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Good Works in Central America: Interrogating North American Voluntary Service
Thursday, May 03, 2012, 09:00am
To Friday, May 04, 2012
Mershon Center
1501 Neil Ave
Columbus, OH, 43201

Katey Borland

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Keynote presentation by Father Fernando Cardenal
"Priest in the Revolution: A Lifetime of Service to Youth in Poverty"
Thursday, May 3
4:30 - 6 p.m.

Open Forum on International Service
Friday, May 4
2 - 5 p.m.
We invite students, faculty and staff contemplating or experienced in international volunteering to contribute their insights and uncertainties to our conversation.  Beginning with a "thought experiment" on hosting and volunteering, we will facilitate an open discussion/reflection on concepts of dependency, sustainability, risk, cross-class and cross-cultural interactions, and empowerment. 

Katherine Borland, Associate Professor of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University

Please register for the keynote presentation by visiting Eventbrite.
To RSVP for the conference, email Kyle McCray at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Short-term delegations to Central America for the purpose of providing material aid, assisting with grassroots development, or offering direct service have proliferated in the last four decades.

This conference critically examines travel-for-service and the micro-politics of encounters between privileged visitors (professionals, politically motivated groups, service-learning programs) and impoverished third-world communities they visit, as well as the larger implications of poverty relief efforts organized outside of and sometimes in opposition to existing national and international institutions. Such projects promise solutions to seemingly entrenched problems in poorer nations through virtuous vigorous action. Yet in actuality, the dynamics of cosmopolitan interaction are complex.

This conference will provide an opportunity for students and faculty interested or already engaged in international service to reflect upon their motives, practices, and experiences and to consider not only their immediate accomplishments but the longer-term implications of the kind of citizen-diplomacy they aspire to enact.

The keynote speaker, Nicaragua's Father Fernando Cardenal, has committed his life to direct service to the poor within the framework of a religious vocation and training, more specifically, liberation theology. In 1980, he directed Nicaragua's National Literacy Crusade, an internationally acclaimed voluntary effort to teach reading and writing to rural and underserved populations, organized through the revolutionary state as a nationalist project.

The academic speakers come from a variety of positions within the university but share a concern for reflection and the identification of "best practices." They have all either volunteered with or facilitated volunteer missions/delegations.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

9 a.m. -- Katherine Borland (Comparative Studies, Ohio State), Welcome: A Social History of International Volunteering in Central America
9:50 a.m. -- Steven Jones (Civic Engagement, U of Scranton), Service as Praxis: Integrating Service Learning with Study Abroad
10:40 a.m. -- Walter Hull (Medicine, Ohio State), Medical Missions: Embracing the Public Health Challenge
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. -- Lunch Break
1 p.m. -- Irene King (Center for Social Justice, Villanova University), Alternative Spring Break
1:50 p.m. -- Abigail Adams (Anthropology, Central Connecticut State), Voluntary Mission as Pilgrimage
2:40 p.m. --  Closing Remarks
3-4:30 p.m. -- Break
4:30-6 p.m. -- Father Fernando Cardenal, Priest in the Revolution: A Lifetime of Service to Youth in Poverty

Friday, May 4, 2012

9 a.m. -- William Westerman (American Folklife Center Green Fellow), Hospitality and the Fabric of Solidarity: The Lessons of Sanctuary
9:50 a.m. -- Ellen Moodie (Anthropology, U of Illinois), Untellable Stories and the Limits of Solidarity in a Sister Community Relationship in El Salvador
10:40 a.m. -- David Muñoz (Engineering, Colorado School of Mines), Seeking Community; Colinas de Suiza, Honduras
11:30 a.m. -- Jefferson Boyer (Anthropology, Appalachian State), International students and volunteers amidst rising violence: challenges from Honduras
12:20-2 p.m. -- Lunch
2-5 p.m. -- Open Forum on International Volunteering
5 p.m. -- Dinner and conversation

Mershon Center for International Security Studies
International Poverty Solutions Collaborative
Literacy Studies
Center for Latin American Studies
Center for Folklore Studies
Department of Comparative Studies
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Service-Learning Initiative


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