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Global Perspectives

How Possible Is International Exchange?

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Participants from Australia, Italy, Brazil, Finland, Japan, Lebanon and North America

This Keyboard Roundtable included participants from six different countries, representing vastly different volunteerism cultures. The group was asked to respond primarily to the question of "How Possible Is International Exchange?" and over a three week period of intense email discussions the group covered a wide range of discussion points in responding to the topic.

The discussion allowed all involved to better understand the strengths and limitations of volunteerism in other parts of the world, looked at the impact and influence of the well developed "US Model" of volunteerism - and particularly discussed the cultural intricacies of adopting a foreign "model" into local practices.

Other discussion points raised included the emerging possibilities of technology (including the internet), government, Volunteer Centers and the International Year of Volunteers in aiding international exchange. The Roundtable also examined the core question of what constitutes a "Civil Society"?

The Keyboard Roundtable participants and their Convening Editor must all be applauded for their efforts and for the remarkable product of their discussion. Not only did the participants engage in a new and experimental venture, but many did so in a language other than their native tongue. All are to be commended for the manner in which they articulated their ideas and for their courage in engaging in such a difficult and revealing endeavor.

High praise must also go to Convening Editor, Andy Fryar, who not only monitored and nurtured the discussion, but also edited the materials in a way that both highlights the ideas of the participants and creates a piece that is informative, enjoyable reading. Initial comments from the participants themselves reveal this to have been a rewarding experience. New contacts were made, ideas were raised and information shared--making the Roundtable a true forum for international exchange.