Every year over one hundred thousand American students travel the world to participate in study and volunteer abroad programs. There are many different types of these programs – each offering their own level of community engagement and voice. Many of these programs operate by focusing solely on the student experience and rarely consider the important value and sacrifice of the communities they work in. Still others engage community leaders and organizations they operate in, but still fail to recognize the importance and power of a mutual learning partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect.
Modeled after our partnership in Jamaica, Fair Trade Learning recognizes that the individuals and communities that host students and volunteers are uniquely impacted by visitors and should be offered fair working conditions and compensation, hold significant voice in the orchestration of programming, and be offered proper professional development opportunities.
Amizade enacts the Fair Trade Learning model of study and volunteering abroad by:
- Engaging only in community-driven development, in which community leaders and organizations help decide the terms of foreign student projects in their communities.
- Encouraging and opening classes for local students to audit, free of charge.
- Offering fair compensation to all of those who make study and volunteer abroad programs possible, including guides, drivers, homestay families, cooks, and community organizations; and
- Working to offer partially or fully subsidized opportunities for individuals in our communities abroad to engage in service-learning programs in the United States.
Fair trade learning recognizes that the flow of learning and service doesn’t have to be a one-way stream. It also considers that individuals in the communities where study and volunteer abroad programs take place deserve similarly empowering experiences as those who take part in these programs. Fair Trade Learning transforms the classroom into an engine of change, not only for the visitors, but also for those who host programs.
By facilitating a free flow of service and learning across borders, Amizade will be able to truly empower individuals and communities, transforming even more lives through intercultural immersion, understanding, and learning.