If you get your news from the alternative presses online, you may have been reading about volunteering for years. But for those of us who read the mainstream rags, it may seem strange that they haven’t picked up on the volunteering trend. The benefits of volunteering are so obvious—both for the volunteers themselves and for the people they are helping overseas. But, as with any trend, a critical mass is often necessary before the mainstream media will take a real, sustained notice. That’s why it has been so exciting for us here at Journeys for Good to see so many mainstream media outlets covering volunteering over the past few weeks. Most of the recent articles I’ve found have covered volunteering from the perspective of the volunteer—illustrating the opportunities that are out there for exploration, and encouraging people of all walks of life to consider traveling to help those in need all over the world. I hope, as the movement continues to build momentum, that the mainstream media will begin to cover specific projects—to explore the many ways in which those projects have benefited local communities and to explore the role of international volunteers in changing lives and making a difference.
Last week the New York Times wrote about parents who travel to volunteer with their children. Family volunteering is something I’ve written about a lot. I don’t think the benefits of volunteering for a child can be overstated. Kids base their entire worldviews on what they see and experience when they’re young. And there are certain lessons a parent simply can’t teach within the confines of a safe suburb in America. The article discusses some of the challenges parents may face while volunteering with young children, and some of the precautions they can take to make sure their trip is productive, positive, and fun.
MSNBC’s Today Show also recently profiled volunteer travel, focusing on the many different options available for interested volunteers. In particular, they mention Cross-Cultural Solutions, a volunteer organization I have profiled here before, one that has an incredible variety of responsible, sustainable projects for volunteers of all ages. In fact, Terri Wingham, one of our recent Ripple Effect interviewees, traveled to Africa with CCS. In her words: “I chose to partner with CCS there because I knew they would take care of every little detail and ensure I felt completely safe.”
I look forward to seeing volunteering in the mainstream more often. Of course, the more people read about all of the exciting opportunities out there, the more of them will take the plunge—making journeys for good across the globe.