Community-based learning initiatives, including service-learning, have taken on a cross-national context, in this case placing groups of US American students into Mexican communities in which to gain knowledge, experience and understanding. In this context partnerships are formed among organizations of differing needs and perspectives. Often the international service-learning organization (ISLO) initiates these partnerships on both sides, with the U.S. sending institution and with the international community leaders, thus stretching itself between the two. “The dualism implied here, living simultaneous commitments to students and local communities, presents both challenges and opportunities.” (Community Links leader, field notes). The following pages explore those challenges, including conflicting agendas, and seek opportunities within a social framework, employing a collaborative process model. The literature suggests that for collaboration to begin each party must be clear on the roles, goals and desired outcomes. This is the first step of many needed in order for mutuality to emerge from within international service-learning partnerships, creating sustainable programs. In this capstone conflicting agendas are identified and perceived roles are explored through a case study of two ISLOs in Oaxaca, Mexico.


International and Comparative Education