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Impact Assessment
Part One: Participant Experiences


August 2012




Operation Groundswell
web. www.operationgroundswell.com • tel. 1-866-422-0164
687A Bloor Street • Toronto, Canada • M6G 1L3
Table of Contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................ 3	
  
Our Purpose: Global Citizenship ........................................................................................ 4	
  

Sampling Procedure .............................................................................................. 5	
  

Findings .................................................................................................................. 6	
  
Life Trajectories .................................................................................................................. 7	
  
   a. Personal Growth.......................................................................................................... 7	
  
   b. Professional Development ........................................................................................ 10	
  
Project Model .................................................................................................................... 17	
  
   a. What Works? ............................................................................................................. 17	
  
   b. What Doesn’t Work? ................................................................................................. 23	
  

Reflection.............................................................................................................. 24	
  
Trends .............................................................................................................................. 25	
  
   Water Usage ................................................................................................................. 25	
  




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                                  IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE                         2
Introduction

Hungry for learning, but unsatisfied by the confines of the classroom, David Berkal and
Jonah Brotman decided to go out into the world and try volunteering abroad. The problem
was that they couldn’t find a single organization that they could afford. Most were big box
companies charging exorbitant amounts of money to “do good” across the oceans. In
2006, after being heavily disappointed with the options available, they set out to do it
themselves. They spent months meeting and connecting with amazing locals in Ghana,
finding incredible partners and setting up a program to be proud of. Since then, Operation
Groundswell has grown immensely and demand for trips has been overwhelming. We’ve
expanded to nine regions and now run over twenty trips a year!

We bring cool, caring people together who want to explore the world while actively
shaping it. We are not just trying to be a travel company. We’re trying to spark a
movement of globally active and socially conscious backpackers, what we like to call,
backpacktivists. We have had much verbal praise from our local community partners, as
well as from volunteer alumnus, but thus far, it has stopped there…until now.

We have decided to undertake an impact assessment to strategically measure our
program model and perceived effectiveness from both our local partners’ perspective and
from alumni. The complete assessment is thus compiled into two parts.

The first part presents feedback from OG alumni after they have been home for one year.
All trip participants complete an evaluation at the end of their trip while they are overseas
with us. That evaluation seeks feedback from the application process, fundraising
component, trip leaders, etc. These conclusions produce a short-term understanding of
trip impact, but to allow for an understanding of longer-term impacts, we had to wait until
our participants returned home.

The second part is founded on feedback from our local community partners. An
evaluation has been created, which will be distributed to our community project managers

Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com      IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE        3
next summer (2013). The evaluation will be completed anonymously to truly uncover how
our local partners perceive our work on the ground. This collected data, along with the
assessment from OG alumni in the pages that follow, will allow for an all-encompassing
picture of our work from multiple perspectives.




Our Purpose: Global Citizenship
We strive to ignite personal growth and global citizenship through our programs. We often
hypothesize potential trip impacts but how does this actually manifest?

The idea of global citizenship is at the forefront of our project model. As this concept will
often be referred to throughout this report, it is necessary to understand its meaning.
According to Oxfam (2007), “global citizenship is about understanding the need to tackle
injustice and inequality, and having the desire and ability to work actively to do so. It is
about valuing the Earth as precious and unique, and safeguarding the future for those
coming after us. Global citizenship is a way of thinking and behaving. It is an outlook on
life, a belief that we can make a difference.”

Furthermore, a global citizen is someone who:

•   is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen;

•   respects and values diversity;

•   has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially,
    culturally, technologically and environmentally;

•   is outraged by social injustice;

•   participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from local to
    global;

•   is willing to act to make the world a more sustainable place;

•   takes responsibility for their actions.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com       IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE           4
Sampling Procedure

Alison Roadburg, Operation Groundswell’s summer intern, completed the data collection
and report compilation for this project. As she has not participated in an OG trip herself,
the framework for the design and execution of both the interview questions and report
were done from a non-biased standpoint. In the spirit of full disclosure, she prefaced each
interview with this fact.

Alison was asked to interview 25 Operation Groundswell alumni from the 2011 trips. Her
goal was to speak with at least one male and one female participant from all summer
2011 trips, both early summer and late summer programs. She made contact with 65 OG
alumni, and successfully interviewed 21. Although this number fell short of the goal, with
a 32% response rate, enough data was collected to draw the necessary conclusions.

The interviews were conducted via telephone and/or Skype. There were a total of 25
questions, which generally took an average of 30-45 minutes to complete. The interviews
began on July 4th, 2012, and ended on August 14, 2012.

The following chart represents the number and gender of those interviewed coinciding
with trip location.

                                  No. of trip
      Trip Location              Participants         Males                Females
   East Africa              11                  2                     1
   Discovery
   East Africa              10                  1                     1
   Political
   Middle East              8                   2                     0
   Peru Disaster            11                  0                     1


Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com      IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE           5
Relief
   Peru Amazon           12                     1                   0
   Adventure
   SEA Discovery         11                     1                   2
   SEA Eco.              11                     0                   2
   West Africa           9                      1                   1
   Discovery
   West Africa Global    9                      1                   1
   Health
   Colombia              9                      0                   1
   Guatemala             9                      0                   2



*NOTE: Due to logistical reasoning, no participants were interviewed from the Guyana or
India trip.



Findings

The following data presents the major findings. The data is represented in bar graph
figures and direct quotes from participants have been included to elaborate on life
changes and experiences.

