Volunteering and Communication – Volume 2
Studies in International and Intercultural Contexts
The second volume of Volunteering and Communication seeks to build upon the agenda set in motion by the first volume, which demonstrated the breadth of research being conducted on volunteers. The focus of this second volume is on the important issues related to volunteering in international and intercultural contexts. The chapters present empirical studies of volunteering divided into three sections. The first section includes six studies of the experiences of volunteers from a variety of countries including Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. The second section includes studies of volunteers from the United States in other countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. The final section includes two studies of volunteers serving recent immigrants to their home country. This volume provides a unique focus by providing a more nuanced examination than the first volume did of some of the unique differences of volunteering in international and intercultural contexts. It is hoped the two books will stimulate additional research on volunteers.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: An Introduction to International and Intercultural Volunteering
- International Volunteering
- Definitions Of Volunteering
- Informal Volunteering
- Embedded Volunteering
- What Does It Mean To Volunteer?
- Political Structure
- Economic Conditions
- Historical Context
- Intercultural Volunteering
- Organization Of This Book
- Section 1: Volunteers Around the Globe
- Chapter 2: Developing Public Disaster Communication for Volunteer Recruitment: Understanding Volunteer Motivations
- Understanding Spontaneous Volunteers
- Theoretical Perspectives
- Intrinsic Factors
- Extrinsic Factors
- RQ1: The Role of Emotions
- RQ2: Feelings of Responsibility
- RQ3: Family and Friendship Networks
- RQ4: The Role of Social Media
- Conclusion And Recommendations
- Chapter 3: Volunteering in the Thai Context: Rising Above the Waters
- Interviewee Volunteer Motivation
- Thai Cultural Values Cited as Supportive of Volunteer Efforts
- Chapter 4: Exploration of the State and Nature of Korean Parents’ Volunteering in School: Who Volunteers, for What, and Why?
- Background And Theoretical Perspective
- Parental Involvement in South Korea’s Educational Context
- Korea’s Educational Fever
- Korean Parents’ School Volunteering
- Contingent And Motivational Factors Of School Volunteering
- Parents’ Socioeconomic Status and School Volunteering
- Motivational Factors Of Parents’ School Volunteering
- Parental Role Construction
- Parents’ Educational Efficacy
- Demands and Opportunities for School Involvement
- Descriptive Results
- Socioeconomic Factors and School Volunteering Experiences
- Effects of Motivational Factors on School Volunteering
- Future Directions
- Chapter 5: Knowledge Sharing in International Volunteering Cooperation: Challenges, Opportunities and Impacts on Results
- Literature Review
- Conceptual Framework And Research Questions
- RQ1: Absorptive Capacity of the Volunteer
- RQ2: Absorptive Capacity of the Partner
- RQ3: Shared Language
- Chapter 6: Constructing “Them” and “Us”: Host Communities’ Perspectives of Voluntourist Identities
- Literature Review
- The Cultural Context
- The Participants
- Data Collection
- Data Analysis
- An “Exotic” Identity
- The Impact of Ascribing an Exotic Identity
- A “Friend” Identity
- The Impact of Ascribing a Friend Identity
- A “Role Model” Identity
- The Impact of Ascribing a Role Model Identity
- Discussion: Constructing “Them” And “Us”
- Section 2: US Volunteers Abroad
- Chapter 7: Voices from the Peace Corps: An Intercultural Communication Study of Blogs from Southern Africa
- Literature Review
- Reflective Writing and Blogs
- Intercultural Communication Frames
- Research Questions
- Culture Shock
- Cross-Cultural Comparison
- Communication Challenges
- Intercultural Adaptation
- Limitations Of The Study
- Chapter 8: How Was Your “Trip ?” Long-Term International Volunteering and the Discourses of Meaningful/less Work
- Cross-Cultural Discourses of (Volunteer) Work Meaning/fullness
- American Discourses of (Volunteer) Work
- Global South Discourses of (Volunteer) Work
- Research Questions And Methodology
