How International Volunteering Supports the Development of Ambition in Young People: A Pilot Study of European Young People whom Conducted Volunteer Service in Bali, Indonesia.

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How International Volunteering Supports the Development of Ambition in Young People: A Pilot Study of European Young People whom Conducted Volunteer Service in Bali, Indonesia.

Many youth projects aim to empower and support the development of young people to be confident active members of society (DfE 2011). To achieve this, I would argue that young people need to be motivated to become ambitious.

Numerous youth projects can be very effective at this, but I would like to investigate if international projects are particularly strong at achieving this. International youth projects cover a wide variety of actions from exchanges, training, volunteering, etc. For this investigation, I will focus on volunteering.

Overseas volunteering has become a desirable educational opportunity that young people want to explore. However, international volunteering also comes with the stigma that overseas volunteering is just a vacation or even damaging, (Birrell 2010). On the other side, like all types of educational programmes quality will vary dependent on the placement, projects and support volunteers receive.

However, because the placements are international, the volunteers are in a consistent place of challenge. Being challenged on values such as time perception, power distance and individualism to name a few (Hofstede 1984c), as well as learning cultural competency skills to engage with locals on their projects. Despite the frustration that can come with these challenges, international projects are still able to motivate young people through the projects they work on whether they are achieved or not.

Both Sirota s Three-Factor Theory (2005) and McClelland s Human Motivation Theory (1961) argue that achievement is a key factor in motivation. Whereas Amabile and Kramer’s Progress Theory (2011) argue that, even failure can lead to feelings of motivation and ambition. One of the world s largest volunteer organisations VSO stated,
A person engaged in volunteering benefits from increased
self-confidence in their power as an individual to influence
change and inspire others . (VSO)

The work I am engaged in has been hosting and sending volunteers for the last 2 years. On average, as an organisation, we have witnessed great changes in the development of ambition and motivation in these young people. This investigation wants to explore if overseas volunteer placement did: a) develop the sense of ambition, and if so, b) does this have the potential for many others to benefit from this process. Numerous research seems to exist about the benefits of volunteering to its communities, social cohesion or the skills and confidence the volunteers developed, but little seems to exist about international volunteering contribution to the development of ambition.

Research aims and objectives:

Identify why young people chose international volunteering over national volunteering
Identify if volunteering increase the feelings of motivation and ambition, and would this have been the same if they volunteered locally
Identify if any specific factors contributed to the developed feeling of ambition
If ambition has been achieved as a result of the project, how this has then effected the lives of these volunteers

Data will be collected using semi-structured interviews. Interviews will be semi-structured to allow a more in-depth questioning to points that may arise through the interviews. The research is looking to gather qualitative data, as it is believed that the subject matter is about feelings and emotions. Therefore a qualitative approach is favoured.

Interviews will be conducted online via Skype, as all participants are located in different countries. Interviews will be recorded and transcripts made for further data analysis. Data will be stored in password-protected files and hard copies will be locked in a filing cabinet. After the study all will be deleted and destroyed.

Surrounding data to support the study will be collected via online research and literature reviews.

Recruitment of sample
The sample is based form ex-volunteers known to the organisation I work for. They will be contacted via social media to ask if they would like to participate.

Sample Details

1 female from Spain mid 20 s
1 Female from Estonia mid 20 s
1 Male from Italy mid 20 s

Size of Sample
3 participants have been chosen based on their similarity in age, educational and life experiences. This sample was chosen due to their similarity of placement and starting points.


January – Ethical approval form and research proposal to be considered by DMU ethics board.
Early February – Promotion for research to potential research population
Early/ Mid February – Collection and analysis of data from the research population.
Mid February – Write up of data and report
26th February – Submission of assignment


Amabile, T and Kramer, S (2011) The Progress Principle.” In [Accessed 4th Jan 2016]

DfE Department for Education (2011) Positive about Youth. In [Accessed 4th Jan 2016]

Hofstede, G (1984c), Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. (Abridged Edition), Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Birrell, I (2010) Before you pay to volunteer abroad, think of the harm you might do. In [Accessed 4th Jan 2016]

McClelland, D (1961) The Achieving Society. In [Accessed 4th Jan 2016]

Sirota, D (2005) The Enthusiastic Employee. In [Accessed 4th Jan 2016]

Voluntary Service Overseas. Why is volunteering important [Accessed 4th Jan 2016]


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