The findings are divided into two categories:

    1) Life Trajectories
           a. Personal Growth (Figure 1-5)
           b. Professional Development (Figure 6-11)
    2) Project Model
           a. What works (Figure 12-16)
           b. What doesn’t work?




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com     IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE     6
Life Trajectories
a. Personal Growth
Traveling to a foreign country, especially for the first time, has lasting effects on one’s
personality and affects one’s relationship with themselves and others. Leaving your
comfort zone and support system forces you to adapt, and as such, grow as an
individual.

With this in mind, we probed to see if trip participants noticed such change, and to what
degree this continued once back home.




                                      Do you think your confidence has increased since
                                                        your OG trip?
                            12	
  

                            10	
  
   Number of Parricipants




                              8	
  

                              6	
  

                              4	
  

                              2	
  

                              0	
  
                                        Absolutely    Somewhat    No, not really      Not at all


Figure 1: Do you think your confidence has increased since your OG trip?




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                                 IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   7
Do you think your team/ leadership skills have
                                             increased since your OG trip?
                           12	
  

                           10	
  
  Number of Participants




                             8	
  

                             6	
  

                             4	
  

                             2	
  

                             0	
  
                                      Absolutely    Somewhat    No, not really     Not at all


Figure 2: Do you think your team/leadership skills have increased since your OG
trip?


                                 Do you think your independence has increased
                                              since your OG trip?
                           16	
  
                           14	
  
  Number of Participants




                           12	
  
                           10	
  
                             8	
  
                             6	
  
                             4	
  
                             2	
  
                             0	
  
                                      Absolutely   Somewhat    No, not really    Not at all


Figure 3: Do you think your independence has increased since your OG trip?




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                               IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   8
•                       “Especially in ITT, I did completely solo traveling. Just being a woman and being a
                               woman in a country like that was scary, but also empowering. Showing myself that
                               I could make it through, was special for me.” (East Africa)



                                       Do you think your education has increased
                                                  since your OG trip?
                           20	
  
                           18	
  
  Number of Participants




                           16	
  
                           14	
  
                           12	
  
                           10	
  
                             8	
  
                             6	
  
                             4	
  
                             2	
  
                             0	
  
                                        Absolutely   Somewhat     No, not really      Not at all


Figure 4: Do you think your education has increased since your OG trip?


                                     Do you think your confidence as a traveler has
                                                      increased?
                           20	

                           18	

  Number of Participants




                           16	

                           14	

                           12	

                           10	

                              8	

                              6	

                              4	

                              2	

                              0	

                                       Absolutely    Somewhat   No, not really     Not at all


Figure 5: Do you think your confidence as a traveler has increased?


Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                                  IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   9
These figures represent the impact Operation Groundswell trips have on their alumni in
terms of personal growth and development. As these traits are difficult to objectively
measure, it is important to keep this in mind when drawing conclusions. Nevertheless, it
is worth noting that OG alumni repeatedly reported on the learning and development of
new skills.

   •   “I had never been to Asia, so just having that new sense and awareness and
       understanding how small the world is and how similar people are even worlds
       apart. A better understanding of the world and communities. And also, being more
       confident knowing that I can live with very little. And the only way I could find that
       out is being thrown into a situation, and I could do that...and I came out ok. I feel
       less high maintenance, and think more resourcefully.” (Southeast Asia)



b. Professional Development
As Operation Groundswell’s trips generally appeal to and attract university students, the
potential for a shift in studies, career goals or professional outlook is high. The figures
that follow gauge the level of professional development that resulted from participating in
an OG program.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com       IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE            1
                                                                                                0
Has anything changed (career/school) since your OG trip?

                                 7	


                                 6	

        Number of Participants




                                 5	


                                 4	


                                 3	


                                 2	


                                 1	


                                 0	

                                        Highly   Agree   Somewhat   Neutral   Somewhat Disagree    Highlly
                                        Agree              agree               disagree           Disagree


Figure 6: Has anything changed (career/school) since your OG trip?

There is an overwhelming response of alumni reporting that their OG trip did indeed
change their current professional path. Alumni reported a reaffirmation of professional
goals, a shift in current/future studies, and repositioning career priorities.

    •       “I decided to go for my dream and become a pilot…why wait? Seeing
            how people live for the moment and the sense of culture and community,
            I loved that. That was my favorite part. Experiencing their lifestyle,
            trying to pick up on the Hakuna Matatta attitude, I really like that.” (East Africa)


    •       “When I went to SEA I went to a lot of archeological sites and historical
            sights. I gained a real interest in the history of that region, and I think that
            is where I want to do my research…for field work” (Southeast Asia)


    •       “Brought back my plan. I had a plan, got lazy and disillusioned and felt


Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                             IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   1
                                                                                                             1
like I couldn’t do anything, but now I feel like ok, back to the plan.” (Southeast
            Asia)


       •    “Before the trip I wasn’t sure what I was going to be pursuing when I first
            started school. The initial goal was to be an engineer...but I didn’t like that
            so much. After the Ghana trip, I got really interested in health care and
            I’m now pursuing medicine.” (West Africa)


   •       “I study political science. I was always interested in African politics and the
           trip solidified that, changed my perspective on a lot of things, changed school
           direction. Now I’m at Carleton [University], for the African studies program.”
           (East Africa)


These results, unlike many of the others presented in this report are tangible. These
changes were not only perceived, but they were actualized.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com           IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE         1
                                                                                                 2
Do you think your communication skills have
                                   increased ina professional setting since your
                                                     OG trip?
                           16	

                           14	

  Number of Participants




                           12	

                           10	

                            8	

                            6	

                            4	

                            2	

                            0	

                                    Absolutely   Somewhat     No, not really      Not at all




Figure 7: Do you think your communication skills have increased in a professional
setting since your OG trip?



