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The Asian Experience of International Service Learning: Three Case Studies from City-Youth Empowerment Project

Activity: Talk/lecture or presentationTalk/lecture

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International service-learning programs (or ISL programs in short), grounded under the Transformative learning theory, have long shown promising results in enhancing college students’ development. However, in recent years, scholars have begun to take notice of the number of conceptual and methodological deficiencies that the ISL body of research stuffers from. This study serves to remedy this void by adopting a quasi-experimental design in understanding the developmental benefits accrued by college students who joined one of three ISL programs (Yangon, Mandalay, and Cambodia). The study, more specifically, sought to understand the role of service settings and social context to the transformative process.

The three ISL trips, two to Myanmar (N = 9 to Mandalay; N = 10 to Yangon) and one to Cambodia (N = 13 to Phnom Penh), was found to help volunteers increase their understanding of social issues (social self-efficacy), personal insight (political awareness), and cognitive development (communication, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving skills). There were shared benefits observed as well as case-specific benefits found from the results. Suggestions on empowering college students, tackling their emotional aspects, and adopting a non-hierarchical relationship proved to be beneficial in facilitating college students to transform. Further suggestions on practices and research were discussed.

Research Unit / Event Journal/Book Series


TitleThe 6th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Service-Learning
LocationPetra Christian University
Degree of recognitionInternational event