action and Social Justice Action. There is some evidence of changes in civic action that are related to the ISL internship, but less evident with respect to social justice action. On both the pre- and post-internship surveys, students were asked to indicate the approximate number of times (once/six- month period; once/month; once/week) they participated in the following activities: donated money to charities; volunteered at a charity, written a letter to a politician or newspaper editor, attended a protest march/rally, signed a petition, and; bought a fair-trade product. A comparison of the data from the two surveys shows little change in terms of the civic actions students engaged in. Almost all of them engaged in at least five out of six of these civic actions at least once/month. In addition, some noted that they also attended politicians’ debates, wrote Amnesty International letters, and engaged in reading social justice literature, blogs, websites, etc.

The interview data elicited further details about the civic actions the students were involved in (or had intended to engage in) upon their return to Canada. Heidi, who wanted to get involved in volunteering at a women’s shelter, said “I definitely want to start volunteering because I definitely do feel we could use some more community here, use some more connections with people and giving of time to help solve problems here as well” (interview, October 12, 2012). The internship experience also motivated Rhonda to engage in more volunteer work: “I think I have definitely volunteered more as well. When I went to Kenya I met a lady who works in London and I’m hoping to help her out in raising money for her school she has in Kenya” (interview, October 18, 2012).

Trying to understand students’ engagement with social justice action proved to be more difficult for this study. Vera noted in her interview that she had “become more interested in petitions and protests on a community level and trying to urge the government to make necessary actions” (interview, October 24, 2012). And it seemed clear from her interview that Lara would continue to be involved in the social justice work that she has been deeply committed to for years through her solidarity work in Central America and East Africa.

Central to civic and social justice action is a commitment to working with others to enact positive social change. A critical global citizen is open and willing to learn, especially from those who historically have been marginalized in society. There was evidence of this type of openness to engage in solidarity with others from more than half of the interns. Heidi defined a global citizen as someone who worked together with others at a problem, “instead of trying to impose your own way of thinking or doing things onto people who are part of another culture” (interview, October 12, 2012). Tina, in her blog, wrote that her experience in Tanzania was about “more than the absorption of new sights and sounds and the adaptation to new settings; it’s about building relationships and knowledge by being willing to learn and share” (personal communication, October 18, 2012).

Discussion

The findings outlined above would suggest that there is some evidence that the ISL internship that these university students participated in helped to construct them as critical global citizens. We can see how students grew in terms of their understanding of difference, global issues, their positionality and privilege, and sense of responsibility. The data from this study demonstrated that for the majority of students, the development of relationships was fundamental to their ISL experiences. In addition, there is further evidence that shows their development as active global citizens who have made (or at least intend to make) changes to their personal lives and engage in civic actions. However, the story is not quite as simple as that. This is where it becomes important to tease out the differences between the students to see the varied and complex ways that international experiences operate to shape and make global citizens. A post-colonial lens can assist with these processes of critique and interrogation to unpack the complexities of these processes. There are three themes I will elaborate upon here in the discussion: helping, othering, and the intensification effect.

Helping/Responsibility

To recap from above, most of the students stated on their pre-surveys that were motivated to participate in this ISL program because of a desire to help “those less fortunate” than themselves. (Lara was the only student who answered this question in the negative.) Others noted their desire to help and make a positive impact. Motivations are difficult to study empirically as study participants may not be honest about their “true” motivations, especially if these may be viewed as less desirable and altruistic. There are many implications of what Heron (2007) calls the “helping imperative,” which affirm benefits in favour of Global North volunteers over Global South “beneficiaries.” Heron’s (2007) research on Canadian women who travel to Africa to engage in development work shows that the desire to do good work is largely motivated by a sense of personal longing to construct the helping self (or global citizen), who makes a positive difference in the lives of those in need by implementing Western-style reforms.

Tiessen’s (2012) more recent study about the motivations of Canadian youth participating in three-to-six-month development internships shows the complexity of motivations and tensions that exist within and between the desire to help and the desire for personal growth. The latter includes a desire to test an academic background or career choice, which most of Tiessen’s 68 participants said was the most important motivation for participating in their short-term (between three and six months) volunteer-abroad programs. What distinguishes Tiessen’s study from my own is that she asked participants to first rank their motivations for participating in the volunteer-abroad program and then asked them, in a separate question, to state which motivation was the most important. In my study, I only asked participants to rank (on a scale from “not important” to “essential”) a list of motivations for participating in the internship. Tiessen’s methodology allows for a more nuanced understanding of what motivates students to participate in these types of international experiences. However, we are still left with the problem of teasing out the meaning of motivations and more importantly, social justice actions that might stem from a sense of responsibility to working with the “Other.”