- Sampling and Data
- Analytic Processes
- The Meanings Of Long-Term International Volunteers’ Service
- Service Experience as…Employment/Career
- Service Experience as…Personal Development
- Service Experience as…Philanthropy/Humanitarianism
- Service Experience as…Whole Life
- Study Implications
- Considerations for Theory Development and Research
- Insight for Volunteers and Organizations
- Chapter 9: Bridging Cultural Gaps: U.S. Voluntourists Teaching English in China
- Managing Cultural Shock for Sojourners
- Challenges During Short-term Teaching Abroad
- Context: GV Volunteer Teams in China
- Cultural Shock When Settling Down
- Challenge of Teaching Chinese Students
- Cultural Learning: Interaction with Chinese English Teachers in Training
- Support and Encouragement
- Accomplishment and Impact
- Chapter 10: Making Good: The Identity and Sensemaking of International Mission Trip Volunteers
- Literature Review
- Identity Construction
- Process and Participants
- Mission Trip Context
- Data Collection Procedures
- Data Analysis
- Multiple Identities of Mission Trip Volunteers
- Making Sense Of Mission Trip Experiences
- Limitations And Future Research
- Chapter 11: Implications for Constructing the “Serviceable Other”: Desired vs. Actual Outcomes in Rotary’s International Service Projects
- The International “Serviceable Other”
- Social Identity and Othering
- Constructing the International “Serviceable Other”
- Rotary International
- Interview Procedures
- Data Analysis
- Analysis And Interpretation
- Rotarians Are the Solution
- Rotarians Can Get It Done
- Dependent on Outside Help
- Static Understanding of Server and Served
- Service Should Encourage Self-sufficiency
- Dissatisfaction with Outcomes
- Implications and Recommendations for the Practice of International Service
- Limitations and Future Research
- Chapter 12: Constructing “American Exceptionalism”: Peace Corps Volunteer Discourses of Race, Gender, and Empowerment
- American Exceptionalism And Its Intersections
- The Peace Corps Volunteer: Where Exceptionalism Meets Humanitarian Aid
- Postcolonial Perspectives
- Intersectional Concerns
- Exceptional Constructions: Whiteness, Masculinity, And The Ability To Empower
- The (White) Exceptional American
- The (Masculine) Exceptional American
- The (Disempowered) International Other
- “You Just Don’t Have That Same Ability”: Returning American Exceptionalism Home
- Section 3: Cross-cultural Volunteering at Home
- Chapter 13: On Equal Terms? Desired Equality and Concealed Hierarchy in a German-Turkish Mentoring Project
- Partnership: Too Good To Be True?
- Postcolonialism As Theoretical Lens
- Case Description: The Mentoring Project
- Idealistic Partnership: “We Enrich One Another Equally”
- Simulated Partnership: “Of Course This Is Not At Eye Level”
- Reflexive Partnership: “I Don’t Have This Helpers’ Syndrome”
- Integration Versus Equality/Mutual Learning
- Identity Dimensions of a Partnership Discourse
- Nothing but an Empty Buzzword?
- Chapter 14: Organizing for Social Justice: Serving the Needs of Bhutanese Refugees in Atlanta, Georgia
- From Bhutan to the United States
- Resettlement in the United States
- Articulation of Need in Volunteer-refugee Relationship
- From Material Services to Pedagogy
- Networks of Communication
- Chapter 15: Reflections and New Directions on Volunteering in International and Intercultural Contexts
- Prevalence Of Volunteering In International And Intercultural Contexts
- Diversity Of Volunteering In International And Intercultural Contexts
- Problems Facing Volunteers In International And Intercultural Contexts
- Problems Evaluating Volunteering In International And Intercultural Contexts
- Challenges Facing Researchers in International and Intercultural Contexts
- Author Biographies
- Author Index
- Subject Index
An Introduction TO International AND Intercultural Volunteering
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
In the spring of 2013, I sent this email message to the Turkish Red Crescent Society (Türk Kızılayı) in the Capitol City of Ankara:
Hello–My name is Loril Gossett and I am an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the USA…
I have worked with the American Red Cross for several years. I have studied the ways they motivate, organize, and train their volunteers.
