GeoVisions Blog

Participant Stories

Volunteer And Choose To Make A Difference With Civic Responsibility

GeoVisions is proud to present this guest post by Karen Middleton, President of Emerge America, a premier training program for Democratic women. Karen also served as a Democratic Representative for the state of Colorado and was on three committees - House Education, Business Affairs and Labor, and the Legislative Council.
Read More

Volunteering Abroad Didn't Work Out: How Do You Do The Right Thing?

I watched a TED talk today by Barry Schwartz.  I was so taken with Mr. Schwartz and the subject of "doing the right thing" that I'm embedding the video at the bottom of this post. What got my mind racing at the outset of Professor Schwartz' talk was the description of measuring a round column in relation to "rules." If you think about it, it is impossible to measure a round column using a ruler.  So to solve the problem, the Greeks fashioned a ruler that bends.  (Yeah...you can already see where Schwartz is going with this one...)
Read More

Quack Like A Duck? Walk Like A Duck? It's VolunTOURISM!

I've been reading lately some Blog posts about volunteering abroad vs. volunteering locally.  There is always something people want to write about with regard to volunteering abroad.  Ages ago people were writing about how non-profits provide the best opportunities to volunteer abroad because they are, well, non-profit.  The for-profits wrote that the notion of tax status has nothing to do with good works. Then we had Bloggers writing about NGOs vs. "middle men" sending organizations.  Those who find sending organizations "distasteful" encourage teens to find an NGO and research them and cut out the "middle man," while sending organizations site their benefits of doing the research and the risk management.  [I am a father of four and frankly, I don't trust any research they would do when it comes to vetting an NGO.] Now we're seeing posts complaining about hoards of volunteers descending upon a struggling community and ruining it.  Those complaints normally come from people in the Aid and/or Development sector.  Or people who think they are. I commented on someone's Blog a few days ago and suggested that it's time to call Voluntourism what it is.  VolunTOURISM.  Bloggers need to stop generalizing about volunteering abroad.  Site a specific example if you wish, but stop the generalizations.  It reminds me of the local sandbox. "If you don't play the game I want you to play then I'm taking my toys and going home."   All the while there is a parent standing there saying to herself, "PLEASE take your toys and go home." On this Blog, we have over on the right, a list of Blogs we find fascinating.  Over there, on the right towards the top.  See it?  A box entitled, "Blogs We Are Reading Right Now."  We don't agree with all of them, but we think you should check them out.  These are thoughtful writers with strong opinions with a massive following.  I have no issue with anyone writing a Blog post pointing out potential negative effects of volunteering abroad.  But I DO take issue with writers generalizing about it.   Many people agree that George Bush "senior" lost his reelection bid because he forgot, "It's the economy, stupid."   I'm reading a lot of interesting Blog posts these days and I'm thinking to myself, "It's volunTOURISM."  PLEASE, stop trying to make it about Aid.  It isn't.  And it doesn't pretend to be.  And if and when it does...call people out.  Or if you don't, at least be specific. Over at Voluntourism.org, Voluntourism is defined, "The conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel — arts, culture, geography, history and recreation — in that destination." In other words, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's a volunTOURIST.  Are members of the Peace Corps voluntourists?  Personally, I would answer "no."  Are voluntourists on a program of Aid or Development?  My personal view is, "no."  And if senders of voluntourists can make this distinction, and more importantly, if the voluntourists themselves can make the distinction, then why can't many Blog writers?
Read More

Operation: Music Aid Is A Locally Grown Volunteer Organization

on Sep 4, 2010 2:08:00 PM By | Randy LeGrant | 0 Comments | Volunteer Locally
I really thought I might write about our new Conversation Corps-Nepal program in this post.  But something happened on the way to the computer. My 10 year old son is playing the sax in the school band.  We went to the Madison Music Center, very near where we live, and I was surprised by what I found there.  It's where Operation:Music Aid was founded…and the current headquarters. George Hauer is the owner of the Madison Music Center.  He's 71 years old and works 7 days a week.  The company is set back in an industrial park, actually, and while not hard to find…you have to be looking.  George is an amazing character and he not only supplies musical instruments along the Shoreline of CT but he's the co-founder of Operation: Music Aid. Operation: Music Aid was founded to supply guitars and keyboards to wounded military service personnel now in military hospitals for extended care.  They supply the instruments to the hospitals and they are distributed as needed to assist in physical and psychological rehabilitation, as well as for morale. Their goal is to get an instrument to every one of our service men and women who have been injured while on assignment. All the instruments received at the hospitals become the property of the individual patients. Walking around George's music store is like walking around the Hard Rock Cafe without the loud music and videos.  Signed photos and musical instruments adorn the walls from supporters like David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jane Fonda, Petula Clark, American Idol's Katharine McPhee and others. If you're in the area, stop by and meet George.  Or check out Operation: Music Aid's website or simply email them for more information.  The first person who donates $100 to Operation Music Aid will receive a FREE Operation Music Aid T-Shirt.  On top of that, GeoVisions will match your gift up to $100 and we'll toss in a FREE Conversation Corps or Conversation Partner T-Shirt. Simply leave a comment below and let us know your name.  When we hear from Operation: Music Aid that they have received your donation, we'll send out both shirts to you.  Be sure you email us at programs@geovisions.org so we can get your shipping address. We also hope you will use the comment box below to tell us about volunteer organizations you know of locally, who are making a huge difference in people's lives.
Read More

Volunteer With Best Friends! Or Simply Strut Your Mutt

on Aug 31, 2010 11:37:00 AM By | Randy LeGrant | 0 Comments | Volunteer Locally Staying Involved Wildlife Conservation
After a long hiatus, I'm back.  What a summer.  Hot…that comes to mind first.  Hectic.  I just hadn't planned on being so busy.  I barely saw my kids.  And I've already been filling out my "dance card" for Winter 2010 and well into 2011 and that causes some pause. So to get things rolling back on the GeoVisions Blog, I'm not writing about Voluntourism or GeoVisions in this first Blog post of the fall.  I'm going to point you to another site, actually.  All about reunions. Everyone is marking the 5th Anniversary of Katrina.  Anderson Cooper 360 has actually been "keeping them honest" and having the previous administration's emergency response team talking about what they did wrong and what they would do differently today.  The interviews have been refreshing to see so many people own up to their mistakes. I'd never thought of reuniting family pets with owners and what an enormous job that would be.  Most of the volunteering we see in the Gulf consists of building and rebuilding homes, cleaning up, large construction, education and work with the hungry and homeless.  But when I saw the video over at Best Friends Animal Society, I was blown away.  I encourage you to watch their 6 minute video about how hundreds of volunteers showed up to reunite families with their pets who were left behind.  It will warm your heart and it will cause you to think differently about volunteering. Please, first watch the short video that appears below, courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society.  Then if you're so moved, check out their organization using the link above. Those of us doing this work sometimes forget to call attention to domestic organizations and the incredible work volunteers do in all walks of life.  This is me calling attention to Best Friends Animal Society and the incredible work they do to bring joy to people and animals.  It just doesn't get any better than that.  So enjoy the video:
Read More

Written by

Leave a Comment

Popular - Posts - Last - Month


See all blog topics