Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 6, No 1 (2018)

Where are the Host Mothers? How Gendered Relations Shape the International Experiential Learning Program Experience for Women in the South

Xochilt Hernandez, Ashley Rerrie


Host communities are becoming a new subject of interest in the research surrounding International Experiential Learning (IEL), but there is a dearth of knowledge surrounding the impact of IEL programs on host families, and on women in host communities in particular. This article contributes to this body of knowledge by examining the impact of IEL programs on host mothers in a rural community in Nicaragua that receives foreign students annually. Hernandez and Rerrie argue that the burden of labour of hosting students falls on women in host communities, who are expected to perform stereotypically feminine roles in order to be seen as ‘good’ mothers and accessing the benefits that come from the student visits. This care labour is feminized, unpaid or underpaid, and seen as a natural extension of their roles in the community in a patriarchal society. IEL programs rely on the social dynamics in communities that are shaped by patriarchy and global neoliberal systems that have added ‘development’ and ‘community work’ to women’s roles in the community. Rather than empowering women, IEL programs also have a cost because of the highly gendered nature of the work involved for women in host communities. 


international experiential learning; gender; host mother; labour; feminism; neoliberalism; feminized labour; patriarchy; development; mothering

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