University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > FERSA Lunchtime Sessions > How do young Canadians understand (their) privilege and (others') poverty in the context of an international volunteer experience?

How do young Canadians understand (their) privilege and (others') poverty in the context of an international volunteer experience?

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I seek to investigate how a group of Canadian secondary school students understand their identities in the context of a short-term international volunteering experience in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Through narrative inquiry – including semi-structured interviews and photo-elicitation – this qualitative study explores how six similarly-situated youth (all identified as white, female and residents of Toronto) make meaning of their social locations while travelling within an unfamiliar context overseas. In particular, I will explore the ways in which participants’ understandings of their social locations challenged and/or shifted through the experience of being in an unfamiliar context, as well as how participants understand, take up, or resist notions of their own privilege. Initial findings suggest that participants’ encounters with poverty were seen as threatening, and participants negotiated this anxiety by reframing impoverished communities as ‘poor but happy’. These narratives provide a glimpse into the defensive processes that are utilised when young people holding majority social positions face uncomfortable situations or conflicts within the self.

This talk is part of the FERSA Lunchtime Sessions series.

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