Othering

The desire to help must be distinguished from the idea of responsibility, which was the focus of this study. Responsibility, within the CGC framework, is not simply helping as charity, but a deep sense of caring and concern towards and desire to work with the “Other” in solidarity to effect social change. Central to the idea of mutual reciprocity is viewing the “Other” as an equal with whom one works in solidarity to bring about social change. Despite the depiction outlined in the findings section above of students who had developed a more critical awareness of difference, there was also evidence of stereotyping that illustrated deep-rooted prejudiced ideas about the “Other” as alien and inferior. Some of the depictions of the women and minorities that students saw reveal these attitudes.

In her blog, Edna, for example, wrote about the women she saw in Tanzania:

I admire the women here, they can carry a wide range of things on their heads with no hands.… I could never do that.… These women can even easily navigate in out of the packed streets without the bucket even teetering, it really amazes me. (personal communication, July 4, 2012)

And here she writes about the Muslims in Mwanza:

The lovely mosque just down the street also would go off more than usual, about three times a night, instead of one…The Mosques advertise their call to prayer over the loud speaker. This involves a man doing some sort of chant/weird singing that is not at a volume that is respectful to the mosques neighbours. (personal communication, August 28, 2012)

The words she uses to describe women and Muslims (i.e., “amazes me” and “weird”) illustrate an exoticizing of the “Other.”

Another example of “othering” is that despite students’ efforts to see and describe the differences amongst the populations of the East African countries in which they were situated, some slipped into homogenizing the experiences of Africans. Heidi, for example, titled a blog post “TIA: This Is Africa,” in which she described her time in North Maragoli, Kenya (personal communication, June 19, 2012). Titles like this speak to unspoken assumptions related to homogenizing African experiences in the same way that people in the West often refer to specific countries around the world and then Africa, as it if were one country itself, in the same sentence.

There is further evidence of “othering” processes whereby the interns had internalized binary assumptions about the world such as “developed/developing.” The binary is implicit in students’ surprise that the cities they visited were “Americanized, international, developed and cosmopolitan,” as if non-Western cities could not be international or cosmopolitan. Some also seemed surprised to see examples of extreme material wealth in Africa, something not depicted in the Western mass media nearly as much as depictions of poverty and suffering to which those in the West have become inured.

The Intensification Effect

How, then, can we account for these differences in terms of how students experienced and later came to reflect upon the impact of the internship experience on themselves as global citizens? A number of factors need to be taken into account. Age is one of them. Reading through the data, it became clearer that the students who were older than 30 had a much more critical and analytical understanding of their experiences in East Africa.

However, age was not the only variable that helps to explain the differences amongst the students. Another related factor was the importance of previous international experiences and other background knowledge about global issues, development, etc. Tina’s background in development studies and Lara’s in urban education contributed to their more sophisticated understandings about difference, global issues, power, and privilege. Indeed, Lara was the only intern who seemed to understand that her privileged experience in Tanzania reflected her status and position in relation to the people with whom she interacted.

Prior to this ISL experience, all of the interns had travelled to countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, South Asia, and Australasia. This ranged from one-week to three-month trips, with the majority of their abroad experiences lasting longer than a month. Six of the eight had spent extended periods travelling and living abroad. Clearly, previous international experience, especially in Global South settings, enhanced the global learning of the students in this study. For example, Sam, who had spent a month in Haiti before his internship in Rwanda, wrote:

I’ve gotten used to sticking out. Whether it's Haitian children pointing at me and yelling ‘Blanco’ or Rwandan children (and sometime adults) pointing at me and yelling ‘Muzungu’, I’ve gotten used to being singled out because of my skin colour. I remember being annoyed by this the entire time I was in Haiti, as well as the first few weeks I was here in Rwanda, but I’ve somewhat come to peace with it (although it still annoys me). I guess the big thing was to realize that there were no overtly racist undertones meant by this, but instead that it is more of a cultural thing.… It’s going to happen, there is nothing I can do about it, so why be annoyed? (interview, October 16, 2012)

This quote illustrates the cumulative learning that Sam experienced based on a number of international experiences.