I am currently working on a book that examines volunteers and nonprofit organizations outside of the USA. I will be in Ankara this summer and was hoping I could make an appointment to discuss these issues with someone in your office.
I am interested in understanding the nature of volunteering and charity work in Turkey. I would be particularly interested in talking to someone who is working with volunteers helping with the Syrian refugee effort….
This seemed like a simple and straightforward request. After volunteering with the American Red Cross for several years, I felt I had a decent understanding of how these types of disaster relief societies functioned. The Turkish Red Crescent and the American Red Cross are sister organizations within the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). I was going to be in Turkey for a few weeks in the summer and thought it would be a great opportunity ← 3 | 4 → to see how a non-Western IFRC organization operated. Additionally, I had been following the recent Syrian Refugee crisis and knew many of these displaced people were being cared for in Red Crescent managed camps along the Turkish/Syrian border. Given my interest in volunteer management and my previous experience with the Red Cross, I was excited at the potential research opportunities I might be able to develop in Turkey.
The one thing that worried me was that I could not find any volunteer-related information on the Red Crescent website. For my research with the Red Cross, I had relied on volunteer coordinators to serve as my primary organizational contacts. Unable to find such a person in Turkey, I directed my interview request to the organization’s general email address and then waited for a response. Several weeks went by and I had not heard from anyone. I sent a few follow up emails to other people identified on the chapter’s website (e.g., Human Resources, Donations Department) but never heard back. Months later when I was finally in Turkey, I decided to simply drop by the Red Crescent headquarters to see if I might find someone to interview.
I quickly learned why I never received a response to my email requests.
There was no one at the national headquarters responsible for organizing and training volunteers. The Red Crescent did have volunteers, but these people were not formally integrated into the larger organizational system. My interest in learning how volunteers were working with the displaced Syrians in Red Crescent camps was another non-sequitur request. Through my discussions with various officials, I learned that volunteers were not allowed to have any contact with the Syrians. As one staff member explained, the privacy and safety of these displaced people was of utmost importance. As such, only paid staff members could be trusted to work in the camps because they could be held accountable in ways volunteers could not. Rather than use volunteers, the organization had invested in a large number of paid employees who were trained and able to work on long-term assignments during disasters. None of the issues posed in my email were applicable to the goals or functions of the Turkish Red Crescent. As a result, no one responded to my note.
However, all was not lost. During the two days I spent visiting different Red Crescent offices in Turkey, I learned that people did volunteer for the organization but only at local chapters (not the national headquarters). There was a form people could fill out to indicate their interest in volunteering, but the link to this document was broken on the organization’s website, and no one in the national office could find a hard copy. One official confided to me that chapter employees often disliked working with volunteers because they were considered unreliable and did not fit into the formal organizational chart. As such, staff at local chapters had been known to unofficially discourage the involvement of volunteers in the organization’s day-to-day activities. The Red Crescent did rely upon spontaneous ← 4 | 5 → volunteers during crisis events (e.g., earthquakes, fires), but these volunteers were primarily locals who were not pre-trained or affiliated with the Red Crescent prior to the disaster. Moreover, after the emergency was under control, there was no evidence that the organization tried to remain in contact with these individuals for use in future events.
Everything I learned about volunteer involvement and management within the Turkish Red Crescent was counter to my experiences working with the American Red Cross. One of the primary goals of the American Red Cross is recruiting and retaining volunteers (Gossett & Smith, 2013). As a result, there are over a half million active Red Cross volunteers with 30,000 paid staff members, a 17:1 ratio of volunteers to employees (American Red Cross, 2011, p. 3). Volunteers are trusted to perform nearly all tasks necessary for the operation of the organization. On its website the American Red Cross notes that “we depend on volunteers like you” and claims that “volunteers constitute 94% of the total workforce needed to carry out our humanitarian work” (American Red Cross, 2014, p. 1).
