This series on voluntourism on my blog has been interesting for me to write…hopefully it has been interesting for someone to read too!
To share some final thoughts on the topic (for now), I want to insert a paragraph from this Daniela Pap article:
“…the reason people go abroad to volunteer is because we’re nearly all struggling with this question of “How can I do good in the world?” and looking for an answer for how we can feel satisfied that we’ve done our part.
We’re looking to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, looking to leave our mark on the world and show that it is better off because we were there, and to not sit back and relax while there is suffering going on around us. When our grandkids ask “What were YOU doing when all of this corporatocracy, environmental degradation, and increasing disparity of wealth was happening, Grandma?” No one wants to answer, “I was just reading about it in the news.” We want to jump in! Take action! Help! And one way that is being increasingly marketed to us is volunteering abroad.”
And this gem of a quote by David Clemmons in this article:
“…what is yet to come, however, from a generation that has mixed its formative years with travel & voluntary service, the world has not even begun to realize.”
For my part, I think the biggest key with voluntourism and unlocking its potential is LEARNING:
- This series has looked at some of the arguments for and against – we can learn from that.
- When you actually participate in a voluntourism program, you can learn from that.
- You can learn from the program, but you can learn from the people in the country you are working with.
I personally believe that it should start with learning – with cross-cultural understanding an intentional goal of any program, incorporating training from the start; AND if you adopt a learning attitude from the get go (i.e. I’m here to learn from you and if I can help on the way, that’s great – rather than presuming you can help) that’s even better.
It’s never quite as easy as “add knowledge and stir,” but I really think voluntorusim will create new global connections and horizons that we have not even envisioned yet.
My inner EA perfectionist feels odd at leaving this series at No. 9….but I can deal with it knowing that the future of voluntourism is still being written 🙂
Do you have any thoughts on the future of voluntourism? Feel free to share them in the comments!
Previous posts in the Voluntourism Series:
Voluntourism Part 8: Learning, not length, matters most
Voluntourism Part 7: Volunteering, Voluntourism and Tourism – what’s the difference and does it matter?
Voluntourism Part 6: And now for some positives
Voluntourism Part 5: The economics of voluntourism
Voluntourism Part 4b: As I was saying…
Voluntourism Part 4: “Us” vs. “Them”
Voluntourism Part 3: Who benefits?
Voluntourism Part 2: Who? Why?
Voluntourism Part 1: What is it?