Voluntourism has been a hot topic in the media recently. Not too long ago the viral article “The Problem with Little White Girls (and Boys): Why I Stopped Being a Voluntourist” sparked some much needed conversations on the topic. We’ve noticed, however, most of the articles floating around the internet offer reasons why you shouldn’t be a volunteer tourist but not a lot of solutions. So we’ve compiled a list of recent articles highlighting ways to volunteer effectively:
In the article Know Before You Go: Key Tips for Volunteering Abroad, Part 1 featured on Volunteer Forever, you’ll find a handy list of tips summarized from the first three videos in our Know Before You Go series. Learn how to identify responsible volunteer organizations, be an effective volunteer, and continue learning and serving even after you’ve returned home.
Written by Learning Service for Everyday Ambassador, The Solution for Little White Girls (and Boys…and…Everyone…) gives an introduction to the fifth video in our recent series, “How Can I Do Good in the World?”
Also published on Everyday Ambassador, From Savior to Solidarity: An alternative for “White Girls” – and anyone else – considering international service offers another response to the popular “Problem with Little White Girls (and Boys)” article.
Rebecca Waxman, one of our very own Learning Service Ambassadors shares her thoughts on service as well as her personal experience in her piece on Medium.com, “Faux Pas of the Well-Intentioned Westerner.”
We hope you find these readings insightful! Have you found any helpful articles recently?
Claire Bennett reflects on the ethics of students volunteering abroad – what steps can young people take to ensure they find a responsible placement with positive outcomes?
Claire has worked in global education for the last 10 years. She worked on the Global Youth Action project in collaboration with Think Global and worked with teachers to embed a global dimension to the classroom. Now living in Asia, she is working with advocacy group Learning Service.
For many teachers, global citizenship education is not something we see as ending at the walls of the classroom. Whilst it is important for students to intellectually explore the issues facing our interdependent world, and reflect on connections between themselves and others across the globe, the aim of this kind of learning is that awareness translates into action. That is, learning outcomes can be measured in changing behaviour in everyday life – such as helping out the new student in the classroom or turning down the heating at home – or the larger actions it inspires – such as a student-led campaign or service projects.
Many schools encourage students to become active in their communities, some even weaving local volunteering into their curriculum. A growing way for young people who are passionate about changing the world to engage in global citizenship education is for them to take this volunteering further afield, to go abroad and offer direct ‘help’ in addressing global issues such as poverty. Your school might already have, or be considering, a partnership with a volunteer travel company offering trips for school groups.
Continue reading on Global Dimension!
“A little girl grabbed my had, sat on my lap and started reading the story of “Tinkerbell” to me. Even though I spoke absolutely no Spanish she sat on my lap reading the entire story, complete with different voices for each character.” Meaghan, one of our Learning Service Ambassadors told us about her experience volunteering in Canto Grande, Peru. “Her enthusiasm and courage showed me that if you can’t communicate with someone due to language barriers, a smile can go a long way!”
Joining the ambassador team from Massachusetts, Meaghan has been volunteering in her local community since she was 12 years old. During an “Alternative Spring Break” trip to Peru Meaghan began to think critically about what it means to be a responsible volunteer.
“I realized it was important to be aware of the possibility you might not be helping as much as you think you are. It is important to know what you can actually do to help before you go on a volunteering trip. Also, make sure the organizations and trip organizers are legitimately helping communities in the ways they say they are.”
As a Learning Service Ambassador Meaghan hopes to help people learn the importance of conducting careful research before traveling or taking on a volunteer placement.
“There are organizations that can help you be a “voluntourist” ‘in a responsible way,” Meaghan said. “I also would like people to do research before they travel on volunteer trips, so they can learn more about the culture and people they will be working with.”
For all of you preparing for a trip abroad, Meaghan advises to go with an open mind.
“I realized I learned so much more from the people of Peru than they could possibly have learned from me.”
Video 3 – Returning From Your Volunteer Experience
The third video in our series is aimed at people who have recently finished a volunteering experience, and are wondering how they can transfer the knowledge they’ve gained to their lives back home. It offers useful tips on how you can share your experience with others and continue supporting the causes you believe in.