In contrast, the Red Crescent Society of Turkey (Türk Kızılayı) reported having approximately 1,500 active volunteers and 1,600 paid staff members, a 1:1 ratio between employees and volunteers (Turkish Red Crescent Society, 2006). While volunteers are part of the organization, they do not play a central role in humanitarian programs such as disaster relief and community support. My observations of this organization are not unique. Other scholars have noted that the organization “has no policy for recruiting volunteers…Kizilay does not have the system of tools to register and motivate people who want to help as Kizilay volunteers” (Paker, 2004, p. 96). People who do volunteer are typically placed in the blood services department where they recruit donors or assist with youth programs (e.g., summer camps, health education) (Turkish Red Crescent Society, 2013).
It is also important to acknowledge that even if the Red Crescent had a volunteer program in place, the cultural norms in Turkey would make it difficult for them to recruit and retain participants. “Turkish citizens remain disconnected from the civil society movement…only 2.5% of citizens volunteer for social organisations, followed by a slightly higher rate of political volunteering at 4.5% (İçduygu, Meydanoğlu, & Sert, 2011, p. 70). As a point of comparison 26.8% Americans volunteered in 2011 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).
There are a variety of factors that limit formal volunteering in Turkey. For example, Turkey has the youngest overall population in Europe, with an average age of 29. The culture encourages people to work hard in order compete with the European Union and promote the Turkish economy in the global marketplace. As a result, people typically work six days a week for an average of 52 hours (Wozowczyk & Massarelli, 2011). Additionally, the country‘s political history has bred a distrust of formal institutions and Turkey has a small population of healthy retirees capable of active civic engagement (İçduygu, Meydanoğlu, & Sert, 2011) With ← 5 | 6 → respect to charitable giving, Turks tend to focus their philanthropic activity at the local level, making it difficult for NGOs to engage this population in formal, broad based volunteer programs.
On paper, the American Red Cross and the Turkish Red Crescent appear similar. They are both affiliates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, they both provide humanitarian relief in times of national crisis, and they both provide similar services (e.g., blood donation, emergency preparation, temporary shelters). A key difference between these two groups comes in the way each organization recruits and uses volunteers. Given the cultural norms of Turkey, it makes sense that the Red Crescent organized its programs around paid employees. People in Turkey just don’t volunteer the same way they do in the United States.
This experience provided me with the surprising realization that my understanding of volunteerism has been based entirely on my exposure to US-based programs. As a result, I had no way to make sense of the ways in which volunteers were used (or not used) by an organization so seemingly similar to ones I worked with in the United States. I needed to expand my understanding of volunteerism beyond the US context in order to understand what it means to volunteer in other cultures and communities.
To that end, this book was developed to help address a gap in the volunteer literature. It explores how volunteering in other countries is both similar and unique compared to volunteering in the United States. The studies included in this volume provide insight into volunteering within three different international and intercultural contexts, individuals from other countries volunteering, individuals from the United Sates volunteering in other countries, and individuals volunteering in their home country to serve a specific cultural or ethnic group, such as recent immigrants. The studies included in this book explore the ways in which different countries and cultures might impact what it means to be or communicate as a volunteer. In doing so, it expands our understanding of international and intercultural volunteerism and provides directions for future research.