                              Do you think your confidence has increased in
                                a professional setting since your OG trip?
                           10	

                            9	

  Number of Participants




                            8	

                            7	

                            6	

                            5	

                            4	

                            3	

                            2	

                            1	

                            0	

                                    Absolutely   Somewhat   No, not really     Not at all


Figure 8: Do you think your confidence has increased in a professional setting
since your OG trip?

*NOTE: this response rate was 20 participants; one did not answer this question.

Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                                IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   1
                                                                                                                3
Do you think your leadership skills have increased in a
                                          professional setting since your OG trip?
                             9	


                             8	


                             7	

    Number of Participants




                             6	


                             5	


                             4	


                             3	


                             2	


                             1	


                             0	

                                     Absolutely       Somewhat        No, not really      Not at all



Figure 9: Do you think your leadership skills have increased in a professional
setting since your OG trip?




*NOTE: Response rate was 19 participants; two did not answer this question.

An increase of workplace/school communication skills, confidence and leadership since
an OG trip is not overwhelmingly high, but a change pattern can still be observed.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                       IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   1
                                                                                                       4
This next figure represents a summary of the above findings. The majority reported that
their trip experience was highly important and influential in terms of professional
development, employability, and focus of studies.


                                          How would you rate the importance of your OG experience
                                           for professional development, employability and focus of
                                                                   studies
                                14	
  

                                12	
  
       Number of Participants




                                10	
  

                                  8	
  

                                  6	
  

                                  4	
  

                                  2	
  

                                  0	
  
                                               Highly      Important   Neutral      Not very   No impact, no
                                           important and                            importat    importance
                                             influential                                        whatsoever


Figure 10: How would you rate the importance of your OG experience for
professional development, employability, and focus of studies?




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                               IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   1
                                                                                                               5
Do you think your OG trip helped you find a job?
                                7	



                                6	



                                5	

       Number of Participants




                                4	



                                3	



                                2	



                                1	



                                0	

                                       Highly   Agree   Somewhat   Neutral   Somehwat    Disagree    Highly
                                       Agree              Agree               Disagree              Disagree


Figure 11: Do you think your OG trip helped you find a job?

Many participants elaborated in great detail the impact of their OG trip on professional
and personal development. Though this data is difficult to quantify and represent in a
graph, it is still of great value. Here is a small selection of what our alumni had to say:

   • “I try to live more in the moment. I read the news everyday, that’s my job…
         just got to be more in the moment”. (Middle East)


   •                    “Really socially conscious before, but it matured your opinions...before
                       I wanted to “save the world”. Now that I look back, that seems ignorant. At
                       one point, in Tzibal, all we did was shovel gravel up a hill for a week and
                       sorted bottles. I remembered we had discussions at night talking about
                       how this isn’t helping, and realizing that I didn’t go on the trip to save the

Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                           IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE       1
                                                                                                               6
world. I went for myself, to open my eyes. It’s about promoting local
       initiatives and that’s where my opinion and perspective changed.”
       (Guatemala)


   •   “Being in Kenya, I want to be connected and aware of what’s going on
       now. Other people on his trip have gone back. I’m now much more
       aware about global issues and about conflicts. Read more news than I
       did before and I now try to change perspectives of people. And let them
       know that the situation is not as crazy as the news says, not all Africa is
       at war.” (East Africa)


   •   “Yes – but it’s hard to pinpoint specifics. I’m now open to, and unafraid
       of any conversation and situation. I generally lost a lot of the fear that
       comes when in a new situation or outside of my comfort zone. It all of a
       sudden becomes a comfort. Able to float now, which is pretty cool.”
       (Middle East)


   •   “Yes, my whole view of Africa has changed…coming into it was not it at
       all. I had way more culture shock going to Africa, I felt that our culture is
       very ignorant.” (West Africa)



Project Model
a. What Works?
In order to understand what part of our programs worked and didn’t work for participants
in terms of personal development, we broke down defining aspects of our programs and
asked participants the impact each had on them.

       •   Traveling in a foreign country (Figure 12)
       •   Roughing it (Figure 13)
       •   Meeting people from diverse cultural backgrounds (Figure 14)
       •   Debriefs/Discussions (Figure 15)
       •   The volunteer project (Figure 16)
Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com        IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   1
                                                                                        7
How much of an impact did traveling in a foreign country have
                                                               on you?
                             18	


                             16	


                             14	

    Number of Participants




                             12	


                             10	


                               8	


                               6	


                               4	


                               2	


                               0	

                                       Highly    Agree   Somewhat   Neutral   Somewhat    Disagree    Highlly
                                       Agree               agree               disagree              Disagree


Figure 12: How much of an impact did traveling in a foreign country have on you?

