Write Your Story 02.jpeg

GeoVisions Blog

Participant Stories

Is Voluntourism Really A Compromised Industry?

On 24 November, cnngo.com ran an article by Richard Stupart entitled " Voluntourism does more harm than good."  The tag line read, "Orphan-huggers create a market for orphans; well-builders take work from locals; and other things ethical travelers should know." I'm going to approach Mr. Stupart's article from two perspectives: He's right. But the focus really should be on "The result has been a boom in tour companies offering voluntourism opportunities in a wide range of destinations, catering to all levels of commitment." I have noticed that everyone is cashing in on Voluntourism (including the press) and I wish some great writer out there would do an article on the damage THAT causes.  Bugger the "goodie-two-shoes" articles. Those people are just there and will insert themselves into a situation abroad and at home because they simply have nothing else to do.  Resorts, cruise lines and hotels offer 2-3 hour voluntourism projects and call it sustainable tourism. Mr. Stupart sums it up nicely and as accurately as I've ever seen it put.  "There can be no easy decisions when attempting to weigh up how to volunteer, or whether to volunteer at all.  Nevertheless, there is a world of difference between ill-considered decisions taken for the purpose of stroking a traveler's ego, and subjective decisions to volunteer after properly considering as much of the moral and practical detail of your engagement as possible." For quite sometime, GeoVisions has provided a document, "Where Does My Money Go" in answer to that exact question by some of our volunteers.  And on many of our program pages, we actually provide a list of items that get paid with a volunteer's money.  This activity came with trying to be "all things transparent." How wonderful would it be if all of the responsible voluntourism providers (really, there are a few) wrote their own document explaining why volunteers participate on their projects and precisely (measured objectively) what good comes from it. How will your work be more beneficial than sending money? If you and your friends invested money in a project abroad (after doing research and interviewing project directors), would that be more sustainable? On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how much of wanting to go abroad is all about your ego?  Or that you had horrible parents? Why aren't you voluntouring in your own country? Why are you taking a tax deduction on volunteering abroad? Why aren't you spending money in your own country, and giving up the tax deduction to pay your fair share? How much research did you do about where you're going and why you should even be there? Those are questions we have been asking ourselves here at GeoVisions over the last year.  And what are the answers? 
Read More

Either Way You Will Pay To Volunteer Abroad

A week or two ago, almost fearless, Christine Gilbert's Blog, ran a guest post entitled "Should You Pay to Volunteer Abroad?" The post was from Shannon Whitehead who took two years out to volunteer abroad and ended up not paying much at all for the experience.
Read More

All I Need Is A Really Cool Flag

A former student of mine posted this today on his Facebook Wall:
Read More

You Want Me To Pay To Do What? Paying To Volunteer Abroad

The 10th most popular page on our website is Why Do I Have To Pay?  This page is always in the top 10 page views.  Why? It's a valid question.  And on that page we attempt to be as transparent as possible with how we spend your hard-earned money. That's why, when this week 2 Blog posts came out about this question, I was very pleased, to say the least.  I want to direct our readers to these two posts, because they each take a very different slant towards paying to volunteer, yet they both support it.  Again, supporting it for very different reasons. One of the best articles on paying to volunteer comes from the Volunteer Before You Die Network.  Consistently, their posts and tweets are thought provoking and right on target.  Their recent post, "You Want Me To Pay To Do What? Thoughts On Paying Third Parties To Volunteer" was superb and explains how Nola Lee Kelsey (head of the Network) came from rejecting the idea, to understanding the reasons for paying to volunteer.  I encourage you to read the post and leave your comments.  I left some comments and I invite you to go to the post and read those as well. By the way…Volunteer Before You Die has a new book coming out entitled 700 Places To Volunteer Before You Die and will be available July 1 this year.  If you have a twitter account, I recommend following @volunteerB4Udie and be a part of the conversation. The next Blog post that came out was by Sarah Van Aucken who is the creative genius for Volunteer Global. She works tirelessly on all things "volunteering" and she is known as a bright spot in the field. "What To Ask Before You Pay To Volunteer On Your Career Break" is a great post.  Sarah decided to skip over the "why do I have to pay" argument and go straight for the "why do some organizations charge $15 per week while others cost upwards of $7,000 per week?"  She does a fantastic job answering the question and then ends the post with 10 questions you should ask the agency. If you have reconciled that you are going to pay to volunteer…read Sarah's post and start asking organizations these 10 questions.  Sarah has done you a favor and if you'll take the time to ask sending organizations these 10 questions, you will choose the right organization and project.  Also, follow Sarah on Twitter for great insights on volunteering abroad. I've been doing this work for 35 years.  I always enjoy telling people that the three Founders of GeoVisions have a combined 105 years doing this work.  Oh do we have stories to tell!  More importantly, we appreciate the work of Volunteer Before You Die and Volunteer Global and others who dedicate their time and money to moving this work forward, and expecting senders and receivers of volunteers to be responsible and innovative.  Through their work, even after we are gone, they are creating a legacy of volunteering, volunteering abroad and voluntourism.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.
Read More

Why Do I Have To Pay To Volunteer-Part 2

on Sat, Mar 06, 2010 By | Randy LeGrant | 2 Comments | Why Do I Have To Pay To Volunteer Volunteering Abroad
Read More

Recent Posts


see all