Organization: Fundacion Popol Na
Location: Managua, Nicaragua
Exploring Host Community and Partner NGO Assessments of International Volunteer Programs in Nicaragua
This study contributes to a newly emerging discussion in the literature on host community perceptions by providing an empirical case study conducted with a host community in rural Nicaragua, Santa Catarina, about the perceived developmental impacts of international volunteer programs. I found 1) people in the host community assessed the programs positively for the material and social benefits 2) the partnership with the partner NGOs to be perceived positively, and 3) people in Santa Catarina to be active agents in their own development through the women’s agricultural cooperative and building strong levels of social capital. My study adds to the literature additional findings on the contribution of the programs to foster community identity, social bonding and place making. Volunteer programs vary significantly, making it difficult to generalize about their impact. To critically assess volunteer programs they must be contextualized, understanding the character of the host community and partner NGOs.