76% of the respondents indicated that they ‘highly agree’ that traveling to a foreign
country had a significant impact on their personal growth and development.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                            IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE       1
                                                                                                                8
How much of an impact did "roughing it" have on you?
                           14	



                           12	



                           10	

  Number of Participants




                            8	



                            6	



                            4	



                            2	



                            0	

                                   Highly   Agree   Somewhat   Neutral   Somewhat    Disagree    Highlly
                                   Agree              agree               disagree              Disagree


Figure 13: How much of an impact did ‘roughing it’ (sleeping anywhere, taking long
bus rides, eating rice and beans for 3 weeks straight) have on you?




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                       IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE       1
                                                                                                           9
How much of an impact did meeting people from diverse
                                                 cultural backgrounds have on you?
                                14	



                                12	

       Number of Participants




                                10	



                                  8	



                                  6	



                                  4	



                                  2	



                                  0	

                                          Highly   Agree   Somewhat   Neutral   Somewhat Disagree    Highlly
                                          Agree              agree               disagree           Disagree


Figure 14: How much of an impact did meeting people from diverse cultural
backgrounds have on you?

Guided by the ideals of global citizenship, Operation Groundswell trips strive to create
lasting connections with host communities. Participants are urged to connect with locals,
and this data represents just how much this impacted their experience.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                               IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   2
                                                                                                               0
How much of an impact did the volunteer project have on
                                                                   you?
                                  12	




                                  10	

         Number of Participants




                                    8	




                                    6	




                                    4	




                                    2	




                                    0	

                                             Highly   Agree   Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly
                                             Agree              agree           disagree         Disagree


Figure 15: How much of an impact did the volunteer project have on you?

This figure displays personal impact with regards to the volunteer project. It is important
to keep in mind the great variation of these projects – both country and community
specific. Despite this, most participants felt that their volunteering had an impact on their
lives.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                              IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   2
                                                                                                              1
Debriefs/Discussions
                                12	




                                10	

       Number of Participants




                                  8	




                                  6	




                                  4	




                                  2	




                                  0	

                                         Highly   Agree   Somewhat   Neutral   Somewhat Disagree    Highlly
                                         Agree              agree               disagree           Disagree


Figure 16: How much of an impact did debriefs and discussions have on you?

Just like above, this next figure is also very trip-specific. Trip leaders encourage daily
debriefs and discussions, but the execution of this is very much dependent on the group
dynamics, community landscape, and trip leader’s knowledge, understanding, and
facilitation techniques.


Participant feedback:

   •   “I think that is one of the biggest parts of the trip that resonated with me. So
       impressed with the 3 trip leaders – the level of intellect and the level of questions
       asked. I felt like I was talking to 3 professors. They knew how to get us thinking. I
       think that fostered how I thought about the whole trip analytically, and how to make
       the trip more…kept a journal, I never do that, but because of our discussions I just
       had so many thoughts in my head that I wanted to write down. Put things on

Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com                              IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   2
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another dimension - how we can make change as a group…or if we can even
       make change? Is it for our own benefit? International development studies kind of
       thing” (Middle East)


   •   “Having the idea to travel with people and run by people my age. They did things
       right.” (Guatemala)


   •   “Sometimes OG comes across as loosely organized, horizontal
       organization…which is why I was so attracted to it – it was not tons and tons of
       forms to fill out, and did not have to give references, etc. In that sense I enjoyed
       that there was less bureaucracy, I also enjoyed the fact that it is a group trip, but
       still an individual trip – sometimes as a group you may not agree…frustrating but it
       also makes the trip what it is...it was not so planned in advance, just move on the
       fly, one person’s passport was stolen and had to break off..and that’s what I
       enjoy...the unexpected and being able to deal with it. Maybe if this happened on
       another program, or with other organizations, that person would have to call home,
       etc…not like on OG.” (East Africa)


b. What Doesn’t Work?
The primary idea behind an impact assessment is to uncover the good, the bad, and the
ugly. Participants were asked what did not work for them and what they would change
about the program given the chance. Unfortunately we were not able to make any
significant conclusions in this category. Below is this feedback.

   •   “The only thing I would have changed is when we were living in Sandema. There
       was me and this other girl, whose family was outside of town – was not great,
       could not meet up with everyone…especially at night. So I would suggest to not
       have people stay so far, or at least get them bikes or something.” (West Africa)




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com       IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE           2
                                                                                               3
•   “We met the prime minister, wish we talked more about the political
       climate...touched on it but would have liked to go more into it…especially after
       meeting people, and the elections were coming up.” (East Africa)


   •   “Maybe go a bit deeper…I know it depends on the group dynamics, but there’s
       definitely the possibility to go deeper. Hard to keep a balance between a more
       pedagogical discussion and just general. Sometimes you can tell leaders would
       bring things up in a more casual way…but it’s hard because the topics are more
       out there.” (Guatemala)


   •   “We did a lot more of the discussions at the start and then it dwindled towards the
       end” (East Africa)

   •   “For the most part I was satisfied. Maybe I would have liked a little bit more all-
       group discussion. We did have a couple, but generally they were informal over
       meals.”(West Africa)



Reflection

This assessment explored ways in which Operation Groundswell trip alumni experienced
change in their personal and professional lives. It was also a way to gain insight
surrounding the execution of our programs from the perspective of our alumni.

Much of what we found has been quantified in the graphs above, but there is also a lot of
quantitative data worth noting. We documented those findings below.




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com       IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE         2
                                                                                             4
Trends

Water Usage
When asked about a change in perspective, or daily routine, a noticeable number of
respondents mentioned that they were much more aware of their use (and in many cases
overuse), of water once they returned home.


