Globe & Mail – People Turn to Voluntourism When Economy Declines

I worked with the reporter on this story and she really did a great job, worth a read!

Back in May, 2007, Jean-François Gagnon’s ticket to self-discovery came in the form of a pink slip.

At 27, he’d just been laid off from his communications job at Collège Boréal, a francophone school with an office in Toronto. He’d always wanted to work abroad, but the daily grind put an information technology internship he’d wanted to do, with Aides Médicales et Charité, on the backburner.

“It wasn’t my first idea, ‘I’m getting laid off so I’ll go overseas,’ ” he says. “But then I had this package, time to think. I thought, ‘This may be time to just do it.’ ”

He applied and by September he was in Togo, where he built and managed computer databases for HIV/AIDS research statistics.

After returning to Canada and starting the job hunt, Mr. Gagnon found the volunteer experience was often brought up in interviews.

“When they asked ‘What is one of your biggest accomplishments?’ I always said it was this.”

Volunteering abroad is looking more and more appealing to those stuck at home mourning the loss of their 9 to 5 because of the economic storms that continue to fuel job losses across the country.

It’s also attractive to employers who have in recent years included corporate social responsibility in their mandate. Non-profit/relief/charitable organizations say they’re fielding more calls from people who say they’d rather put their time to good use than spend hopeless months trying to tap into a bone-dry job market.

Read the full article at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090202.wlvolunteer02/BNStory/lifeWork/home

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