OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES, “voluntourism” has become a popular and socially recognized phenomenon. One of the most visible forms of this trend has been the emergence of ‘third-world’ volunteer-tourism programs, which aim to incorporate the hedonism of tourism with the altruism of development work. Such programs make the practice of international development knowable, accessible, and doable for young travelers.
It’s easy for these kinds of travel trends to accelerate at such a fast pace that we forget to pause and think about the impact they’re having on our culture and the culture of others. My anthropological thesis was focused on this topic, and I have personally engaged in voluntourism in various countries in South and Southeast Asia. My experiences took me on an emotional roller coaster of hugely rewarding highs and devastating lows where I questioned my personal motivations and morals.
We welcome you to a conversation to discuss this phenomenon and its place in the travel industry. Please join us as we explore the topic in our next #MatUTalks Twitter chat, to be held on Thursday, September 18, at 2:30 EDT.
We will also be giving away a copy of Daniel Baylis’s The Traveller during the chat via a random drawing of participants:
“As Daniel Baylis approached his 30th birthday, he asked himself a tough question: Who’s at the steering wheel of my life? The verdict came back unclear, so he decided to take immediate action. He gave up his job and his rent-controlled apartment to tackle one of his biggest dreams – to travel the world. With an objective to not only see places but also to experience them, Baylis spent an entire year sampling a variety of volunteer positions. From an elementary schoolroom in Peru, to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Fest, to an organic goat farm hidden in the hills of Galilee (and many places and projects in between), he dove headfirst into immersive travel experiences.”