No matter who you are—a young professional, an inner-city high school student with big dreams, an empty nester, a college graduate, or a stay-at-home mom—when you’re planning a voluntour, you need good information. Once you’ve decided to voluntour, you’ve taken the first step, and that’s a big accomplishment. You’ve probably thought long and hard about what you want out of life, what you care about, and how you want to make a difference. It’s a life-changing decision and you’re well on your way, but there’s more to be done!
Deciding where to go, what organization to support, what projects matter to you, how long you’ll travel, how much you can spend… it can feel overwhelming. There are so many good organizations out there. The Internet is a wonderful thing—it makes finding opportunities easier—but it’s vast and un-vetted. It can be a real task to sort through the melee, to find the opportunities that really speak to you, that really fit.
Fortunately, there is a website dedicated to just that: helping people learn everything there is to know about voluntouring, from the academic to the practical. Voluntourism.org is a massive resource for anyone affiliated with or interested in voluntouring, including: organizations, educators, host communities, travel planners, and individual travelers. Their newsletter offers in-depth articles on specific projects alongside commentary on voluntouring culture from experts in the field.
Voluntouring is more than volunteering and it’s more than traveling. It combines adventure and exploration with humanitarian aid. It lies at the intersection of personal growth and international development. It’s about building bridges between countries. It’s about weaving us together in fundamental ways—connecting people from different worlds on the same plane, face-to-face, life-to-life. There is so much to be learned about the ways we help each other: how to help without imposing our own values, how to honor other cultures, how to educate effectively, and how to leave a place richer and healthier than it was when we arrived.
David Clemmons, founder of Voluntourism.org:
Voluntourism.org provides a wealth of information—research, commentary, and multimedia resources—for anyone interested in learning more, or in planning their own voluntour. The Voluntourism Research Anthology, a book of scholarly research on voluntourism co-edited by David Clemmons (founder of Voluntourism.org) and Dr. Nancy Gard McGehee will be available in May. It is a compilation of research articles first presented in the VolunTourist Newsletter, divided into themes including: marketing & research, development, culture, niche segments, theory, resident attitudes, and voluntourists. It will be a great resource for an exploration of the academic side of voluntourism and illustrates how Voluntour-related businesses can encourage travelers through education. So relax, put your feet up, and read away!