What’s wrong with volunteer travel?: Daniela Papi at TEDxOxbridge

If you haven’t seen this video – you have to check it out. As always, way to go Daniela.

What do you think? Start the debate!

6 thoughts on “What’s wrong with volunteer travel?: Daniela Papi at TEDxOxbridge

  1. This is a very interesting video, glad there are thought leaders like Daniela asking these important questions. Makes me wonder… what are the best resources available (video/paper/articles) that every volunteer should watch/read before going abroad, regardless of destination/project? Something directed to the volunteer that will help them understand the concept of “Learning before Service”, as Daniela puts it, and setting the right expectations for this life-changing experience?

    I know many volunteer placement orgs have their own articles/tips, and it seems like there’s a new blog every week about the issues of volunteering abroad. But Alexia are there a few resources we should all be using to provide a foundation for volunteers and give them the right context around what they’re about to do? It’s not the structural change that Daniela is talking about, but for those of us that don’t run volunteer placement orgs it may be something actionable we can do around helping to continue the conversation…

    Billy Beltz
    Volunteer Forever

  2. Great video! I completely agree with the claims about sympathy tourism and service learning. At Investours, we believe in educational and experiential travel, and using travel as a means to contribute directly to the local economy. There are too many voluntours out there that do more harm than good, and so much potential for students to learn and be inspired to give back in the future.

    At Investours, we bring small groups of travelers to meet local artisans who have applied for loans to grow their small business projects. They learn about local culture, traditions, daily life, and the microfinance process, and later we use tour fees to fund 100% interest-free loans.

    We have hosted several school groups and also offer internship programs with a focus on professional development for students interested in development work. Learn more at http://www.investours.org.

  3. Hi Billy –

    Thanks for the comments. PEPY Tours started doing responsible tourism training and development education training in Cambodia for other tour companies and tour guides this year. We also have a list of readings we recommend people read before our trips – but most of them are not Cambodia specific. In looking at the list now (which we made a few years ago) I think it could be updated – but hopefully most is still useful: http://www.pepytours.com/responsible-tourism/tips-for-the-responsible-traveler We also keep an ongoing reader which we update here: http://reader.pepytours.com/

    Priscilla Macy of Global Sojourns also has some fabulous resources: http://lessonsilearned.org/2009/09/resources-for-travelers/

    If we organize another voluntourism conference – I’d be happy to share more of these resources/ideas there.

    Would love to see resources from other groups as well! Please share!

  4. Absolutely loved this talk. We are currently putting together a book for our volunteers that talks about this. A book that hopefully makes our volunteers ask more questions and use a critical eye while on their travels.
    I too took part in some volunteering that made me question the sustainability of the projects and the model that was being used for so called development. I’m so pleased that there is a whole community that is pushing back and asking the questions I’m asking too. I feel like I learned A LOT from my experiences and I don’t want those lessons to go to waste so I’m happy there is a much bigger forum out there to teach others about these lessons before they have to make them abroad.
    I will be looking through these resources very happily.
    Thank you for opening up our minds and challenging the systems.
    Nora Livingstone

    Animal Experience International

  5. Hi Alexia, it´s been a long time!
    I contacted you a couple times in 2009 when I was writing my thesis about Voluntourism.
    Since then I got envolved with other things, but now I am trying to get back to the voluntourism industry and of course I couldn´t avoid to come here to your page 😉
    I am starting a blog about it. You know, we don´t have much information on Portuguese, and I really want to help other people from Brazil to have information and also encourage them to be part of this activity…
    Hope it works!

    Just loved Daniela Papi´s video.
    When I was writing the thesis for my Master I contacted Daniela because I was looking for a project in Cambodia, but I had just 1 month available to stay in the country and she told I could not be part of the project for such a short time…
    At that time I got a little bit sad, but now I understand her point… Voluntourists must really help and be a responsable part of the project, and sometimes they only do harm.
    The industry needs to stop people who want to take advantage of the voluntourism just to get some money from it.
    When I was researching I found some projetcs you would not believe… some projetcs in which the volunteers go to build schools in the desert that never get ready… really weird things… a shame!
    It´s good to know that there are also good and responsable people like you and Daniela in the industry, as many others…

    Kisses from Brazil, Pri

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