Canadians have a long history of volunteering beyond their borders. Since the early 1960s, tens of thousands of Canadian volunteers have packed their suitcases and taken their skills overseas. These individuals have contributed to community and human development, broadened their worldview, and deepened cultural connections with the global community.
A volunteer placement in the developing world can be profoundly affecting and life-changing. The aim of our research was to explore the volunteering patterns of these Canadians once they return home. Does the overseas experience spark the volunteer spirit or was it there before they journeyed abroad? Do these volunteers continue to contribute their time to global issues after they return to Canada or do they re-focus on local concerns? Do they volunteer more, having been bitten by the “volunteer bug” or do they volunteer less, having “paid their dues” overseas? These were the guiding questions of our research.