Voluntourism Uncovered: Toward a Standard for Meaningful Work
thesisposted on 01.01.2019, 00:00 authored by Emily Wood
Many university students want to make a difference in the world by volunteering abroad. Volunteer tourism, or voluntourism, is a type of travel program in which participants have the chance to “give back to the community.” Programs are typically short term and can include work with orphanages, construction, or other fields in which participants often have little knowledge or few skills to offer. Critics have claimed that voluntourism may be more damaging than helpful. This study examines the voluntourism industry, its stated goals, and its effects on host communities. Methods utilized are content-analysis of program websites as well as interviews with personnel in host organizations, university study abroad offices, and potential and returning voluntourists. The goal of this analysis is to generate criteria for evaluating voluntourism programs. These criteria can be used by study abroad offices and implementing organizations to identify ethical and sustainable programs that work closely with host communities and participants and achieve the goals that they intend to. Hopefully this can create a standard for potential participants to identify which organizations are beneficial for host communities. Because opportunities for voluntourism are not going to disappear anytime soon, it is essential to raise awareness and promote programming that is meaningful to both host communities and voluntourists.