III Country Studies
Global Solidarity: Learning from Volunteer Frameworks in Peru
Susan Appe, Nadia Rubaii, and Kerry Stamp
Identifying effective solutions for persistent public and social problems is on the agenda for policymakers and community leaders across the world. In a world of increasing interdependencies and complexities, so-called “wicked problems” (Rittel & Webber, 1973) demand collaboration among levels of government, across sectors, and among people and institutions in nations throughout the world; progress in social development demands a level of solidarity because no individual or institution possesses sufficient capacities alone. Prominent scholars, particularly in community development literature, have called for a shift in our understanding of social development and the actors and institutions involved, calling for better acknowledgement of local knowledge and institutions (Eversole, 2012; Gaventa, 2005 ; Villalba, Jubeto, & Guridi, 2013) . Within this expanded notion of social development, volunteers are important actors and thus volunteer frameworks are potentially important institutions. Volunteerism is recognized as a “powerful and cross-cutting means of implementation” which “can help to expand and mobilize constituencies and to engage people in national planning and implementation for sustainable development goals” (United Nations General Assembly, 2014, p. 27, para 131). Similarly, volunteer groups have been recognized for their contribution to shaping the development agenda at national and local levels and promoting greater and different forms of “interactions between governments and people for concrete and scalable actions” (United Nations General Assembly, 2015, p. 4, para 5).
This chapter examines a relationship bridged by two frameworks of volunteering: Southern grassroots women’s associations in Peru, South America, and an international service learning (ISL) program administered by a Northern university in the United States. More specifically, we expand on the work of Porter and Monard (2001) in their application of Andean reciprocity, or ayni in the indigenous language of Quechua, to the volunteer framework of international service learning. By analyzing these forms of volunteering and their relationship, we ask, how can different institutional forms of volunteering together promote global solidarity?
Northern perspectives on volunteering in developing countries have evolved over time with an increasingly critical eye toward ethical and effective strategies for development. Scholars have warned of volunteering practices that may do more harm than good due to objectification of a host community or a lack of true collaboration between volunteer and partner organizations (Baker-Boosamra, Guevara, & Balfour, 2006; Crabtree, 2008). As we pursue our analysis, we acknowledge that volunteering needs to be contextualized as it varies across location and time. However, we are informed by the United Nations Volunteers and Independent Sector (2001). Our understanding is that volunteering does not have financial reward, that there is no coercion and the voluntary action is indeed voluntary (i.e., what the International Labour Organization, 2011 calls “unpaid noncompulsory work”), and that there is benefit to someone beyond the volunteer.
The context in which we examine volunteer frameworks consists of a partnership between Southern women community volunteers from grassroots associations and Northern university volunteers working alongside each other as part of a government food assistance program called Comedores Populares. We start the chapter by defining solidarity and discussing its significance to the study of volunteering, particularly within a North-South context. We then present the two frameworks of volunteering—Andean ayni and international service learning—surfacing their commonalities and differences, and contextualize them in Peru. The specifics of the project, referred to as the Peru Program, are presented. The question proposed here is to what extent is solidarity achieved, through these efforts by Southern women community volunteers and Northern university volunteers, in which the volunteering frameworks of Andean ayni and progressive approaches to international service learning (grounded in mutuality and reciprocity) are brought together?
Action research informs our findings and analysis of the frameworks and their contributions toward global solidarity. Finally, lessons learned and conclusions address the extent to which the two frameworks together are able to contribute to global solidarity in a way that perhaps neither functioning alone would be able to accomplish.