Did i just make up the word?! Probably not. Some witty journalist will have pondered long and hard over that one word for a Headline. The reason for this word is a growing market for tourism revolving around volunteering abroad. If you have been following this blog then you will know that I am hoping to go abroad to teach English and I am not sure whether that will be on a voluntary or paid basis.
Lately the voluntary seems the worst. I know I seem like a cretin, there can be nothing wrong with volunteering to help those less fortunate, yada, yada, yada. Actually it really can be. After a quick snoop this lunch time at a few news sites I came across an article on the Daily Mail site. I can hear you all tut. The Daily Mail, as if that writes anything other than what Kim Kardashian is doing this week or how many sledgehammers Miley Cyrus has licked.
Alas my friends, it does! Who would have thought it!? I know I wouldn’t have when I studied journalism. Maybe i have become soft. Back on topic though the article is but a click away here. If you cannot be bothered reading it because you refuse to read such trash let me give you a snippet.
In fact have the headline and subs:
Fake orphanages. Bogus animal sanctuaries. And crooks growing rich on Western gullibility… why do-gooding gap year holidays may be a horrifyingly callous con
- Caroline Green, 45, from London, volunteered at an orphanage in Thailand
- Turned out children there were not orphans
- They had been sent their by families on promise of better life
- But were actually mistreated while money was made through volunteers
- Responsibletravel.com no longer offers orphanage volunteering trips
- Matthew Butler paid to volunteer at animal sanctuary in Costa Rica
- In fact it was a poorly run zoo and money wasn’t spent on helping animals
LOOK AT HOW BIG THOSE LETTERS ARE, THIS IS SERIOUS EVERYONE!!! Enough of my sarcasm. It really does seem so. Now these people did go for 2 weeks at the minimum, which to me for £200 seems like a) you are making no progress in this short period of time and b) money for a tiny bit of time to make no progress. That is my opinion however many gap year students, retirees and people who want to give something back and have a bit of an adventure do not see it that way.
It has been supposedly uncovered that there are people running scams to get bright-eyed undergrads and those caring older folk to shell out to help people. Instead of the money finding its way to those in need it seems to get lost. The website responsibletravel.com actually removed any orphanage volunteering opportunities because people were setting them up and taking kids who had parents to make a bit of money. This gives me the fear. The fear my western white ideals of helping others and doing so unpaid will be a total sham. I do not want to be part of something that will ruin a local community, only making the rich richer and causing those I wish to help hardship.
SO what the hell do you do?! You start contacting everyone and everything. I decided to have a nose around WordPress. I found a couple of blogs regarding projects for teaching English abroad. I am asking so many questions it must seem absurd to them. I am determined to uncover as much info as possible. I also know someone who knows the consulate of Mongolia… an interesting story for another day.
I have been pestering as many people as I can. I do not want to go somewhere I am not needed and I sure as hell do not want to go somewhere I will make no difference and worse. I do not want to do this to change the country and colonise it for the Western world. I have an understanding English is a fantastic tool in business, translators are always required and I would love to learn more about the world and different cultures after growing up in a Scottish town where I still hear the sentence ‘I’m not racist but…’ far too much. My eyes are starting to open to the business to be made out of volunteering and I am beginning to sway away from it. I will not rule it out, only more digging and information will decide it.
If you have any experiences volunteering or teaching abroad please share them with me, I am intrigued!