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"Is 'voluntourism' the new colonialism?"

Illustration for article titled Is voluntourism the new colonialism?

This new article from ABC Austrailia perfectly sums up why the idea of "volunteer vacations" (often called Alternative Spring Break in the US) have always made me so uncomfortable. I have included an excerpt but I highly suggest you read the entire article.

Papi thinks the positive aspects of volunteer travel are hindered when a group of travellers believes it's their responsibility to fix the lives and communities of another. She says that young travellers have good intentions, but what's missing is a humility and thoughtfulness that acknowledges that they don't know anything about the culture and language of their host country, and what's been tried there before or who's leading the changes.

'It's done for the experience of the volunteer', says Roger O'Halloran, the executive director of PALMS, an NGO that was born out of the Catholic social movement of lay missionaries. 'It's all about the volunteer, with the pretence of helping someone, and I don't buy it.'


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