Image of students learning from others in Guatemala

International Samaritan’s Research Consultant, Kenneth Coleman, recently released “International Samaritan Success Stories”, a report on the effects of service-learning immersion experiences on our volunteers.

While International Samaritan’s efforts have been shown to improve the lives of those living in garbage dump communities, Coleman found that the lives of our participants were also changed by their volunteer experience.
Most of the “success stories” involve individuals whose career choices were influenced–indirectly or directly–by an International Samaritan service-learning immersion experience. Interviewees reported their lasting impressions went far beyond the poverty they witnessed; rather, their memories focused on the impoverished people they met and the respect they gained for the poor.
Participants spoke of diminished appreciation for material consumption and of a renewed perspective on the many resources they enjoy. They described a deepening of their prayer and spiritual life, as well as a desire to engage in more opportunities to help the poor. They also offered thoughts on the importance of sharing the service-learning immersion experiences with more people.

When asked about how they would recommend talking to others about International Samaritan experiences, suggestions were made to the effect that, “if you go, you will receive more than you give and you may well change.” Perhaps the simplest, most striking testament to the impact came from one person who stated, “To know me is to know about my Guatemala experience.”

Coleman has taught graduate seminars on the political economy of poverty in Latin America at the Universities of North Carolina, Kentucky, New Mexico, as well as at Duke. He calls his work with International Samaritan “applied research in the best sense”. He stated, “As an indirect result of a survey we did of beneficiaries of International Samaritan activities, a school was built in Zone 3 in Guatemala City. Graduates have gone on to opportunities for employment and higher education. What could be better?”
We are sincerely thankful for Coleman’s contribution to our mission, and we look forward to sharing these “success stories” as we continue to recruit more volunteers. Keep up with us and our participants on Facebook  and on Twitter to read and share stories from current volunteers.