Millennials Changing the World? A Look at the Relationship Between College Students’ Values, Dreams of Travel, and the Desire to Make a Difference

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Florida Southern College
This project explores the cultural interaction between millennials from the U.S. and residents in third world countries where they may volunteer, with a focus on how these young people view themselves and others, and, in particular, any “dominant culture” attitudes that might impact the volunteer experience. I explore three important relationships: between millennials and volunteering, millennials and their perceptions of themselves as the dominant culture, and millennials and people who are culturally different from them. I seek to understand the connection between the values and perceptions of young people who want to help and the likelihood that they will follow through with volunteering. A few themes stand out: a strong connection between diversity as a high value and a strong desire to volunteer outside of the US; money and career issues as significant barriers to volunteering; concerns regarding the misallocation of funds by coordinating organizations to the detriment of host countries; and a strong perception by participants that they had a strong skillset to bring in contrast to a weak perception that there was value in learning from residents in their host community. With this research, I hope to increase understanding of the gap between the strong desire for service and the lack of follow-through in volunteering, especially in cultures that are significantly different from our own.
Honors Thesis Spring 2017
Millennials, Volunteering