Before we get into the pros and cons of
voluntourism, let’s take a quick look at some other general aspects of this
topic (click here if you missed Voluntourism Part 1: What is it?
Who participates in voluntourism?
For the most part, the demographic driving
this phenomenon has been young high school students, gap year students,
university students and graduates. It has also started to include a large
amount of “baby boomers”, as they hit their golden retirement years and want to
explore the world.
What motivates people to participate in
volunteering as the new form of travelling? Well, quite a number of things
really. Usually there is a sense of excitement in visiting somewhere that’s “off
the beaten track” that “normal” tourists take. There’s also a desire to “do
something good” for the world. Gen Y’s have demonstrated that they have a
passion to ‘fix’ the world and a lot of them have a desire to help with the
social injustices they read and hear about it. A trip volunteering abroad is
also thought of as a good thing to have on your resume, as it creates a
stronger awareness of international issues, can enhance cross-cultural
communication skills and demonstrates you have good values (ie you’re seen as “a
good person”). Occasionally it can also have spiritual or religious motivations
too, such as going on a pilgrimage, conducting ‘outreach’ or having a personal
learning/growth experience (Eat, Pray, Love and the like).
These motivations can cause heated
discussions e.g. are you volunteering overseas to get recognition from people
or because you actually want to do something good or because you want to grow
yourself – and which of these motivations is ‘bad’ and which is ‘good’ is also
But more of that to come in the next parts
of this series. Can you think of any other motivations? List them in the
comments below 🙂