Tag Archive for Voluntourism

International Volunteering: A Shift in Thinking

Here is the third blog entry from our 2014 Volunteer Coordinator, Ruth Taylor.

As I sit here writing this blog (my third for KickStart Ghana), the world is facing a reality not ever experienced before. The human race, for the first time in history, is with the means to eradicate poverty from the face of the earth. We have the medicine, we have the knowledge, we have the money. All that remains to be seen is whether or not we have the will.

From my previous two posts, you’d be excused if you thought I’m some kind of hyper-critic of international volunteering in all its many forms – perhaps you even think I’d be on the side of seeing the discontinuation of the sector as a whole. Although, not entirely wrong, there is little I agree with more than the hugely transformative experience which volunteering abroad can bring about. If you want to learn about another culture and experience it first hand, if you want to form and develop relationships which span borders and oceans, if you want your acceptance of the status quo to be challenged wholeheartedly and your worldview to undergo detox and replenishment a thousand-fold, then volunteering overseas is your thing. Not all projects are going to tick the boxes – and of course much onus is on the mentality of the volunteer themselves and their willingness to be tried and tested – but when done right, when done in partnership and with longevity in mind, I truly believe that volunteering abroad has the potential to usher in a new, truly global form of citizenship whose repercussions could see the realities we so often choose to push to the back of our minds, label as ‘someone else’s responsibility’, or allow to cripple us under their immensity, be slowly but surely changed until the time when the world is spinning on a different type of axis – one of true equality, where the playing fields are level and people of all nations have every opportunity to succeed.

International volunteering is complicated – far more than the majority of people care to admit or are even aware of – and although, as a sector, we seem to have manoeuvred ourselves into a decidedly prickly corner, messing with people’s lives and livelihoods in the name of a current ‘Western trend,’ I still believe that out of the mire could come something beautiful.
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Volunteering Abroad with Children: A game of double standards?

Here is the second blog entry from our 2014 Volunteer Coordinator, Ruth Taylor.

Let me ask you. How many times have you logged onto Facebook and been greeted with a newly-updated profile picture of one of your friends, volunteer-smile intact, affectionately cuddling a small, rather grubby-looking child, from an unknown African nation? Once? Twice? Too many times to recall?

If you haven’t experienced it personally, you’ll probably be aware of the growing phenomenon sweeping schools, colleges and Universities across the Western world. In search of adventure and a desire to break normalcy, our young people, during their gap years or summer holidays, are jetting off to volunteer (more often than not, with children) in countries across the Global South… It’s become a craze. Like over-reliance on Apple products and an addiction to Starbucks, voluntourism is becoming something by which this generation is being defined. It’s almost come to be seen as a rite of passage (albeit for the relatively well-off) – something you do before, during or after University. Something which will ‘set you apart’ and help you land your £40k-starting-salary graduate job.
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