Lara, who had extensive (20 years) experience working with non-governmental organizations and volunteer agencies in Central and South America, as well as prior experience in Tanzania co-ordinating ISL programs, provided the most insightful and critically perceptive comments about her experiences with this internship and the ways in which she was transformed through it. As reviewed in the results section above, Lara had the most sophisticated and critical understanding of her own privilege as a white, middle-class, formally educated woman, the complex reasons why parts of the world like East Africa remain resource poor, as well as the complicated ways that difference is constructed in relations between individuals from the Global South and Global North. Her thinking on these topics was not the result of this one ISL experience, but the culmination of many years of living and working in Central America and East Africa, and the critical study of social justice and education. Hers is a clear example of what Bringle and Hatcher (2011) posit as the intensification effect of ISL that has:

… the capacity to intensify any previously documented outcome from study abroad, service learning, or international education in isolation. That is, we expect that even short-term ISL results in greater improvement in intercultural skills, more rapid language acquisition, better demonstration of democratic skills, deeper understanding of global issues, greater transformation of students’ lives and careers, more sensitivity to ethical issues, and more lifelong interest in global issues (to identify only a few possible outcomes) than domestic service learning. (p. 22)

There is definitely evidence of the intensification effect in this study. A few of the students noted that the experience “reconfirmed” and “reinforced” things for them about their global values and perspectives. Tina claimed that the internship reinforced in her the desire to continue her education in the “community development social justice realm” (interview, November 19, 2013). Vera, who had a previous five-month ISL experience in Tanzania, explained:

You always feel different after you’ve gone away and come back home … kind of re-evaluating and re-assessing things in your life … things that you have, the relationships you have and things like that. I think not necessarily this, maybe the past couple [of internship experiences] combined might have probably made me more aware of sustainability, more social issues at least focusing on them more than before. (interview, October 24, 2012)

And Sam, in reflecting upon the more extensive views of the world that global citizens had, said that he had:

… already had that broader view and that again is because of my previous experiences as well as the type of work I do. I read incessantly, but I think this [internship] goes further than that and I think I have a better understanding especially of the relationship between beneficiaries and donors and intermediaries being non-governmental organizations as far as development stuff goes. (interview, October 16, 2012)

So Sam explains here how he came into this internship already predisposed to a set of views about global citizenship, but that this particular experience further enhanced and developed his understandings, especially about development issues.

In fact, all eight of the students in this study were already predisposed to particular values and attitudes most commonly associated with global citizenship, such as a sense of responsibility to others. So while this internship contributed to the development of these students as global citizens, it did so in conjunction with many other formative experiences they had already in their lives.

Conclusion

Using a conceptual framework of Critical Global Citizenship, developed by the author, this study set out to understand the ways in which ISL experiences contribute to developing university students as critically engaged global citizens. The findings from this case study reveal that ISL experiences can provide opportunities for students to develop into global citizens. However, while this study provides evidence of student transformation in terms of their awareness about difference, global issues and themselves, there is less evidence to suggest that this particular ISL experience helped them to understand more complex processes associated with what we might term the “critical” dimensions of global citizenship. These include analyses of how difference is constructed, the advantages of one’s own privilege as white, Western university students, and political-economic and socio-cultural roots of inequalities in power/wealth locally and globally.

Moreover, critical global citizenship involves not only awareness of one’s responsibility to respond positively to existing inequities and injustices, but also that people work together in solidarity with one another, across difference, to form mutually reciprocal relationships to engage in change. To enact positive social and ecological change, the critical global citizen works with others individuals, alliances, organizations, networks and coalitions, which are local, regional, national and global. As Shultz (2007) writes:

These processes of building relationships and creating space for dialogue and change are meant to engage participants in acting on an understanding of their common humanity and shared concerns. In this the global citizen is a companion, accompanying the other on a journey to find just and compassionate responses to injustice. (p. 256)

Being actively involved in social justice movements, organizations, etc. to challenge and change inequitable power relations in society is a tall order and the kind of activist global citizenship that few actually embrace. Moreover, measuring the impact of a single international experience, albeit a long one (two to six months) on the development of students as activist global citizens is difficult, if not impossible. There are myriad processes that contribute to the making and shaping of social justice activists, and at best we can assert that ISL experiences have the potential to contribute to these processes in conjunction with other experiences that explicitly aim to construct in students a set of dispositions and desires to work actively with others to engage in change.