   •       “Water in Maragoli was always an issue, in Rome (layover on way
            home) water fountains just kept going. I still think about it now.
            Still conserve water. I was conscious before, but not nearly as much
           as post trip.”


   •       “For the first month I would always laugh when I walked into a
            bathroom, oh my gosh.”


News engagement
7 respondents indicated an increase of their personal engagement with both local and
international news. Whether paying more attention to global issues, an awareness of the
daily happenings in the country of their trip, or more attention to local news, this was
surely a trend throughout the interviews.


As the development of global citizenship is at the forefront of our organization and project
model, an increase of attention to and awareness of global and local issues is
overwhelmingly relevant.


Reconfirmed direction – An overwhelming number of respondents indicated that their
trip reconfirmed their current life course/long term goal.


       •    “I decided to go for my dream and become a pilot…why wait? Seeing
            how people live for the moment and the sense of culture and community,
            I loved that. That was my favorite part. Experiencing their lifestyle,

Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com           IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE   2
                                                                                           5
trying to pick up on the Hakuna Matatta attitude, I really like that.” (East Africa)


       •    “When I went to SEA I went to a lot of archeological sites and historical
            sights. I gained a real interest in the history of that region, and I think that
            is where I want to do my research…for field work” (Southeast Asia)


       •    “Brought back my plan. I had a plan, got lazy and disillusioned and felt
            like I couldn’t do anything, but now I feel like ok, back to the plan.” (Southeast
            Asia)


       •    “Before the trip I wasn’t sure what I was going to be pursuing when I first
            started school. The initial goal was to be an engineer...but I didn’t like that
            so much. After the Ghana trip, I got really interested in health care and
            I’m now pursuing medicine.” (West Africa)


   •       “I study political science. I was always interested in African politics and the
           trip solidified that, changed my perspective on a lot of things, changed school
           direction. Now I’m at Carleton [University], for the African studies program.”
           (East Africa)


   •       “The door to which I see the world I always try to keep open, but this
           trip kicked that door to the ground and tore it apart - now I have a
           double bay door to see the world”


   •       “Shifted no, specified yes. I’ve been infected by the travel bug. I have
           more clarity, now that I have done it, I want to see the word and
           change it –now it’s not even a question. If you asked me before OG,
           that would be different. Now it’s real. It made my 5-year plan realistic”




Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com            IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE          2
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2012 Impact Assessment: Part 1

