This CBC radio interview was recently shared with me.
these were some highlights:
* Learn before you teach
* Much of voluntourism is colonially motivated: wanting to leave tangible/visible legacies behind.
* Just because you come from privilege, money, and are educated, doesn’t mean you should be the educatOR
And these were some questions: where is the balance between community investment and self education… The example of the central american tourism company that had a building project but only 2 staff people, and really felt they needed 6 volunteer helpers to make the project happen was particularly interesting. They made a point of saying that the work was low-skill and thus really easy to teach volunteers– but thinking about the money the volunteers (or their org) puts into their trip– their educational experience– was where my mind went… They didn’t bring this up, but what would it look like if that money went to the organization so that they could hire local labor instead of needing to rely on free outside labor? Think about how much of our volunteer infrastructure in Detroit is maintained with outside labor– what would it look like if the Greening of Detroit set aside a portion of their raised funds for gardeners who applied for micro-grants for paying neighborhood farmers!?! i can already dream 1,000 responses for why that wouldn’t happen, but its an interesting thought all the same. Are there volunteer projects that do a better job of capitalizing on the particular skills of outsiders- rather than capitalizing on the fact that they’re free and unskilled? And this highlights another area of tension in any “program”: is the focus to empower community members or to educate outsiders? can you do both? is one inevitably more appropriate than the other?