The discussion above pointed to the importance of attending to the intensification effect in international experiences. The majority of students in this study had had previous international experience and most for what might be considered longer periods of time. For a number of students, this internship reconfirmed their already held global values, perspectives and attitudes. For some, even though they had previous international experiences, their eyes were opened to new socio-cultural realities previously unknown to them. However, the older students, who already had had a number of international experiences, especially in the Global South, also experienced further transformation as critical global citizens through this particular internship.

That is not to say that the younger interns who had no previous, long-term international experience did not become global citizens through this particular internship. In many ways, this internship did contribute to the processes associated with becoming a global citizen, but it must be stated clearly that these were students who were already positively predisposed to the values, attitudes, and ideas most commonly associated with global citizenship. However, many of them, who had not engaged in previous reading and research about the historical, socio-political and economic reasons for global inequalities, struggled to find the words to explain how they understood difference, injustice and inequities. Therefore, what this study shows is how crucial it is to provide students with background information about the countries they are placed in so that they can better make sense of the contemporary situation in these settings. As well, it is essential that student interns be provided with structured opportunities to engage critically about their ISL experiences before, during, and after their internships. Indeed, initiating processes of self-reflexivity and critical literacy into ISL programs would go a long way in constructing critical global citizens who actively engage in solidarity with others to effect positive social and ecological change.

End Notes

1 The name of the university, the ISL project, partners, and participants are all pseudonyms, and any identifying information has been removed to protect all identities.

2 Students were encouraged to maintain blogs through the ISL program in which they participated. These were publicly accessible on the NGS website. Students were not provided with any prompts, questions, or specific directions about what to (and not to) include in their blogs.

3 This included a Likert scale chart with a set of motivations (e.g., “To help people less fortunate than myself”; “To improve my CV”) and a short-answer question.

4 Umuganda in Rwanda is a mandatory community service day from 8:00am to 11:00am, on the last Saturday of each month. The day is called umunsi w’umuganda, meaning “contribution made by the community,” which is designed to be a day of contribution and building the country by citizens themselves. By law all able-bodied persons above the age of 18 and below 65 are expected to participate in volunteer community work.

5 Edna spent three months in Mexico and Guatemala. Sam spent one month in Haiti and one month in New Zealand. Tina spent six months in England. Rhonda spent four months in Kenya for four months and Vera spent five months in Tanzania. Lara spent six months in Mexico, one year in Paraguay, and 2 months/year for three years in Tanzania.

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Appendix 1

NORTH GOES SOUTH INTERNSHIP: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
PLEASE COMPLETE THIS SURVEY AS HONESTLY AS POSSIBLE. THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS.

PART I. BACKGROUND ON THE INTERNSHIP

Dates:
Location(s):

PART II. MOTIVATIONS. Use a checkmark to indicate the importance of each of the following in your decision to be a NGS intern:

  IMPORTANT SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT VERY IMPORTANT ESSENTIAL
To have some adventure
and fun.
To help people less fortunate than myself.
To have the opportunity to learn.
To better understand those who are different from myself.
To help me with my future career.
To give back to others who are less fortunate than myself.
To improve my C.V.
Other? _____________
_____________

PART III. WHEN I THINK ABOUT GOING TO AFRICA FOR THE NGS INTERNSHIP I FEEL…

Place a check mark in the columns that come closest to representing your feelings.

  NOT AT ALL SOMEWHAT VERY EXTREMELY
THRILLED
NERVOUS
CURIOUS
SCARED
ENTHUSIASTIC
EMPOWERED
EXCITED
WORRIED
CONFIDENT
UNIQUE/
SPECIAL
CONFUSED
PREPARED
INTERESTED
OTHER? LIST HERE ___________
___________

PART IV. SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS

1. Please use the space here to describe what you hope to get out of this internship. What are your expectations? In the short term? In the long term?