  • 1. Impact Assessment Part One: Participant Experiences August 2012 Operation Groundswell web. www.operationgroundswell.com • tel. 1-866-422-0164 687A Bloor Street • Toronto, Canada • M6G 1L3
  • 2. Table of Contents Introduction ............................................................................................................ 3   Our Purpose: Global Citizenship ........................................................................................ 4   Sampling Procedure .............................................................................................. 5   Findings .................................................................................................................. 6   Life Trajectories .................................................................................................................. 7   a. Personal Growth.......................................................................................................... 7   b. Professional Development ........................................................................................ 10   Project Model .................................................................................................................... 17   a. What Works? ............................................................................................................. 17   b. What Doesn’t Work? ................................................................................................. 23   Reflection.............................................................................................................. 24   Trends .............................................................................................................................. 25   Water Usage ................................................................................................................. 25   Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2
  • 3. Introduction Hungry for learning, but unsatisfied by the confines of the classroom, David Berkal and Jonah Brotman decided to go out into the world and try volunteering abroad. The problem was that they couldn’t find a single organization that they could afford. Most were big box companies charging exorbitant amounts of money to “do good” across the oceans. In 2006, after being heavily disappointed with the options available, they set out to do it themselves. They spent months meeting and connecting with amazing locals in Ghana, finding incredible partners and setting up a program to be proud of. Since then, Operation Groundswell has grown immensely and demand for trips has been overwhelming. We’ve expanded to nine regions and now run over twenty trips a year! We bring cool, caring people together who want to explore the world while actively shaping it. We are not just trying to be a travel company. We’re trying to spark a movement of globally active and socially conscious backpackers, what we like to call, backpacktivists. We have had much verbal praise from our local community partners, as well as from volunteer alumnus, but thus far, it has stopped there…until now. We have decided to undertake an impact assessment to strategically measure our program model and perceived effectiveness from both our local partners’ perspective and from alumni. The complete assessment is thus compiled into two parts. The first part presents feedback from OG alumni after they have been home for one year. All trip participants complete an evaluation at the end of their trip while they are overseas with us. That evaluation seeks feedback from the application process, fundraising component, trip leaders, etc. These conclusions produce a short-term understanding of trip impact, but to allow for an understanding of longer-term impacts, we had to wait until our participants returned home. The second part is founded on feedback from our local community partners. An evaluation has been created, which will be distributed to our community project managers Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 3
  • 4. next summer (2013). The evaluation will be completed anonymously to truly uncover how our local partners perceive our work on the ground. This collected data, along with the assessment from OG alumni in the pages that follow, will allow for an all-encompassing picture of our work from multiple perspectives. Our Purpose: Global Citizenship We strive to ignite personal growth and global citizenship through our programs. We often hypothesize potential trip impacts but how does this actually manifest? The idea of global citizenship is at the forefront of our project model. As this concept will often be referred to throughout this report, it is necessary to understand its meaning. According to Oxfam (2007), “global citizenship is about understanding the need to tackle injustice and inequality, and having the desire and ability to work actively to do so. It is about valuing the Earth as precious and unique, and safeguarding the future for those coming after us. Global citizenship is a way of thinking and behaving. It is an outlook on life, a belief that we can make a difference.” Furthermore, a global citizen is someone who: • is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen; • respects and values diversity; • has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally; • is outraged by social injustice; • participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from local to global; • is willing to act to make the world a more sustainable place; • takes responsibility for their actions. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 4
  • 5. Sampling Procedure Alison Roadburg, Operation Groundswell’s summer intern, completed the data collection and report compilation for this project. As she has not participated in an OG trip herself, the framework for the design and execution of both the interview questions and report were done from a non-biased standpoint. In the spirit of full disclosure, she prefaced each interview with this fact. Alison was asked to interview 25 Operation Groundswell alumni from the 2011 trips. Her goal was to speak with at least one male and one female participant from all summer 2011 trips, both early summer and late summer programs. She made contact with 65 OG alumni, and successfully interviewed 21. Although this number fell short of the goal, with a 32% response rate, enough data was collected to draw the necessary conclusions. The interviews were conducted via telephone and/or Skype. There were a total of 25 questions, which generally took an average of 30-45 minutes to complete. The interviews began on July 4th, 2012, and ended on August 14, 2012. The following chart represents the number and gender of those interviewed coinciding with trip location. No. of trip Trip Location Participants Males Females East Africa 11 2 1 Discovery East Africa 10 1 1 Political Middle East 8 2 0 Peru Disaster 11 0 1 Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 5
  • 6. Relief Peru Amazon 12 1 0 Adventure SEA Discovery 11 1 2 SEA Eco. 11 0 2 West Africa 9 1 1 Discovery West Africa Global 9 1 1 Health Colombia 9 0 1 Guatemala 9 0 2 *NOTE: Due to logistical reasoning, no participants were interviewed from the Guyana or India trip. Findings The following data presents the major findings. The data is represented in bar graph figures and direct quotes from participants have been included to elaborate on life changes and experiences. The findings are divided into two categories: 1) Life Trajectories a. Personal Growth (Figure 1-5) b. Professional Development (Figure 6-11) 2) Project Model a. What works (Figure 12-16) b. What doesn’t work? Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 6
  • 7. Life Trajectories a. Personal Growth Traveling to a foreign country, especially for the first time, has lasting effects on one’s personality and affects one’s relationship with themselves and others. Leaving your comfort zone and support system forces you to adapt, and as such, grow as an individual. With this in mind, we probed to see if trip participants noticed such change, and to what degree this continued once back home. Do you think your confidence has increased since your OG trip? 12   10   Number of Parricipants 8   6   4   2   0   Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 1: Do you think your confidence has increased since your OG trip? Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 7
  • 8. Do you think your team/ leadership skills have increased since your OG trip? 12   10   Number of Participants 8   6   4   2   0   Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 2: Do you think your team/leadership skills have increased since your OG trip? Do you think your independence has increased since your OG trip? 16   14   Number of Participants 12   10   8   6   4   2   0   Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 3: Do you think your independence has increased since your OG trip? Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 8
