This study examines the experiences of Canadian undergraduate students who have completed an International Experiential Learning (IEL) trip in Uganda. Through qualitative pre-trip and post-trip interviews as well as journals, I investigate how students’ understandings of racial privilege were maintained or disrupted through their work and participation in an IEL program. Using the lenses of postcolonialism and critical whiteness studies, three themes emerged in the data including imaginary Africa, helping and growing, and Canadian identity. My findings suggest that students have gained greater awareness of their racial privilege after their trip. I argue that IEL programs have the potential to challenge Canadian students’ understandings of the Global South in ways that help them identify their social location and personal motivations for enrolling in an IEL program. I contend that this will minimize the likelihood of reinforcing racial privilege dynamics between the Global North and South and promote critical reflection of how racial privilege impacts everyday lives beyond the IEL experience.
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