Written by Amanda Mitchell
Exploring foreign cities, meeting interesting people, tasting local cuisines – the reasons we love travel are endless. Recently volunteering has risen in the ranks of what motivates us to venture abroad. Every year more people jet across the world looking for ways to “give back” or “make a difference” to the communities who host us while traveling.
As with any growing trend, volunteer travel receives its fair share of criticism. Volunteers are often blamed for contributing to dependency, offering unsustainable solutions, and taking locals’ jobs. Spending some time uncovering the negative effects international volunteers can have on communities can become overwhelming and leave you wondering if volunteering is even worth it.
As our name implies, at Learning Service we believe if you want to truly make your service count, learning should come first. Sure, you might find that what is most needed is someone to edit reports or organize files, which definitely isn’t as glamorous spending the week playing with children, but you’ll leave knowing you made a contribution to the organization’s long-term goals.
Learning about responsible volunteer practices can be daunting so we put together a series of videos to help.
The first three videos walk you through the volunteering process, from finding a responsible placement to applying what you learned to life back home.
- Finding a Responsible Volunteer Placement
- Being a Valuable Volunteer
- Returning From Your Volunteer Experience
The next three videos look at specific issues or questions.
Did you know in Cambodia more than 75% of the children living in orphanages have one or more living parents? Even though the number of actual orphans is decreasing the rate of children living in orphanages has grown with the rate of tourism. Whether you are volunteering or just visiting, our fourth video offers valuable insight into the dangers of orphanage tourism.
Curious about why so many people choose to spend their vacations volunteering we starting asking around and discovered most were looking to answer the question: How can I do good in the world? In case you’re wondering the same thing, our fifth video outlines steps to make the most of your good intentions.
Once you’re all set to hop on a plan and accomplish your mission to do good, stock up on our tips for responsible travel. If you’re staying a week or a year, understanding a culture before you arrive will only make your travels more enjoyable.
Alongside the video series we created the “Know Before You Go” competition. After watching, viewers can answer questions and be entered in a drawing for travel gear, a pair of KEEN shoes, and the grand prize: a three-day stay in Siem Reap Cambodia!
If you’d like more information about how to volunteer and travel responsibly check out the resources available on the Learning Service website: learningservice.info or contact us directly via firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to enter the contest at learningservice.info/videocontest/!