Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Annette Hamel

Second Advisor

Vickie Edwards

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Jones


This thesis project explores the topic of cross-cultural volunteering in the context of volunteer opportunities facilitated by Aspiras USA, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on youth and community development efforts in the Dominican Republic. Aspiras partners with various college student organizations in the US and offers them opportunities for international volunteering in the Dominican Republic. Knowing how popular international volunteering is, and that it can result in negative outcomes, I was interested in the experiences of these Aspiras volunteers and the community hosts, and how to improve said experiences. I completed a thorough review of literature surrounding volunteer tourism and youth and community development, and I conducted interviews with Aspiras volunteers and host communities that were involved in a volunteer trip. In the process of transcribing and analyzing interview data, common themes emerged such as positive experiences, personal growth, and areas for improvement. I found that cross-cultural volunteer experiences can be positive for both volunteers and hosts, but require comprehensive preparation and intentional facilitation efforts. This research concludes with best practices and recommendations for planning and facilitating volunteer trips.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access