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A culturally relevant symbol: Participant engagement in a volunteer tourism music-conservation youth education program

Abstract
TTRA 2018 Short Abstract A culturally relevant symbol: Participant engagement in a volunteer tourism music-conservation youth education program Abstract Volunteer-led travel educational programs focus on diverse community initiatives. Daraja Music Initiative (DMI), a US-Tanzanian nonprofit, indicates they are “providing an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability through music...by actively engaging students and the community with the power of music” (DMI, 2018). Thirteen interviews and four focus groups were conducted with volunteer tourists, community members and youth, during summer 2017 in Moshi, Tanzania, in order to seek perspectives on what engagement means and explore the concept of engagement through a new theoretical framework. Findings suggest engagement in a volunteer tourism program (connection, communication and hope) is through a culturally relevant symbol, and has linkages to the study of semiotics (Mick, 1986). Study implications can be beneficial for community development and collaborative planning, as well as contribution to engagement theory, sustainable tourism and volunteer tourism research. Key words: Engagement Theory, Volunteer Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Community and Youth Voices, Semiotics
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