In order to provide an introduction and overview of these contexts, this introductory chapter first addresses concepts and definitions associated with volunteerism. Next it explores some of the unique issues connected to international and intercultural service programs, including informal volunteering and embedded volunteering. It then examines how the political, economic, and historical contexts of countries influence the understanding and practice of volunteering in these regions. Finally, it ends with a preview of the studies included in this book. ← 6 | 7 →
Anheier and Salamon, (1999) argue that:
The birth of the modern volunteer movement outside the realm of the state (for example, volunteer armies and work corps), church (for example, laymen) and community (for example, mutual assistance and caring) is closely associated with the creation of the Red Cross in 1864. For more than 100 years, the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have pioneered volunteering and organized volunteers for humanitarian assistance, to alleviate suffering and poverty. (p. 45)
In the 20th century a number of other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gained prominence for promoting international volunteerism. Groups such as the US Peace Corps, the UK Voluntary Service Overseas Program, and France’s Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) mobilized citizens to work across national borders and provide assistance to people in developing countries. The United Nations increased global awareness of volunteerism by declaring 2001 to be the International Year of Volunteers (IYV).
The premise underlying IYV 2001 was that voluntary service makes an essential contribution in addressing problems in areas of social, economic, cultural, humanitarian and peace-building. For this to happen, there was a need for greater recognition and facilitation of volunteer work, more vigorous promotion of voluntary service, and networks to facilitate a drawing upon–the “best practice”–of volunteers. (United Nations Volunteers, 2011, p. 2)
The goal of this 2001 United Nations program was to bring member states and NGOs together to share resources and strategically promote volunteering across the global community. After 2001, the UN continued to support both domestic and international volunteering efforts in order to promote humanitarian aid distribution to underserved communities. In 2012, the United Nations Volunteer Program had sponsored nearly 7,000 volunteers, working in 127 different countries and 159 nationalities, and mobilized 57,000 local community volunteers throughout the world (United Nations Volunteers, 2012).
Rates of volunteer activity vary widely across the globe and different agencies do not always use the same metrics to calculate and compare levels of civic engagement between nations.2 That being said, these measures give researchers some perspective on the ways people volunteer within different countries and cultures. For example, a 2011 Gallup study of 130 countries found volunteering more common in wealthier and developed nations, with the highest percentage of people engaged in volunteering in Sri Lanka (46%), the United States (43%), New Zealand (39%), and the UK (28%). Countries with the lowest rates of volunteerism were the Balkans and Southern Europe (English, 2011, p. 1). A similar study of 27 European ← 7 | 8 → nations found the average rate of volunteerism was 20%. However Denmark, Finland, and Sweden all reported average participation rates of 45%. In contrast “Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain and the newest Member States–Bulgaria and Romania–the participation rate averages between 10% and 15%” (McCloughan, Batt, Costine, & Scully, 2011, p. 1).
The number of people involved with international volunteerism and their collective economic impact is significant. The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project studied data from 37 countries in 2004 and estimated that these international volunteer efforts made a $400 billion contribution to the global economy (International Labour Office, 2011). According to the Center for Social Development, over one million US citizens have reported volunteering internationally. Additionally, transnational organizations such as the European Volunteer Service Organization (EVS), the Centre for European Volunteers (CEV), and the United National Volunteers Program discussed above (UNV) all actively promote international service efforts. While women and retirees tend to volunteer more frequently in the United States, the same does not hold true for volunteers who serve abroad. Research in both the United States and Europe found that international volunteers tend to be white, young, males who are affluent, well-educated and who do not have dependent children (McBride & Lough, 2010; Sherraden, Lough, & McBride, 2008). International service programs may target particular demographic groups over others, resulting in this particular volunteer profile. These types of volunteer opportunities may be less available or attractive for more diverse populations. As such, it is important that scholars examine different cultural attitudes toward volunteerism to better understand why specific populations are not as inclined or able to volunteer in foreign communities.
