In the framework of an ongoing wider research about the impact of the Raising Peace campaign, which also includes field visits and community interviews, volunteers involved in the actions part of the campaign answered a quantitative survey using pretest/posttest design aimed at assessing the changes brought to the volunteers by the program. The questionnaires included eleven standard constructs related to general competences the participants are expected to acquire and improve on international voluntary service projects; additional and complementary measures developed to address the specific common goals of CCIVS global campaigns, focusing around issues of Peace, Social Inclusion, Human Rights, Climate Justice and Sustainable Living; and also explored the volunteers’ personal understanding and priorities within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework.
In terms of competences, at the personal level Raising Peace participants reported after the camp a stronger ability to stay focused on their tasks and an increased preference for taking initiatives; while they also indicated a slightly more emotional response to problems, volunteers felt more capable to find alternative solutions and understand them as opportunities for growth. In this sense, it is significant that at the interpersonal level participants considered themselves to be more able after their projects to communicate with people from different cultural and social background, less afraid of conflicts and more confortable in facing them. This is vividly reflected also at the social level, with the most significant change reported by the volunteers being a strong increase in their feeling of living in a diverse and inclusive society, and an overall resulting higher score in the Satisfaction With Life Scale – meaning participants simply also felt happier.
But the impact of international voluntary service as a Non Formal Education tool is not only visible in terms of personal, interpersonal and social competences: after their participation in the actions of the Raising Peace campaign, volunteers also reported a better appreciation of key societal issues that are at the core of the volunteer effort. They feel to have gained a deeper understanding of the peace movement and its actions, as well as of the international voluntary service movement itself; and they also report a stronger understanding of specific rights and actions that contribute to the larger meaning of peace as promoted by the campaign: in particular of water and land rights, bio-construction and earth building, and carbon offsets actions. These can also be considered a first step towards promoting a more sensitive approach to sustainable traveling, as Raising Peace volunteers reported to have covered over 1,700km more than participants in other CCIVS campaigns more specifically addressing environmental issues, like Climate Justice, also favoring airplane as their main mean of transport more often (64% versus 46%).
Finally, important changes can be underlined also in the way in which, after the projects, volunteers looked at global issues as exemplified in their understanding of the SDGs: while the third of participants considering Climate Action (Goal n.13) as one of the most important items remained constant, there were crucial increases in the percentage of those considering as priorities important climate-related goals such as Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal n.6), Life Below Water, and Life on Land (Goals n. 14-15). But the impact of Raising Peace is particularly well reflected in the remarkable changes in terms of accrued consideration by the volunteers of SDGs more specifically connected to the goals of the campaign: more participants reported considering after their projects as absolute priorities Goal n. 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, 28%), Goal n.1 (No Poverty, 33%); Goal n. 5 (Gender Equality, 43%); and especially Goal n. 4 (Quality Education, 77%), showing how the actions put in place by the campaign influenced important changes at every level, from the volunteers’ personal growth to their vision of the world and its future.