  • 9. “Especially in ITT, I did completely solo traveling. Just being a woman and being a woman in a country like that was scary, but also empowering. Showing myself that I could make it through, was special for me.” (East Africa) Do you think your education has increased since your OG trip? 20   18   Number of Participants 16   14   12   10   8   6   4   2   0   Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 4: Do you think your education has increased since your OG trip? Do you think your confidence as a traveler has increased? 20 18 Number of Participants 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 5: Do you think your confidence as a traveler has increased? Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 9
  • 10. These figures represent the impact Operation Groundswell trips have on their alumni in terms of personal growth and development. As these traits are difficult to objectively measure, it is important to keep this in mind when drawing conclusions. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that OG alumni repeatedly reported on the learning and development of new skills. • “I had never been to Asia, so just having that new sense and awareness and understanding how small the world is and how similar people are even worlds apart. A better understanding of the world and communities. And also, being more confident knowing that I can live with very little. And the only way I could find that out is being thrown into a situation, and I could do that...and I came out ok. I feel less high maintenance, and think more resourcefully.” (Southeast Asia) b. Professional Development As Operation Groundswell’s trips generally appeal to and attract university students, the potential for a shift in studies, career goals or professional outlook is high. The figures that follow gauge the level of professional development that resulted from participating in an OG program. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 0
  • 11. Has anything changed (career/school) since your OG trip? 7 6 Number of Participants 5 4 3 2 1 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly Agree agree disagree Disagree Figure 6: Has anything changed (career/school) since your OG trip? There is an overwhelming response of alumni reporting that their OG trip did indeed change their current professional path. Alumni reported a reaffirmation of professional goals, a shift in current/future studies, and repositioning career priorities. • “I decided to go for my dream and become a pilot…why wait? Seeing how people live for the moment and the sense of culture and community, I loved that. That was my favorite part. Experiencing their lifestyle, trying to pick up on the Hakuna Matatta attitude, I really like that.” (East Africa) • “When I went to SEA I went to a lot of archeological sites and historical sights. I gained a real interest in the history of that region, and I think that is where I want to do my research…for field work” (Southeast Asia) • “Brought back my plan. I had a plan, got lazy and disillusioned and felt Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 1
  • 12. like I couldn’t do anything, but now I feel like ok, back to the plan.” (Southeast Asia) • “Before the trip I wasn’t sure what I was going to be pursuing when I first started school. The initial goal was to be an engineer...but I didn’t like that so much. After the Ghana trip, I got really interested in health care and I’m now pursuing medicine.” (West Africa) • “I study political science. I was always interested in African politics and the trip solidified that, changed my perspective on a lot of things, changed school direction. Now I’m at Carleton [University], for the African studies program.” (East Africa) These results, unlike many of the others presented in this report are tangible. These changes were not only perceived, but they were actualized. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 2
  • 13. Do you think your communication skills have increased ina professional setting since your OG trip? 16 14 Number of Participants 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 7: Do you think your communication skills have increased in a professional setting since your OG trip? Do you think your confidence has increased in a professional setting since your OG trip? 10 9 Number of Participants 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 8: Do you think your confidence has increased in a professional setting since your OG trip? *NOTE: this response rate was 20 participants; one did not answer this question. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 3
  • 14. Do you think your leadership skills have increased in a professional setting since your OG trip? 9 8 7 Number of Participants 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Absolutely Somewhat No, not really Not at all Figure 9: Do you think your leadership skills have increased in a professional setting since your OG trip? *NOTE: Response rate was 19 participants; two did not answer this question. An increase of workplace/school communication skills, confidence and leadership since an OG trip is not overwhelmingly high, but a change pattern can still be observed. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 4
  • 15. This next figure represents a summary of the above findings. The majority reported that their trip experience was highly important and influential in terms of professional development, employability, and focus of studies. How would you rate the importance of your OG experience for professional development, employability and focus of studies 14   12   Number of Participants 10   8   6   4   2   0   Highly Important Neutral Not very No impact, no important and importat importance influential whatsoever Figure 10: How would you rate the importance of your OG experience for professional development, employability, and focus of studies? Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 5
  • 16. Do you think your OG trip helped you find a job? 7 6 5 Number of Participants 4 3 2 1 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somehwat Disagree Highly Agree Agree Disagree Disagree Figure 11: Do you think your OG trip helped you find a job? Many participants elaborated in great detail the impact of their OG trip on professional and personal development. Though this data is difficult to quantify and represent in a graph, it is still of great value. Here is a small selection of what our alumni had to say: • “I try to live more in the moment. I read the news everyday, that’s my job… just got to be more in the moment”. (Middle East) • “Really socially conscious before, but it matured your opinions...before I wanted to “save the world”. Now that I look back, that seems ignorant. At one point, in Tzibal, all we did was shovel gravel up a hill for a week and sorted bottles. I remembered we had discussions at night talking about how this isn’t helping, and realizing that I didn’t go on the trip to save the Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 6
  • 17. world. I went for myself, to open my eyes. It’s about promoting local initiatives and that’s where my opinion and perspective changed.” (Guatemala) • “Being in Kenya, I want to be connected and aware of what’s going on now. Other people on his trip have gone back. I’m now much more aware about global issues and about conflicts. Read more news than I did before and I now try to change perspectives of people. And let them know that the situation is not as crazy as the news says, not all Africa is at war.” (East Africa) • “Yes – but it’s hard to pinpoint specifics. I’m now open to, and unafraid of any conversation and situation. I generally lost a lot of the fear that comes when in a new situation or outside of my comfort zone. It all of a sudden becomes a comfort. Able to float now, which is pretty cool.” (Middle East) • “Yes, my whole view of Africa has changed…coming into it was not it at all. I had way more culture shock going to Africa, I felt that our culture is very ignorant.” (West Africa) Project Model a. What Works? In order to understand what part of our programs worked and didn’t work for participants in terms of personal development, we broke down defining aspects of our programs and asked participants the impact each had on them. • Traveling in a foreign country (Figure 12) • Roughing it (Figure 13) • Meeting people from diverse cultural backgrounds (Figure 14) • Debriefs/Discussions (Figure 15) • The volunteer project (Figure 16) Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 7
  • 18. How much of an impact did traveling in a foreign country have on you? 18 16 14 Number of Participants 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly Agree agree disagree Disagree Figure 12: How much of an impact did traveling in a foreign country have on you? 76% of the respondents indicated that they ‘highly agree’ that traveling to a foreign country had a significant impact on their personal growth and development. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 8