2. How do you think you will participate in community life in Mwanza?






3. What do you think the challenges/barriers will be for you during this internship?

PART V. Using the following 1-5 scale, please indicate by circling the most correct response, the degree to which you agree with the following statements:

_________ 1 _________ 2 ________ 3 _________ 4 _________ 5 __________ 6
STRONGLY
DISAGRE
DISAGRE NEUTRAL AGREE STRONGLY
AGREE
(DON'T KNOW)

1 2 3 4 5 I understand why people are poor.
1 2 3 4 5 I have background knowledge about the history of eastern Africa.
1 2 3 4 5 Tanzanian and Canadians are basically the same.
1 2 3 4 5 London is a safer place to be than Mwanza, Tanzania.
1 2 3 4 5 Governments in Africa are corrupt.
1 2 3 4 5 I feel I judge people living with HIV/AIDS unfairly.
1 2 3 4 5 Global injustices are caused by unfair trading rules.
1 2 3 4 5 Discrimination against girls and women is the same the world over.
1 2 3 4 5 I understand the role of the IMF in loaning money to countries in debt.
1 2 3 4 5 Most people in the world want the same things for their children.
1 2 3 4 5 I am aware of Canada’s foreign aid policies.
1 2 3 4 5 Eastern African countries were much better off when they were colonies.
1 2 3 4 5 I understand most of the reasons and causes of conflict among nations.
1 2 3 4 5 Governments in the ‘developed’ world are corrupt.
1 2 3 4 5 I am informed of current issues that impact international relations.
1 2 3 4 5 Canadians are a part of the problem of global poverty.
1 2 3 4 5 People in the ‘developing’ world should use birth control to control population growth.
1 2 3 4 5 Africa is a dangerous place.
1 2 3 4 5 People who are well-off generally work harder than those who are poor.

PART VI. Use checkmarks to indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

  STRONGLY AGREE AGREE NEUTRAL
(Don't know)
DISAGREE STRONGLY
DISAGREE
Everyone has the opportunity to be successful if they work hard enough.
I am privileged.
I will be valued during this internship.
I am willing to defend my own views when they differ from others.
I am open to learning Kiswahili.
I understand what it’s like to be poor.
I consider different perspectives when evaluating global problems.
I am fortunate to live in Canada.
I am open to people who strive to live lives very different from my own.
Tanzanians in Mwanza want me to come to help.
I am accepting of other people with different religious and spiritual traditions.
I have a hard time when someone doesn’t understand my point of view.
I understand what it’s like to be discriminated against.
I take into account different perspectives before drawing conclusions about the world around me.
I feel I make quick judgements about poor people.
I take my privileges for granted.

PART VII. Using the following 1-5 scale, please indicate by circling the most correct response, the degree to which you agree with the following statements:

_________ 1 _________ 2 ________ 3 _________ 4 _________ 5 __________ 6
STRONGLY
DISAGRE
DISAGRE NEUTRAL AGREE STRONGLY
AGREE
(DON'T KNOW)

1 2 3 4 5 People in the west/developed world should help those in need in the ‘developing’ world.
1 2 3 4 5 Helping people living in poverty is the responsibility of the government.
1 2 3 4 5 Having an impact on the world is within the reach of most people.
1 2 3 4 5 Some of the world’s problems are just too big to solve.
1 2 3 4 5 Helping those in need is my personal responsibility.
1 2 3 4 5 Adults should give some time for the good of their community.
1 2 3 4 5 I put my beliefs into action by standing up for my principles.
1 2 3 4 5 People, regardless of whether they have been successful or not, ought to help those in need.
1 2 3 4 5 I can make a difference in the world.
1 2 3 4 5 There will always be poor people in the world.
1 2 3 4 5 People working together can make the world a better place.

PART VIII. SOCIAL ACTIONS

Over the past six months, indicate the approximate number of times you have engaged in the following activities. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

NEVER ONCE OVER
6 MONTH PERIOD
APPROX. ONCE/
MONTH
AT LEAST ONCE/
WEEK
Donated money to charities.
Volunteered your time at a charity.
Recycle.
Written letter to politician or editor of newspaper.
Attended protest march/rally.
Signed petition.
Bought a fair-trade product.
Other social/political actions?
Name them: ________________
________________

PART IX. INDIVIDUAL BACKGROUND

1. Name: ______________________________
2. Age in years: ________________
3. Gender (circle one) Male Female

4. Ethnic identity that best describes you (circle as appropriate)
a) Multiple Ethnicities
b) African/African Canadian/Black
c) Asian/Pacific Islander
d) European/White
e) Hispanic/Latino/Latina
f) First Nations/Indian/Native Canadian
g) No answer

