I recently spent a few weeks volunteering in central France at a community venture called La Giraudiere near Brossac – helping with their social media and marketing.
When deciding on volunteer projects abroad, it is extremely important to ensure that you consider where you are going, what you will be doing, and whether they really need your help. It seems that, despite good intentions, some volunteer programs can have an adverse affect on the communities that need support.
Voluntourism is formally defined as volunteer travel, volunteer vacations, volunteer tourism or voluntourism is travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. But more recently has been made infamous by Pippa Biddle. If you’re not already familiar, check out her post that gives an uncensored firsthand critique of voluntourism here. Pippa characterizes voluntourism by the white savior complex and professes that white people are the “problem”. While its history is founded in creating the racial superiority of white people, I don’t think voluntourism has as much to do with race as much as it does culture and socioeconomic status.
However I can appreciate what she’s speaking to. Too often have I had to witness my friends of other races (than black) have the ah-ha moment, and not only be a witness to it but also have to be the catalyst for it. Even then sometimes…
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