Transcript of "Equalizing Voluntourism by Caleb Sheehan"
My work with VOFAIR bringing transparency to the volunteer industry.
What we did:
What I did:
As the voluntourism industry booms, potential
volunteers are having a harder and harder time
finding safe, meaningful volunteer opportunities. At
the same time, small, impactful volunteer
organizations are having to compete with for-profit
voluntourism agencies to find good volunteers. This
is where VOFAIR comes in. As a non-profit
intermediary between volunteers and volunteer
projects, we help both parties skip the
expensive, unreliable voluntourism agencies.
My responsibilities at VOFAIR varied throughout the
month I was in Chile, but the main theme of my work
was technology. Doing final editing of our website
as it launched was the main focus for me and a
couple of other volunteers. I also worked on moving
our database of projects and organizations from
Excel spreadsheets to an online, searchable
database. One of the more interesting jobs was
going out and visiting volunteer projects, taking part
in the verification process around which our
organization is centered.
By screening potential projects in person, we make
sure they are safe and worthwhile for the volunteers.
After passing a series of requirements, projects are
then featured on the VOFAIR website for volunteers
to find and contact.
Inside the MoviStar Innova Building, which houses the Start-up Chile offices.
After leaving the VOFAIR office in the afternoon, I
would take the metro to Escuela Bellavista, where I
took daily Spanish lessons. Beyond that, I explored
the city, made friends with locals and learned their
culture, and did a bit of travelling within Chile.
What I gained
and what is to come:
Back in April, VOFAIR was still sponsored by Start-up
Chile, a government program that funds and houses
start-up companies (for-profit or not) in a shared office
space in downtown Santiago. The experience of
working in a start-up was great, but even better was
being surrounded by other start-up companies on a daily
basis. Of course, a number of factors contributed to a
huge increase in my Spanish skills.
Escuela Bellavista, where I took daily Spanish lessons.
With these two experiences, I plan to move forward
gaining experience in the entrepreneurial world. With
contacts from Start-up Chile and my improved Spanish
skills, a return to Chile may be in order.
VOFAIR volunteers in the process of certifying a youth development
program located in the mountains outside Santiago, Chile.
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