VolunTourism is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to exercise
our co-operative mojo, to mature beyond a competitive,
non-integral view of our humanity and to embrace the harmony
that exists amongst and between.
This is not to imply that we
will form a clone-like homogeneity of travel experiences, but we
will be well-suited to apply strategic thought and scientific
process in evolving the intersection of voluntary service and
travel & tourism.
As the heart cannot cannibalize the kidneys nor the liver and
maintain a healthy body, it seems prudent that we seek to
harmonize the relationship between economy and goodwill -
neither of which is capable, any longer, of standing dominant in
complete defiance of the 'natural order.' Tourism is the engine;
volunteerism is the deliverable. For now, VolunTourism serves as
a reminder that transition is possible, rather than
painstakingly inevitable. We no longer need be bludgeoned by
negative experience in order to reinvent our approach or alter
our habits. VolunTourism gives us a chance to rewrite our
collective DNA in a manner that does not completely annihilate
the existing system. Trial & error and experimentation are open
and available to us. I suggest we begin the process... today.
If we are to progress toward a cooperative phase in our human
evolution, it is essential that we focus on the 99.9 percent
sameness that exists. This is no less true as it pertains to
VolunTourism. As long as we continue to seek differentiation
between volunteerism and tourism, we are likely to remain in our
juvenile competitive phase. Instead, let's take a look at eight
factors that are equally important to both. These are, in no
• Authenticity, and
By far the easiest item to discover from the list of common
roots between volunteerism and tourism is SERVICE. Service is
the heart of both. Without it, neither can be successful in
achieving desired outcomes.
In particular, we are referring to two aspects of experience -
the 'experience' itself (what occurs) and the 'experience'
(wisdom, personal insight, etc.) gained by the participant. Each
is integrated into volunteering and touristic activities.
Whether investment is measured monetarily or as a product of
time, both are relevant in the context of volunteerism and
tourism. Although money may be seen as the greater of the two
investments where tourism is concerned, time is no less a
commodity in that context. Time, or lack thereof, is the item
most often selected by those who are 'unable' to volunteer, yet
to have the flexibility (often expressed as financial
wherewithal) to be able to volunteer is equally important.
At first glance, this may raise some eyebrows into question
mode. Repetition, however, is the life-blood of volunteerism.
Volunteers need to keep coming back. For tourism, repetition is
akin to the 'holy grail.' It is the great hope of members of
that sector that travellers will repeat their visitations year
Travel or volunteering without passion is flat, aimless, and
utterly disappointing for all involved.
When travel and volunteering are infused with passion, however,
the fruits of either are laden with a savoury flavour that is
Without purpose one can become very lost while volunteering or
travelling. Purpose gives meaning and answers the 'Why?'
question, as this question will invariably resurface many, many
times throughout the course of either experience.
Keep it real. This should be the motto of every volunteering
stint and certainly for all travel. Authenticity represents the
foundation upon which the choice to continue volunteering and/or
travelling is ultimately made.
It is easy to identify the potential for external learning to
occur in both settings - volunteering and traveling. What is
less conspicuous to the untrained eye, however, is the learning
that occurs internally - a better understanding of self,
preferences & aversions, judgments, etc. This, of course, is
enhanced when taken in the context of the contributions of such
experiences to 'life-long' learning.