HUMILITY: “FALSE EXPECTATION ON THE PART OF THE STUDENT THAT THEY ARE HERE TO HELP TEACH SOMETHING”

Repeatedly, the community organization representatives described the importance of humility in this work and in ISL partnerships. One community organization representative offered words of advice for those entering into ISL partnerships,

So, be humble and recognize that there is work happening here. People know, they know how to implement, that people don’t need to go to Villanova University, they don’t need to go to Cuba, they don’t need to go to Venezuela, to have knowledge . . . it is knowledge without big technical words, but they have knowledge.

Community organization representatives described a transition in students as one of their goals for student learning. One comment in particular describes a desired shift from “knowing” to “not knowing” and humility in students,

If you come here with an attitude that I’m a big bad engineer and I have all this knowledge and I’m going to come here and help all these people. I hope these experiences kind of change that perspective a little bit in that they see the difficulties of working in this kind of context. That in spite of formal education, you don’t necessarily have all the answers, and I hope the experience can be kind of humbling.

Another community organization representative provided a cautionary example from past experiences with students from the university,

You have to be careful about the manner in which you enter other countries especially if we are talking about “developing countries” then . . . you can create a false expectation on the part of the student that they are there to teach something . . . it seems to me that the example is [X] who arrived with the idea that he was here to help and not to learn. So, I think it was important to turn that upside down and orient the student.

Alongside humility, the authors heard a call for students and international volunteers recognize and acknowledge their own complicity in past relations as a means to pursue ethical engagement. An understanding of history, culture, and politics represents a means to understand complicity.

 
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