Publication Date

1997

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Paul Ventura

Abstract

I was a volunteer in Central America for nearly a year, serving an NGO in Honduras. During this time, I personally experienced a lot of problems at work, which were similarly experienced by other volunteers in the same as well as other organizations. Thus, I decided to investigate what lay in between the NGOs and the expatriate volunteers. What were and what caused the conflicts? How did the NGOs manage and provide for the needs of the volunteers? What treatment did the volunteers receive at work? In this study, I carried out taped, face to face interviews with more than thirty volunteers and their supervisors using open ended questions at NGOs in Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as Malaysia. These interviews were carried out after successful networking with a number of NGOs. The NGOs where the volunteers and supervisors were included children's rights organizations in Latin America, environmental projects in the mountains of Costa Rica and US Peace Corps. The findings from my study suggested that the unhappiness experienced by the volunteers came from the inadequate orientation they received, the ineffective communication given to them and the inappropriate treatment the volunteers received from the local staff at work, possibly due to the insufficient orientation the local staff received about having volunteers at the NGO. The information gained will enable other NGOs in the future to improve their volunteer management methods while at the same time prepare the volunteers for some rather unexpected situations.

Disciplines

International and Intercultural Communication

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