Transnational Solidarity Histories in International Service Learning: A Nicaraguan Case Study

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Background: Critical literature examining international service learning does not examine the historical formations or expectations and experiences of hosts in depth. Most studies focus on either a critical examination of colonial or imperial history or a wide analysis of host perceptions without the same critical attention to history. Purpose: The research reported in this article focuses on the experiences and histories of Nicaraguan hosts in international service learning. Methodology: The research includes a qualitative case study and draws on in-depth interviews with 21 Nicaraguan hosts. The research was conducted in 2014 and 2015 as a part of a larger study which also included volunteers. Findings: Nicaraguans who participated in international service learning did so with intentional outcomes that are shaped through Nicaraguan histories of transnational solidarity. This intentional participation meant that programming was cultivated with the hopes for politicized learning outcomes. Implications: International service learning is a complex and problematic pedagogy as has been well documented in the literature. Seeking to understand, however, the motivations and expectations of hosts as contextualized in their own historical formations, cultures and desires can provide alternative frameworks and imagining for international service learning practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-508
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experiential Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec. 2022


  • global service learning
  • international service learning
  • nicaragua
  • solidarity
  • volunteer abroad


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