Document Type

Honors Paper


Jefferson Singer

Publication Date



At the time this thesis was submitted, Swaziland had recently changed its official country name to eSwatini. For the purposes of this thesis, however, eSwatini will still be referred to as Swaziland.


This thesis consisted of two separate studies that explored the perceptions and opinions of local community members in Swaziland on international volunteering and international volunteers. The first study included 27 participants, 18 years and older, 14 of whom were males and 13 who were females, from various subgroups of the population. The subgroups were members of international volunteering organizations, students from Waterford Kamhlaba (a local international high school), members of the professional and working population and host community members who receive international volunteers. All participants answered 20 questions in a semi-structured interview. Qualitative analysis of the responses yielded five overarching themes; 1) international volunteering as an overwhelmingly positive phenomenon, 2) some help is better than none, 3) learning and cultural exchange as important components of/to international volunteering and international volunteers, 4) internalized White supremacy, and 5) children as the specific focus of international volunteering. The second study included 22 participants from two different orphanage sites in Swaziland. Participants ranged from ages 6 – 13 years-old and were comprised of 15 males and 7 females. All participants answered a short semi-structured interview and produced two drawings, one of international volunteers and another of an adult caregiver. Their responses and drawings revealed positive views of international volunteers, as shown through facial expressions and interview comments. Gender distinctions, size distinctions and race distinctions were also analyzed. Contextual differences between the orphanages were contributing factors to the perceptions of international volunteers. This thesis illustrated that while international volunteering is received in highly positive terms in Swaziland, there remain some underlying concerns that point to lingering dependency and internalized White supremacy tensions. International volunteers, while continuing to make contributions in their work, will need to be educated about and alert to these considerations.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.