5. Do you speak any languages (well or very well) other than English? Yes   No

If yes, name the language(s) here: ______________________________

6. Year of Study: 1st  2ND  3rd  4TH  OTHER  (circle one)

7. Current student status (circle as appropriate)
a) Full-time student
b) Part-time student
c) International/Foreign student
d) Undergraduate
e) Graduate: Masters or PhD (circle one only)

8. Major field of study (circle as appropriate)
a) Health and Medicine
b) Arts
c) Business
d) Law
e) Education
f) Social Work
g) Geography and History
h) Communications and Journalism
i) Other? Please specify: __________________________

9. Previous experience living/travelling abroad
a) Have you ever travelled abroad? Yes  No  (circle one)
If yes, please list the countries/regions of the world and approximate amount of
time spent in each:
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

b) Have you ever lived abroad? Yes No (circle one)
If yes, please list the countries/regions of the world and approximate amount
of time spent in each:
______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

10. Circle your perceived Kiswahili language competency:

LEVEL DESCRIPTION
None No or very little knowledge of Kiswahili.
A1 Beginner Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, people you know and things you have. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2 Elementary Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal & family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of need.
B1 Intermediate Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
B2 Upper intermediate Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue.
C1 Advanced Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

Appendix 2

NORTH GOES SOUTH INTERNSHIP: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW?
THIS SURVEY IS TO BE COMPLETED AT LEAST ONE MONTH AFTER YOUR RETURN TO CANADA FOLLOWING YOUR NGS INTERNSHIP. PLEASE COMPLETE THIS SURVEY AS HONESTLY AS POSSIBLE. THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS.

PART I. BACKGROUND ON THE INTERNSHIP

Actual Dates:
Location(s): (e.g. which yoghurt kitchen)

PART II. Circle your perceived language competency now.

LEVEL DESCRIPTION
None No or very little knowledge of Kiswahili.
A1 Beginner Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, people you know and things you have. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2 Elementary Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal & family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of need.
B1 Intermediate Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
B2 Upper intermediate Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue.
C1 Advanced Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

PART III. SINCE MY RETURN FROM THE NGS INTERNSHIP, I HAVE FELT…

Place a check mark in the columns that come closest to representing your feelings.

  NOT AT ALL SOMEWHAT VERY EXTREMELY
THRILLED
NERVOUS
CURIOUS
SCARED
ENTHUSIASTIC
EMPOWERED
EXCITED
WORRIED
CONFIDENT
UNIQUE/
SPECIAL
CONFUSED
PREPARED
INTERESTED
OTHER? LIST HERE _____________
___________

PART IV.Using the following 1-5 scale, please indicate by circling the most correct response, the degree to which you agree with the following statements:

_________ 1 _________ 2 ________ 3 _________ 4 _________ 5 __________ 6
STRONGLY
DISAGRE
DISAGRE NEUTRAL AGREE STRONGLY
AGREE
(DON'T KNOW)

1 2 3 4 5 I understand why people are poor.
1 2 3 4 5 I have background knowledge about the history of eastern Africa.
1 2 3 4 5 Germans exercised their colonial power over Tanzania in brutal ways.
1 2 3 4 5 People in the ‘developing’ world should use birth control.
1 2 3 4 5 Governments in Africa are corrupt.
1 2 3 4 5 I feel I judge people living with HIV/AIDS unfairly.
1 2 3 4 5 Global injustices are caused by unfair trading rules.
1 2 3 4 5 Discrimination against girls and women is the same the world over.
1 2 3 4 5 I understand the role of the IMF in loaning money to countries in debt.
1 2 3 4 5 I understand what it’s like to be poor.
1 2 3 4 5 I am aware of Canada’s foreign aid policies.
1 2 3 4 5 Eastern African countries were much better off when they were colonies.
1 2 3 4 5 I understand most of the reasons and causes of conflict among nations.
1 2 3 4 5 Governments in the ‘developed’ world are corrupt.
1 2 3 4 5 I am informed of current issues that impact international relations.
1 2 3 4 5 I feel I make quick judgements about poor people.
1 2 3 4 5 I know something about the history of colonialism in Eastern Africa.
1 2 3 4 5 People who are well-off generally work harder than those who are poor.