  • 19. How much of an impact did "roughing it" have on you? 14 12 10 Number of Participants 8 6 4 2 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly Agree agree disagree Disagree Figure 13: How much of an impact did ‘roughing it’ (sleeping anywhere, taking long bus rides, eating rice and beans for 3 weeks straight) have on you? Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 1 9
  • 20. How much of an impact did meeting people from diverse cultural backgrounds have on you? 14 12 Number of Participants 10 8 6 4 2 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly Agree agree disagree Disagree Figure 14: How much of an impact did meeting people from diverse cultural backgrounds have on you? Guided by the ideals of global citizenship, Operation Groundswell trips strive to create lasting connections with host communities. Participants are urged to connect with locals, and this data represents just how much this impacted their experience. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 0
  • 21. How much of an impact did the volunteer project have on you? 12 10 Number of Participants 8 6 4 2 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly Agree agree disagree Disagree Figure 15: How much of an impact did the volunteer project have on you? This figure displays personal impact with regards to the volunteer project. It is important to keep in mind the great variation of these projects – both country and community specific. Despite this, most participants felt that their volunteering had an impact on their lives. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 1
  • 22. Debriefs/Discussions 12 10 Number of Participants 8 6 4 2 0 Highly Agree Somewhat Neutral Somewhat Disagree Highlly Agree agree disagree Disagree Figure 16: How much of an impact did debriefs and discussions have on you? Just like above, this next figure is also very trip-specific. Trip leaders encourage daily debriefs and discussions, but the execution of this is very much dependent on the group dynamics, community landscape, and trip leader’s knowledge, understanding, and facilitation techniques. Participant feedback: • “I think that is one of the biggest parts of the trip that resonated with me. So impressed with the 3 trip leaders – the level of intellect and the level of questions asked. I felt like I was talking to 3 professors. They knew how to get us thinking. I think that fostered how I thought about the whole trip analytically, and how to make the trip more…kept a journal, I never do that, but because of our discussions I just had so many thoughts in my head that I wanted to write down. Put things on Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 2
  • 23. another dimension - how we can make change as a group…or if we can even make change? Is it for our own benefit? International development studies kind of thing” (Middle East) • “Having the idea to travel with people and run by people my age. They did things right.” (Guatemala) • “Sometimes OG comes across as loosely organized, horizontal organization…which is why I was so attracted to it – it was not tons and tons of forms to fill out, and did not have to give references, etc. In that sense I enjoyed that there was less bureaucracy, I also enjoyed the fact that it is a group trip, but still an individual trip – sometimes as a group you may not agree…frustrating but it also makes the trip what it is...it was not so planned in advance, just move on the fly, one person’s passport was stolen and had to break off..and that’s what I enjoy...the unexpected and being able to deal with it. Maybe if this happened on another program, or with other organizations, that person would have to call home, etc…not like on OG.” (East Africa) b. What Doesn’t Work? The primary idea behind an impact assessment is to uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly. Participants were asked what did not work for them and what they would change about the program given the chance. Unfortunately we were not able to make any significant conclusions in this category. Below is this feedback. • “The only thing I would have changed is when we were living in Sandema. There was me and this other girl, whose family was outside of town – was not great, could not meet up with everyone…especially at night. So I would suggest to not have people stay so far, or at least get them bikes or something.” (West Africa) Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 3
  • 24. “We met the prime minister, wish we talked more about the political climate...touched on it but would have liked to go more into it…especially after meeting people, and the elections were coming up.” (East Africa) • “Maybe go a bit deeper…I know it depends on the group dynamics, but there’s definitely the possibility to go deeper. Hard to keep a balance between a more pedagogical discussion and just general. Sometimes you can tell leaders would bring things up in a more casual way…but it’s hard because the topics are more out there.” (Guatemala) • “We did a lot more of the discussions at the start and then it dwindled towards the end” (East Africa) • “For the most part I was satisfied. Maybe I would have liked a little bit more all- group discussion. We did have a couple, but generally they were informal over meals.”(West Africa) Reflection This assessment explored ways in which Operation Groundswell trip alumni experienced change in their personal and professional lives. It was also a way to gain insight surrounding the execution of our programs from the perspective of our alumni. Much of what we found has been quantified in the graphs above, but there is also a lot of quantitative data worth noting. We documented those findings below. Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 4
  • 25. Trends Water Usage When asked about a change in perspective, or daily routine, a noticeable number of respondents mentioned that they were much more aware of their use (and in many cases overuse), of water once they returned home. • “Water in Maragoli was always an issue, in Rome (layover on way home) water fountains just kept going. I still think about it now. Still conserve water. I was conscious before, but not nearly as much as post trip.” • “For the first month I would always laugh when I walked into a bathroom, oh my gosh.” News engagement 7 respondents indicated an increase of their personal engagement with both local and international news. Whether paying more attention to global issues, an awareness of the daily happenings in the country of their trip, or more attention to local news, this was surely a trend throughout the interviews. As the development of global citizenship is at the forefront of our organization and project model, an increase of attention to and awareness of global and local issues is overwhelmingly relevant. Reconfirmed direction – An overwhelming number of respondents indicated that their trip reconfirmed their current life course/long term goal. • “I decided to go for my dream and become a pilot…why wait? Seeing how people live for the moment and the sense of culture and community, I loved that. That was my favorite part. Experiencing their lifestyle, Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 5
  • 26. trying to pick up on the Hakuna Matatta attitude, I really like that.” (East Africa) • “When I went to SEA I went to a lot of archeological sites and historical sights. I gained a real interest in the history of that region, and I think that is where I want to do my research…for field work” (Southeast Asia) • “Brought back my plan. I had a plan, got lazy and disillusioned and felt like I couldn’t do anything, but now I feel like ok, back to the plan.” (Southeast Asia) • “Before the trip I wasn’t sure what I was going to be pursuing when I first started school. The initial goal was to be an engineer...but I didn’t like that so much. After the Ghana trip, I got really interested in health care and I’m now pursuing medicine.” (West Africa) • “I study political science. I was always interested in African politics and the trip solidified that, changed my perspective on a lot of things, changed school direction. Now I’m at Carleton [University], for the African studies program.” (East Africa) • “The door to which I see the world I always try to keep open, but this trip kicked that door to the ground and tore it apart - now I have a double bay door to see the world” • “Shifted no, specified yes. I’ve been infected by the travel bug. I have more clarity, now that I have done it, I want to see the word and change it –now it’s not even a question. If you asked me before OG, that would be different. Now it’s real. It made my 5-year plan realistic” Operation Groundswell www.operationgroundswell.com IMPACT ASSESSMENT: PART ONE 2 6