Learning by Doing: Stories from the ‘Sites of Development'
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: LINKING ACADEMIA WITH DEVELOPMENT AID AND EFFECTIVENESS, Tahmina Rashid, Jason Flanagan, eds., Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing, pp. 112-135, ISBN 978-3-8443-8072-9, 2011
15 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 21, 2011
Thousands of paid internees and volunteers paying their own way leave their academic institutions, work, family and friends as well as their comfort zones to work with communities and organisations across the globe, usually in the South. Some work for life, others during the academic breaks, and a good number of them are doing such work as part of their education and a pathway to a career in the development sector. They bring back fascinating stories to share with peers, friends and families; they post comments on Facebook and blogs; and they document their learning experiences for their sponsors and academic institutions to get credit and to highlight this work on their CVs when they seek work in NGOs and INGOs or the public service. Then there is the ‘feel good’ factor in helping those ‘in need’ and advocating on behalf of these communities at various forums. However, in the stories of these field experiences, host communities and organisations are rarely mentioned and their input continues to be missing from these narratives as the emphasis remains on the non-altruistic and rewarding nature of this work for the volunteers and internees. The rewards for communities are hardly ever identified, apart from photos with locals and glowing accounts of shared happiness or lifelong friendships forged. This chapter attempts to deconstruct some of these narratives to understand ‘learning by doing’ and the role it may play in our understanding of essential work experience. This chapter examines the taxonomy of internships/volunteer work in the context of development studies in Australia.
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