This qualitative case study explores how a group of Canadian youth negotiated their encounters with others’ poverty and their own privilege in the context of a short-term international volunteer experience in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through a thematic analysis of retrospective narrative interviews – informed by whiteness studies – this article describes participants’ experiences of discomfort arising from 1) their encounters with material poverty and 2) their ability to maintain their own privilege(s) overseas. Collectively, the data illuminate the various defensive strategies and explanatory frameworks that young people might employ when confronted with destabilizing information in unfamiliar international settings.

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