A Critical Exploration of Poverty Reduction and Boys' Engagement in Overseas Social Justice Programmes — Nick Baff, St. Kevin's College, Australia

  • Global Citizenship (2015-16)

A group of boys traveling to Vietnam to participate in a social justice program that focused on community development undertook a pre-departure program designed to challenge existing beliefs about the nature of such programs and the broader issues related to poverty alleviation in developing countries. The pre-departure program was intended to foster critical engagement, with questions relating to the effectiveness and impact of such programs, and the manner in which they are consistent with the boys’ role as global citizens.

The boys involved were required to undertake a program of reflective writing and group discussion that allowed them to engage with multiple, contradictory, and often challenging perspectives and criticisms of such projects. Analysis of the boys’ responses demonstrated the extent to which the process elicited a degree of confusion and disruption to their existing understanding of the issue, as well as a consequent construction of increasingly sophisticated and nuanced knowledge. Findings from this project provide guidance about the manner in which boys traveling to developing countries to undertake social justice programs can be prepared intellectually and emotionally for the challenging experiences that they will encounter.