An Austrian philosopher who founded the Intercultural Documentation Center in Mexico, Ivan Illich was known as a “maverick social critic” of contemporary Western culture. It is from this stance that Illich delivers his 1968 address at the Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In his usual biting and sarcastic style, Illich's address, for whom his audience is a group of U.S. volunteers, depicts the dangers of paternalism inherent in voluntary service, but especially in any international service “mission.” Just as he brought American volunteers' motives, values, and capacity to ‘do good' into question in 1968, Illich equally brings volunteers' motives, values, and capacity to ‘do good' into question today. Is national and/or international service pretentious? Do we impose our own way of life on the people we serve? How do we serve people if we cannot communicate in the same language as them? Is this possible?
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Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.
Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceFaith and BeliefImpact and OutcomesKnowledge and UncertaintyMotives and ValuesPoverty and NeedPower and PrivilegeServing and VolunteeringSocial and Political ChangeSpeech and ExpressionWork and Vocation
How do we connect with those who are different from us?How do we know the impact of our actions?Why do we reflect? What makes reflection difficult?Can selfish motives result in positive action?What is the appropriate response to privilege?Why do we serve?What enables change? What gets in the way?How does language define our worldview?What is the value of work for me? For my community?