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Lessons from a Sapling


Lessons from a Sapling? Review of Research on Short-term Missions, Study Abroad ... This study concludes that the sojourn experience showed no relationship to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Lessons from a Sapling

Lessons from a Sapling?
  • Review of Research on Short-term Missions, Study
    Abroad and Service-Learning
  • Kurt Alan Ver Beek
  • kverbeek_at_calvin.edu

  • What is the impact of Short-term missions?
  • In the lives of the Short-termers?
  • In the communities that they visit?
  • In the sponsoring organizations?
  • Over 4 million people last year/4 billion spent
  • Lots of help and opened eyes? or
  • Lots of dependency and wasted millions?

My STM research
  • Impact of STMs on North Americans and Hondurans
  • Hurricane Mitch 1998, 5,000 dead, 1.5 million
    homeless/displaced, international sympathy
  • Christian International Development Organization
    (CIDO) built over 1,000 homes
  • 175 volunteers worked on over 30 homes
  • The rest built by local Christian NGOs
  • What was the impact on the volunteers, the
    families/communities and the organizations?

Impact on Hondurans
  • Methodology we visited 6 regions of Honduras and
    interviewed over 80 new home-owners, ½ of their
    homes were built by STM groups and ½ by NGOs
    (control group) as well as over 15 employees of 7
    Christian NGOs
  • Impact of STM group No notable difference
    between familiesSTMs recipients and local orgs
  • All grateful and lives changed
  • No notable difference between groups in
    spiritual lifecloser but not different,
    satisfaction, ownership, volunteerism, repayment,

All the Same?
  • A LOT of difference between NGOslong-term
    strategy and methodology ARE important
    (spirituality, motivation, repayment...)
  • Some communities motivated, repaying,
    empoweredOther communities complaining, no one
    paying, bickering
  • STM or Money? Ummmm....it would be better to
    send money so that we can help MORE families, but
    we value the relationship.
  • Great need and jobs vs. relationships, change
    participants and bridges

  • House is very important, not who built it
  • Value added by STM in Honduran community is
  • NGO strategy is very important
  • Hondurans value the group but if they could
    choose, they would help more needy people

Impact on North Americans
  • Surveyed 162 (127 respond78) North Americans
    who built houses in Honduras after Hurricane
    Mitch, plus follow-up phone interviews and CIDO
  • We wanted to know if STM led to lasting change
    were STMers praying more, giving more money,
    volunteering more in their churches (11 factors)
  • About 16 report a significant positive change,
    45 a slight positive change and 40 same
  • Higher in intangible areas and lower in tangible

Self-reported Giving after STM
Giving Reported by CIDO
  • Individuals
  • 60 responded that giving to CIDO increased
    significantly or somewhat
  • Only 25 gave a direct donation after STM
  • From 31 to 33 or from 169 to 179 total
    givingincrease of only 6
  • 17 Churches
  • Average went up 1, 6 increased y 11 went down
  • Raises questions about self-reports in other areas

NA Attitudes
  • Aware of Poverty
  • They are happy despite...
  • More conscious of the world...
  • Importance of relationships (76 had not stayed
    in contact)

Questions and Conclusions
  • Why didnt donations go up? Common or fluke?
  • Hard to change people? Hondurans and Gringos?
  • Hondurans really happy in poverty?

Literature Review
  • Short-term missions, Study Abroad and
  • Similarities service, overseas, learning,
  • Self-reported changeall good
  • Externally verifiable measures
  • Pre and post-tests (w/ or w/o control)
  • Post-test with control group
  • Secondary data sourcegiving, career choice

Short-term missions
  • 11 studies fit criteria
  • 8 of the 11 found very little or no significant
    change in participants
  • No Change Beers (1999)
  • 171 students from Taylor University
  • 72 who participated in school-sponsored one-month
    STMs during January Term and 99 who stayed on
    campus at that time
  • Both groups were given the Faith Maturity Scale,
    and the Growth in Mature Faith Index.
  • No significant differences found

STM continued
  • No Change Purvis (1993)
  • 79 short-term volunteers from the 38 churches
    visiting Kenya over 12 years
  • 76 claimed that their missions giving had
    either increased greatly or some
  • 11 years of records from these 38 churches
    mission giving had increased by 66.8 from 1981
    until 1992 but STM had no relation to membership
  • Adjusting for inflation, giving increased only 7
    over 11 years or 0.7 a year (paid ½ expenses)

Study Abroad and Service-Learning
  • 57 studies fit criteria
  • 26 found no significant change, 8 mixed and 23
    significant positive change
  • No change ( Study Abroad--Hansel, 1985)
  • 1,100 exchange students who participated in AFS,
    and a comparison group of 160 adolescents who
    were accepted to participate but withdrew
  • This study concludes that the sojourn experience
    showed no relationship to personal growth and
    development (though participants believed it did)

Mixed Results8 studies
  • Mixed (Study Abroad--Juhasz and Walker,1987)
  • 70 undergraduates in study abroad program for a
    semester compared with 19 counterparts at the US
  • Pre- and post-tests were administered to both
  • As expected, at completion of the time abroad,
    students inc in their perceptions of their
    ability to perform specific behaviors
  • But the US-based students had significantly
    greater increases in self-esteem and
    self-efficacy than students who lived abroad.

Significant Positive Change
  • Significant Positive Change (12 of 26)
  • Eyler and Giles (1999)
  • pre and post test to 1100 students in
    service-learning and 400 control group
  • 20 universities in the US
  • found that service-learning had a positive impact
    on student outcomes including personal
    development, social responsibility, interpersonal
    skills, tolerance and stereotyping, learning and
    applications of learning.

My program
  • 9 years Semester in Hondurasfocused on social
  • 20 years working in Central America for social
  • Compare development, Spanish and interim students
    to Calvin alumni and SJC alumni (in process)
  • Compare freshmen/senior surveys of Honduras
    alumni vs. avg alumni (in process)

Preliminary Results

Preliminary Results
Preliminary Reflection
  • Clear bias toward social justice
  • Much of difference easily explainable by
    pre-existing biases
  • Not much difference in other areas (time
    volunteering, giving,)
  • Need comparison to general alumni, matched
    control and fresh/senior surveys
  • Interesting 14 completely changed friends vs.
    5 and 3

Analysis and Future Research
  • Why diff between qualitative and quantitative
  • Real change but difficult to measure
  • Perceived change much larger than real
  • Why such differences between quantitative
  • Need to look deeper (Purvis)?
  • Quality of studymatched controls, triangulation,
  • Some programs cause more change than others?

Tentative Conclusion 1
  • Hondurans really happy in poverty?
  • NAs should be less materialistic?
  • Are Hondurans happy?
  • NAs dont need to feel guilty or act?
  • Are STMs really seeing lives of the poor?

Tentative Conclusion 2
  • Change is difficultfor NAs and Honduran
  • Before fragile and impressionable
  • Now more like saplings
  • We all know that change is difficult, one week
    seldom changes people or communities... (retreat,
    summer camp...)
  • I believe key is follow-up accountability and

  • How can we increase the impact of STMs?
  • To change communities long-term work of
    organizations is best strategy, STM can be a
    small part
  • If we want to change NAs STM trip alone not
    enough, What we do before and during but
    especially after (monthly meetings, newsletters,
    support and accountability groups)
  • If we want to increase support STM trip alone
    not enough, requires follow-up and hard work
  • Hope STMs is evidence that NAs want to change
    communities and themselves

Lessons from a Sapling?
  • Review of Research on Short-term Missions, Study
    Abroad and Service-learning
  • Kurt Alan Ver Beek
  • kverbeek_at_calvin.edu
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