Voluntourism: Creating Opportunities for Meaningful Travel


With the new semester well under way and the depths of winter bringing about grey days, students may already be considering their plans for summer intersession. We certainly wouldn’t blame you if they included a warmer climate. For students seeking travel with a greater purpose and cultural connection, volunteering abroad presents a unique opportunity.

There are varying degrees of voluntourism, a term that has recently been targeted by critics of international development. There’s no foul in a humble act of volunteering a special skillset but it’s imperative that participants carefully vet prospective organizations. Students studying technical disciplines make especially great candidates for voluntouring. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to build experience, and explore areas of further career specialization or academic research.

Tips for responsible volutourism:

  • Sustainability: is the project/organization executed by locals?
  • Esure your presence isn’t reverse outsourcing.’ For example, performing manual labor may result in fewer jobs for local construction workers.
  • What tangible skills are can you contribute?
  • Are you prepared to deal with culture shock?
  • Do you have realistic expectations of a voluntour experience?

Voluntouring doesn’t have to be an international pursuit. Organizations such as Frontiers Foundation run programs right here in Canada.

Learn more about it here!

Article author: Jenn Larsen

Photo Credit: http://www.seeds.is/pictures-iceland/236


By Anthea Low
Residence AdvisorAnthea Low's Photo

Favourite city to shop in…
I visited Melbourne for the third time this past summer, and 50% of my time there was spent shopping (or window shopping). One of my biggest frustrations from living in Vancouver is the taxes that get added to the price tags. When I decide to buy a top for $12, that decision was based on $12 and not $12 + GST + PST. Not that Melbourne shopping is tax free, but they have already built those amounts into the prices of items. Plus, they had amazing sales when I was there!

Somewhere I wish I went when I was older…
I visited Egypt when I was 13. Even though I feel very privileged to have traveled there, I was unable to appreciate the historical and cultural value of this amazing country at that age. Given the chance to visit again, I think I’d be even more impressed by the grandeur of what Egypt has to offer.

Somewhere I wish I could visit again…
My trip to Korea was one of the rare ones where we had joined a tour group. I’ve heard so many great things about Seoul (in relation to shopping especially) that don’t exactly match up to my personal experience. Our tour went to the key “attractions” like Lotte World and Namdaemun market, but the natural rush of all tour groups did not give us the time to fully enjoy the place. Definitely want to give it a second shot!

#1 on my wish list…
I don’t really know why…I just want to go 🙂