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WETM Travel Presentation


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This was a presentation by @danielapapi given at the WETM conference in London on March 18th, 2014. It relates to responsible volunteer tourism lessons learned.

Published in: Travel

WETM Travel Presentation

  1. 1. Exploring motivations, benefits, pitfalls, and lessons learned Presentation at WETM 18 March 2014 Volunteering Abroad @danielapapi
  2. 2. @danielapapi This is a presentation I gave at the WETM travel conference. In that presentation I mostly used images, and had the audience brainstorm ideas during parts of the workshop. As such, for this SlideShare I have added some notes and narrative that were not on the original slides. The yellow stars ★ represented quotes which I had given to the audience before the talk started, but I have included them in here. Reach out if you want me to clarify anything!
  3. 3. My experience in international service included volunteer trips in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and other places before volunteering in Cambodia and then setting up a volunteer travel company ( which we later transitioned into a development education company and development education platform (
  4. 4. Volunteering abroad can BE FANTASTIC 1   2   3  
  5. 5. Before I started traveling, my family and friends back home often belittled people from other religions, and I would join in. Now that I have met Buddhist monks, and even had an ex-monk as my guide, I feel like I have learned so much about what it means to care about other people. I thought I was coming here to “serve” the people of Cambodia, but instead I was the one who learned important life lessons. - American student in Cambodia, 2011 The perspective my time in India, and earlier in Uganda, gave me in my formative years instilled a greater sense of social justice... I went on to attend and organise protests and campaigns relating to international development - such as the G8 and WTO rallies in Scotland and Hong Kong shortly after returning. I wrote for a number of websites and magazines about economic issues and volunteered for several charities. -  Volunteered in India and Uganda 2002-4 We partnered with a Guatemalan founded and run organization, to learn how to construct a solar composting latrine. We helped where we could – from mixing cement to carrying rocks – all while taking detailed notes. We didn’t “teach” them how to build, in fact, they were teaching us. Though those two weeks ended up being focused on construction, and though it was labeled as “service,” in reality, we were working and learning side by side our Guatemalan friends doing what we could to act as a bridge – transmitting information from one local institute to another one that had asked for it. - Student in Guatamala, 2013
  6. 6. What can YOUR COMPANY do to achieve similar results?
  7. 7. (Brainstormed answers from the group) -  Conduct thorough matching between people and projects -  KNOW your projects well -  Set expectations of the travelers through your marketing, speaking to them, orientation, and pre-departure training -  Vet projects that are worthwhile -  Set “project needs over your fun” attitudes -  Ask many questions of the traveler so that you can really understand their expectations and so that they can hear themselves articulate their goals – questions like why they want to volunteer abroad, their expectations, what they hope to learn etc – plus when they are done they can better reflect on what they have indeed learned if this is recorded somewhere -  Post-program seminars with past participants
  8. 8. Volunteering abroad can FAIL to live up to its stated goals 4   5   6  
  9. 9. “Local community relations in Leogane were strained. Heavy alcohol consumption immediately in front of an internally displaced persons’ camp struck me as rude and insensitive. Drunk foreigners would make noise on the roof all through the night while Haitians living in tents were trying to sleep… Some individuals came to a disaster area to party and they did party. A number of long term volunteers close to the organization got drunk and high, stole a local fisherman's boat, and sank it without repercussions.” – A volunteer with a travel provider in Haiti, aged 25 “I knew next to nothing about where I was going. I had naively assumed that because the agency had accepted me, I was “needed” in some way and that the agency was working in the best interests of the community. In turns out they were not. In essence, they were exploiting the local school where I was brought to work (despite my not being a teacher) by placing me in a badly organised, unsuitable role and wasting the time and resources of the school and its students. In fact, when questioned about my placement, the representative back in Britain had no idea what type of projects were going on in Tanzania.” – Sarah Carroll, Business Fights Poverty Website “As a 20-year-old journalism graduate, I’d grown nary a houseplant before trying to teach farmers how to improve their crops. The audacity of my arrogance in assuming that this time abroad would do Cameroon any good was apparent on Day 1. I lasted just five months before returning home, frustrated, confused and annoyed that I had put so much thought into a system that failed both the host country and a volunteer with the best of intentions.” - Kelli Donley, NY Times Letter to the Editor
  10. 10. What can YOUR COMPANY do to avoid similar results?
  11. 11. (Brainstormed answers from the group) The previous list plus… -  Tutoring during the project and someone they can directly reach out to if they see something they are concerned about or if they want to debrief something -  A number of feedback channels and encouragement of direct and critical feedback -  Readings they can do before/during/after their trip -  Partnerships at eye level -  Relationships, relationships, relationships -  Program rules with people being kicked off if they don’t follow them -  Vet participants to make sure they are prepared
  12. 12. So… what could actually go wrong?
  13. 13. In this trip.. EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong!
  14. 14. All of it Poor implementat Bad planning An evil guy Lies and corruptio List of things that possibly go wrong In this trip.. EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong!
