Journal of Experiential Education
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Existing research on international service-learning (ISL) only implicitly alludes to emotions or considers emotions as a limited vehicle through which the more important work of learning occurs. This study set out to shift this focus on emotions to show how emotions are an integral part of the overall ISL experience. The aim was to understand how an ISL internship was an emotional experience for the student participants through the lens of noncognitive process theory of emotions. This was a qualitative case study of the experiences of 10 university students who engaged in an ISL internship in East Africa. Data collection instruments included preinternship surveys and emotional mind maps, postinternship surveys, and interviews. The study demonstrated that ISL can be a highly charged, emotional experience for student participants. The author argues that emotional responses are not simply a limited catalyst through which learning and transformation transpires, but constitutes forms of understanding in and of themselves. This points to the need for ISL researchers and practitioners to shift their preconceptions about the value of emotions in learning and transformation processes and attend to the emotional dimensions of ISL in their research and the implementation of these programs.