International volunteers demonstrate that development practice is not the sole reserve of professional development workers. As actors conducting unofficial development work, defined as those who do not follow guidelines developed by the development industry and who do not have training in international development, international volunteers contribute to different understandings of development and foreign aid. Looking beyond volunteers' impact on the host country during the actual volunteer experience, this dissertation examines how international volunteers engage with the host country after completing their volunteer assignment and the development implications for the host country. Interview and survey data gathered from alumni of an international volunteer program in Vietnam operated by the nonprofit organization Volunteers in Asia (VIA) reveal four categories by which to classify former volunteers' engagement. These categories--committed contributors, default participants, potential contributors, and indifferent abstainers---reflect the former volunteers' interest and their actual involvement in activities that contribute to Vietnam's socioeconomic development. Due to their continued linkages to people and processes in Vietnam, committed contributors and default participants represent a source of social capital for their former host country. Potential contributors, or those who are interested in contributing to Vietnam's development but have no record of involvement since their volunteer assignment, embody a potential source of social capital for Vietnam. The indifferent abstainers have little interest in partaking in Vietnam's development; consequently, they may not be considered an immediate source of social capital for Vietnam. The study reveals that the unofficial development practiced by international volunteers is centered on relationships, and through those connections between former volunteers and Vietnamese nationals flow goodwill, knowledge and skills, and money. Rather than manifesting as structural changes in Vietnam, the development undertaken by international volunteers brings personal transformations for the volunteers and the people with whom they interact.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisors: Joan DeJaeghere, Gerald Fry. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 176 pages.
Beyond the International Volunteering Experience: Former Volunteers as Practitioners of Unofficial Development in Vietnam.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.