Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Community, Policy, Planning and Organizations


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Magnus Mfoafo-M’Carthy

Advisor Role



It is evident from the research around volunteer tourism that local perspectives are sorely lacking. Instead of the focus of research being on the communities that volunteer tourism is meant to help, the emphasis remains on the experiences of the volunteers. Although many researchers identify the lack of attention directed towards host communities as a problem, there remains a lack of research in this area. The importance in the existing research, then, remains on the ‘us’ in developed countries instead of the those in developing countries that volunteer tourism is meant to help. The primary objective of this research is to advocate for the voices of members of host communities in Ghana and to emphasize their importance in developing, maintaining, and creating worthwhile volunteer tourism experiences for the community while demonstrating the importance of the social justice approach in creating lasting, systemic change.

An exploratory research project was undertaken in a small community in Ghana with a number of volunteer tourism projects chosen as the site of the research. Using the anti-colonial discursive framework, nine community members were engaged in semi-structured interviews in order to gain a better understanding of their experiences with volunteer tourism projects and volunteers. A narrative methodology was used in to put together a ‘big picture’ about the experiences of people living within host communities. Five themes were identified using conventional content analysis: volunteer tourism in the community, who is a volunteer, positive personal experiences, the integration of volunteers, and, finally, recommendations for improvements. It is my hope that this research can be a starting point to inspire others to look more closely at host community experiences when researching volunteer tourism.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season