Volunteer tourism as service learning in Kenya

Authors: Ellen Hansen*, Emporia State University
Topics: Geography Education, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Experiential learning, volunteer tourism, study abroad
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8210, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper reports on a service-learning course that took students from Emporia State University to a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Nairobi, Kenya, in summer 2011. The intent of the paper is to explore the different expectations and experiences of the participants and use these to draw conclusions about how study abroad serves to enhance student learning. The paper draws upon the journals kept by members of the team that traveled to Nairobi; participants’ subsequent postings on social media sites (Facebook in particular); and on individual conversations during and after the trip. I examine the potential impacts of this type of educational travel on students and on the host country, the role and ethics of short-term volunteers, and the efficacy of such service-learning trips for both the students and the receiving community. The students generally agreed the trip was worthwhile, but some had doubts about the value of the experience and any long-term impacts it may have had.

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