Voluntourism – what is that?
Voluntourism is a mixture of volunteering and tourism which makes us calling it “voluntourism”. It means that beside voluntary work the volunteers participate in tourism offers (like safaris and whatsoever) which can be chosen before departure (like a rather exotic or adventurous programme, and so on). So basically the whole “volunteer programme” is based on the wishes of the volunteers.
Why I used quotation marks here? Well, voluntourism officially doesn't belong to volunteering but to tourism. It actually is a form of tourism which usually lasts around 3 weeks and aims to improve the personal reputation or increase the own prestige. More and more people abuse voluntourism as a form of volunteering to put themselves in a good light but here is what comes next:
Why is Voluntourism not cool?
Voluntourism betrays the very basic values volunteers should believe in and doesn't reflect the foundation of values every volunteer should be working on. Furthermore it is no help for people who are actually asking for help ! Volunteers who have the wrong motivation fail to gain the social and professional key competences of a voluntary service.
Often these volunteers are not able to connect with foreign culture and people because of inequality in all fields and even bring damage to the foreign culture/tradition and environment in some cases. The phenomena of a “zoo of people” (see picture above) is also well-known among researchers working on this type of tourism.
It is however fair to mention that there are always some exceptions and people who do a voluntary service for the same purpose “normal” volunteers do. But in general I would say that if you really want to volunteer this is the wrong address for it as it doesn't put the main purposes of volunteering in the foreground but pleasure and tourism. To come to an end I would like to recommend a website called "Barbie Savior" which documents the story of two girls criticizing voluntourism in Africa. Definitely worth a read-through !
Luka Paul Vethake
Quote of the day:
"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention."
~ Oscar Wilde
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