  15. 15. All of it List of things that possibly go wrong Poor implementat Bad planning An evil guy Lies and corruptio In this trip.. EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong!
  16. 16. Poor pre-planning
  17. 17. Poor pre-planning
  18. 18. Poor pre-planning ! !! !
  19. 19. No transparency
  20. 20. No transparency $$$
  21. 21. No transparency $$$
  22. 22. Ineffective project
  23. 23. Ineffective project
  24. 24. Little to no traveler education
  25. 25. Little to no traveler education
  26. 26. The WRONG people were let in
  27. 27. The WRONG people were let in
  28. 28. The WRONG people were let in
  29. 29. “Earlier this year, the British owner of the Cambodian Orphan Fund…was sent to prison in Cambodia for sexually abusing several minor boys in his care.” -  Expat Living, Oct 2011
  30. 30. Volunteer Travel IN THE NEWS
  31. 31. Volunteer Travel IN THE NEWS
  32. 32. Volunteer Travel IN THE NEWS
  33. 33. Volunteer Travel IN THE NEWS 7   8  
  34. 34. “A colleague from another international child protection organization recently told me about a troubling visit he made to a residential center for children in the south of Haiti. The children were all painfully thin. He asked the head of the center if they had the means to feed the children adequately, and the director replied: "We have lots of money. But we if keep the children thin, when we send pictures to church groups in the United States, they send more money. If we send pictures of children who look healthy, they don't send as much money.” -  For Profit Orphanages Keep Haitian Families Apart, Jennifer Morgan, Huffington Post “There were about 25 kids inside the ‘orphanage’. Every time a tourist boat pulled up and people went in to deliver their bounty, the children would stop what they were doing and shout a greeting or a thank you. Doing that every five minutes throughout the day is surely going to impact on your education. It was obvious that the children were being used for profit. Yet boat after boat of people were pulling up to get their holiday feel good points by gawking at children trapped in a floating cage, chorusing multilingual greetings like polished professionals.” -  “Orphanage Tourism: Cute Kids, Cashed Up Tourists, Poor Outcomes”, Development Policy Center
  35. 35. Volunteer Travel IN THE NEWS
  36. 36. Volunteer Travel IN THE NEWS
  37. 37. 9   “You know, Americans always want to paint things. They want to paint buildings, so we have a building we let them paint. Usually we have to repaint the walls after the Americans leave because they don’t do a very good job.” - Excerpt from Rethinking Short-Term Missions for Long-Term Impact
  38. 38. Volunteering Beneficiaries “villagers” We shifted our vocabulary I’m from the “Village of Briarcliff Manor”…”
  39. 39. Volunteering Beneficiaries “villagers” We shifted our vocabulary I’m from the “Village of Briarcliff Manor”…” … yet no one has ever called me a “villager”…
  40. 40. We shifted our vocabulary Being a “volunteer” means there is a “beneficiary”…
  41. 41. Being a “volunteer” means there is a “beneficiary”… … but then it’s hard to remember that those people we’re meant to “serve” are actually the ones from whom we need to learn! We shifted our vocabulary
  42. 42. Fostering moral imperialism
  43. 43. sympathy /ˈsimpəTHē/ Noun: Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. empathy /ˈempəTHē/ Noun: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
  44. 44. sympathy /ˈsimpəTHē/ Noun: Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. empathy /ˈempəTHē/ Noun: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
  45. 45. Volunteering Service Learning We shifted our vocabulary
  46. 46. Service Learning Learning Service We shifted our vocabulary 12  10   11  
  47. 47. “We couldn't even take full credit for building the houses because most of the work had already been done by community members. In fact, if anything we slowed down the process with our inexperience and clumsiness. And how many schools in the west would allow amateur college students to run their English classes for a day? What had I really done besides inflate my own ego and spruce up my resume?” -  Ossob Mahamud, The Guardian “On one hand it was great to remove rubble for people so that they could potentially start rebuilding soon. On the other hand, couldn't the organization have just paid those people to remove rubble instead of having a bunch of (let's be honest) ignorant foreigners doing this work? … Social science majors should not be designing temporary shelters for families. While it may be fun for inexperienced volunteers, it will not be fun for a family living in a compromised structure for months.” – Volunteer in Haiti, 2010 “We were in an area where nobody needed us, and where we could make little to no difference. We couldn’t speak the language and had been told beforehand that it wasn’t necessary, so we had next to no input. I felt useless. I was acutely aware that I was there for two reasons and two reasons only: to attract attention, because I am white, and to attract money, because I am white.” - Rachel RTW blog (copied in many places, including Aljazeera)
  48. 48. We have to learn before we can help
  49. 49. Five things to remember
  50. 50. 1 # Your #1 risk management tool is your relationships
  51. 51. Differentiate through transparency 2 #
  52. 52. Avoid poor monitoring 3 #
  53. 53. Buy bad car Don’t research
  54. 54. Buy bad car Don’t research Car breaks
  55. 55. Buy bad car Don’t research Car breaks You can change your behavior in the future
  56. 56. Invest in the wrong thing Don’t research Fails, adds to corruption, etc. SCHOOL
  57. 57. Invest in the wrong thing Don’t research Fails, adds to corruption, etc. You don’t usually know it! SCHOOL
  58. 58. Avoid the long-neck- women phenomenon. 4 #
  59. 59. Orphanage tourism
  60. 60. Don’t forget the rest of the trip! 5 #
  61. 61. Other RESOURCES to consider
  62. 62.  
  63. 63.  
  64. 64. Child Safe
  65. 65. Travelers Philanthropy Handbook
  66. 66. Travelers Philanthropy Handbook
  67. 67. Learning Service Charter/Guidelines/Videos  
  68. 68. Daniela
  69. 69. •  Throughout the Journey: Adopting a Learning Mindset •  Before departure: Thorough Research •  While Abroad: Humble, Mindful, and Self-Reflective Action •  Back at home: A life-long approach
  70. 70. Daniela
  71. 71. Daniela Papi