Lesmeister, Rose, and Barnhart argue “Thousands of organizations worldwide are actively seeking and accepting foreign volunteers to assist with their program delivery and capacity development, yet there is a paucity of research on why organizations might bother seeking or accepting international volunteers in the first place” (2012, p. R15). Indeed, while getting people involved in world affairs through volunteerism may improve global well-being through the sharing of resources and information, these programs can also create problems in the regions where they serve. “Critics contend that [international volunteering and service] tends toward imperialism, reinforcing existing inequities” (Sherraden, Lough, McBride, 2008, p. 396). These scholars argue that volunteer programs can perpetuate social systems of inequality, dividing the helpers and those needing help into two distinct and separate populations. Rather than bringing communities together, outside assistance groups may create or reinforce social divides. It is therefore important for scholars to examine how volunteer efforts may function differently in various contexts. If volunteers are truly to be of service to others, they must ← 8 | 9 → understand how to work effectively within their host communities and appreciate different approaches to public service.
While the United Nations and various service groups have turned their attention to examining volunteerism at an international level, the same cannot be said of the academic community. “While people have created their own constructs of volunteering, which are inevitably culturally and socially specific, the dominant representation is of volunteering as the domain of the white middle-class middle-aged female who volunteers (out of altruistic concerns) in social care settings or charity shops” (Lukka & Ellis, 2001, p. 30). Cross-cultural comparisons of volunteer behavior has been criticized as viewed “through the lens of how the developing (and/or democratizing) country can create new civil society organizations, particularly those engaged in political advocacy, that resemble those found in the ‘advanced’ West” (Haddad, 2010, p. 34). Recognizing this pattern in the literature, scholars have argued for additional research focused on the unique challenges of international volunteering that is not necessarily based on US or Western European models (Lesmeister, Rose, & Barnhart, 2012).
DEFINITIONS OF VOLUNTEERING
To more fully understand volunteerism within international and intercultural contexts, it is important to first examine what it means to volunteer. The term “volunteer” is derived from the Latin voluntarius meaning “of one’s free will” and from the French word voluntaire used in the context of offering one’s service to the military. At the most basic level the term implies a person is freely giving him or herself to serve others or a larger cause. With respect to motivation, volunteerism is often described as an altruistic behavior performed for the benefit others, and without remuneration (Lewis, 2013; Wilson & Musick, 1997). Tilly and Tilly (1994) add that volunteer work is not only unpaid labor, but should also be performed on behalf of people the worker “owes no contractual, familial, or friendship obligations” (p. 291).
Scholars have acknowledged some people volunteer for reasons other than pure altruism. Volunteering may alternatively serve as a means to an end for the worker; a way to learn a skill, form new relationships, gather information about a potential career, or simply increase one’s social status (Jorgensen, 2013). This personal investment motivation moves the act of volunteering away from personal sacrifice and frames the behavior in transactional terms. While not compensated through money, some volunteers provide service in exchange for gaining skills, experience, or earning social capital within their home communities. Some people engage in volunteer work in order to promote a set of beliefs; religious missionaries are one such example. Anheier and Salamon (1999) note that “[m]issionary ← 9 | 10 → societies, religious orders, and other types of religious organizations have operated internationally for many centuries, particularly so since the early 1900s, carried by the evangelical revival movement that swept the United States and Europe at that time” (p. 45). In addition to providing their labor and resources, these mission-focused volunteers may be motivated to make changes in the communities they are serving (e.g., educational reforms, religious conversion). Mission-based volunteer programs can be particularly controversial, since one group’s community improvement program may be seen by others as an example of cultural insensitivity or domination. Regardless of the motivation, a common theme in these definitions is that volunteering is an activity people engage in outside their regular daily activities and interactions. To volunteer is to do something special or exceptional for the service of others.
Even when the meaning of volunteering is consistent across nations, the ways in which volunteering is organized and functions can vary significantly. As illustrated above, although the American Red Cross and the Turkish Red Crescent may share an understanding of what it means to be a volunteer, they have markedly different understandings of the value, organization, and appropriate use of this unpaid labor. Furthermore, most research focuses on behavior and programs consistent with Western definitions of volunteering, without considering the wide range of philanthropic and service-oriented activities that may be more typical in other cultures.
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- 2013 (July)
- variety home country research experiences immigrants
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 324 pp.