Posts Tagged ‘washington post’

In December 13’s Washington Post, Travel Section there was an interesting article about a young woman who traveled to Mexico on a “voluntourism” trip. This is a new trend, with either nonprofits connecting travelers to opportunities abroad or tourism companies capitalizing on a different type of vacationer.

The woman in the article was similar to myself in a lot of ways and perhaps why I found her article both inspiring and disappointing. She seemed to come at her trip from the “charity” mindset, one in which she was the giver and the Mexicans were the receivers. From this perspective there can only be one person who has something to give and the attention on the Mexican community is with their needs and problems, not their own community and what they have to offer her in the way of a better cultural understanding.

In general I thought that the follow up feature about how to undertake a voluntourism trip was quite good, except for the section about whether or not to use a pass-through organization.  It seems like it may go against the whole point of voluntourism to use a company from the United States that handles all aspects of your trip, including the volunteering portion.  It is always the community that you are helping that knows what type of help they need and how you can be a part of the solution.  In contrast, the model that is being promoted seems to be a direct carryover from our international development model of implementing “solutions” that were derived here in think tanks rather than through talking with the local community.


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