BorderLinks is a bi-national, non-profit organization working in education on the U.S./Mexico border through educational travel seminars, or delegations, for participants arriving primarily from the United States and Canada. The majority of the educational programming done by BorderLinks revolves around delegations, designed to encourage reflection and provoke action regarding issues in immigration.
In the past year, BorderLinks has been receiving an increased amount of requests for volunteer opportunities ranging from one to two months in length at the Nogales, Sonora, Mexico site. Currently, BorderLinks has no system in place to handle volunteer requests and no established roles for volunteer work. Simply designing a volunteer program based on the needs of would-be participants does not capture the bi-national, egalitarian mission of BorderLinks. The program must not only benefit participants, but also BorderLinks as a facilitating organization and placement site, as well as local Nogales organizations that could possibly serve as placement sites. A thorough needs assessment, taking into account the complexities of culture and all involved parties, offers concrete data that will ultimately strengthen the design of a program to be a more likely successful program.
This needs assessment was designed using a mixed methodology to capture both qualitative and quantitative information. After collecting and organizing the pre-existing information, a questionnaire was developed for interested participants and local organizations as an initial contact. Next, interviews with more open-ended questions were designed for local organizations and within the BorderLinks organization. After administering the interviews, data was collected, analyzed, and prioritized to inform the design of a volunteer program. From this data, a summer program offering volunteer positions filling organizational gaps was created.
International and Comparative Education
Heath, Theresa, "BorderLinks Volunteer Program: Creating a Mutually Beneficial Design" (2008). Capstone Collection. 1044.