PART V. Use checkmarks to indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

  STRONGLY AGREE AGREE NEUTRAL
(Don't know)
DISAGREE STRONGLY
DISAGREE
Everyone has the opportunity to be successful if they work hard enough.
I know what it is like to get out of my comfort zone.
I am privileged.
I will be valued during this internship.
I am willing to defend my own views when they differ from others.
I am open to learning Kiswahili.
I believe everyone has the right to their own religious/spiritual beliefs.
Most people in the world want the same things for their children.
I consider different perspectives when evaluating global problems.
Tanzanian and Canadians are basically the same.
I am open to people who strive to live lives very different from my own.
Tanzanians in Mwanza wanted me to come to help.
I am accepting of other people with different religious and spiritual traditions.
I have a hard time when someone doesn’t understand my point of view.
People in the west/developing world should help those in the developing world.
I take into account different perspectives before drawing conclusions about the world around me.
Canadians are a part of the problem of global poverty.

PART VI. Using the following 1-5 scale, please indicate by circling the most correct response, the degree to which you agree with the following statements:

_________ 1 _________ 2 ________ 3 _________ 4 _________ 5 __________ 6
STRONGLY
DISAGRE
DISAGRE NEUTRAL AGREE STRONGLY
AGREE
(DON'T KNOW)

1 2 3 4 5 People in the west/developed world should help those in need in the ‘developing’ world.
1 2 3 4 5 Helping people living in poverty is the responsibility of the government.
1 2 3 4 5 Having an impact on the world is within the reach of most people.
1 2 3 4 5 Some of the world’s problems are just too big to solve.
1 2 3 4 5 Helping those in need is my personal responsibility.
1 2 3 4 5 Adults should give some time for the good of their community.
1 2 3 4 5 I put my beliefs into action by standing up for my principles.
1 2 3 4 5 People, regardless of whether they have been successful or not, ought to help those in need.
1 2 3 4 5 I can make a difference in the world.
1 2 3 4 5 There will always be poor people in the world.
1 2 3 4 5 People working together can make the world a better place.
1 2 3 4 5 I am a global citizen.

PART VII. SOCIAL ACTIONS – Since you have returned from Tanzania, indicate the approximate number of times you plan to engage in the following activities.

NEVER ONCE OVER
6 MONTH PERIOD
APPROX. ONCE/
MONTH
AT LEAST
ONCE/
WEEK
Donated money to charities.
Volunteered your time at a charity.
Recycle.
Written letter to politician or editor of newspaper.
Attended protest march/rally.
Signed petition.
Buy fair-trade products.
Other social/political actions?
Name them: __________
_________

Appendix 3

POST-INTERNSHIP INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  1. In your initial survey you wrote that these were your expectations for the internship. (Read them to the student.) Can you talk about the degree to which the internship actually met your expectations?
  2. Describe a typical day during your internship.
  3. Describe how you participated in local community life during your internship, such as eating local food, going to community events, working in the kitchens)
  4. You note on your initial survey that your language proficiency in Kiswahili was xx. Can you describe what you were able to do with the level of Kiswahili that you developed during the internship?
  5. Let’s talk about poverty. What does it mean to you? How was it lived/experienced in Tanzania? What did it look like? Was poverty there different from poverty in Canada? If so, how? What do you think are some solutions to ending poverty?
  6. What surprised you about being in Tanzania? What was unexpected?
  7. Describe a critical incident or moment/s of uncertainty that took place and what you learned from it/them.
  8. What were some of the barriers/challenges you faced during this internship?
  9. How was this experience emotional for you? (What emotions came up for you during the internship?)
  10. Now that you’ve been back in Canada, xx months, what are some of the unexpected challenges/struggles you’ve faced since your return?

IMPACT OF INTERNSHIPS

  1. What have you learned from the people you worked with in Mwanza?
  2. What do you think the people in Mwanza whom you worked with learned from you?
  3. What have you learned about Tanzania from this internship?
  4. How do you think the people you worked with in Mwanza viewed you?
  5. What sense of connection do you have to Tanzania now, if any? (Alternatively, describe how you feel connected to Tanzania?)
  6. How, if at all, do you feel you have become a global citizen through this internship experience?

CONCLUDING QUESTIONS

  1. How, if at all, did participating in this internship, make you feel differently about your life?
  2. What are you doing differently now as a result of having participated in the NGS internship?
  3. (Prompts: use examples from survey Part VIII. Social Actions)
  4. Are there any other changes you are likely to make in your life as a result of participating in the NGS internship?
  5. Would you consider doing service learning again? Where? Why or why not?
  6. Have you changed in any other ways from your experiences as an intern? If so, how? If not, why not?
  7. If you could recommend any changes about how the intern program, what would they be?


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