Volunteerism

Liz Jackson, "Bridging Cultures: American Volunteers' Experiences as Educators in Mainland China," Faculty Research Fund, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong (HK$29,520) (2012-2013).

This project includes:
  • Volunteer questionnaires to better understand educational differences between the United States and China
  • Comparative questionnaires to understand differences in experiences of United States Volunteers by region and organization abroad

Volunteerism and philanthropy is a new area of inquiry for me. In the past I have volunteered in a variety of settings. I interned for one summer in rural Mexico, to evaluate the possibilities for an exchange program between Portland State University and the Indigenous Cultural Center in Huehuetla. I also gutted houses in New Orleans' ninth ward the Christmas after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the neighborhood. 

My husband Tim during Science Week in South Africa
My major experience volunteering was with the United States Peace Corps in South Africa. (If you are curious to know more about my service, my official description of service is here.) This was a growing experience for me, and no walk in the park! Trying to lead workshops to school leaders in communities where indoor plumbing is a luxury is an interesting trial. It led me to ask a lot of questions:
  • How much does volunteerism help so-called recipients, versus the volunteers? 
  • In whose interest is volunteerism and philanthropy? 
  • How effective are development programs and projects as means of improving lives in disadvantaged areas?
  • What conceptions of humanity, citizenship, and ethics are present in the mindset of volunteers and philanthropists?
  • What can volunteer experiences teach us about cross-cultural differences in professional settings?

Stay posted for articles forthcoming related to these inquiries.