GeoVisions belongs to WYSTC and WYSE. Why is that important to you? Because they are global organizations, accepting members from all over the world. And that means senders of volunteers and receivers of volunteers. The alternative is an organization that allows only U.S. members and that makes no sense to us. Someone has to receive our volunteers! Duh. We should meet with them and learn from them.
When you are looking at web sites of organizations who send volunteers and looking at "affiliations", be sure to notice if the sending organization belongs to a global association or just a U.S. association. It is very important to include the communities where volunteers go as part of a membership. Otherwise, how can there be meaningful best practices and an understanding of sending and receiving?
Each September/October we meet and then again in March. So next month I'll be bringing you updates from sunny Miami where we will meet for 4 days.
One of the activities is on March 17, where the WYSE membership will contribute to the relief effort for Haiti working alongside FANM, the Haitian Womens’ Organization of Miami, volunteers who will be organizing and sorting donations such as clothes, tents and hygiene kits to send to Haiti.
FANM is in desperate need of tents to provide shelter in time for Haiti’s imminent rainy season. WYSE Work Abroad will be donating a tent for each volunteer participating, up to a total of 25 tents. GeoVisions will be Blogging and Tweeting from this volunteer project the morning of March 17.
WYSE Work Abroad would like to thank Roxana O’Harra of Volunteers for International Partnership and the Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT) who has been invaluable in arranging this project.
When I look at the agenda for the U.S. only organizations, I never see volunteer projects as part of the program.
If you are attending the WYSE conference, you can contact GeoVisions and we will put you in touch with the department who is coordinating this volunteer project.
To find out more about WETM-IAC (held March 17-19 2010 in Miami, USA) or to register for the event, visit the WETM-IAC website.
WYSE Work Abroad is a member association of WYSE Travel Confederation www.wysetc.org
What do you think? Have you looked at the "affiliations" pages of sending organizations' web sites? Are your favorites members of U.S. only organizations or are they active globally? Is this important to you?
It's hard to find a letter so manipulated as the "t" in Voluntourism. Or the "t" in Volunteerism. Poor thing. Maybe we should spell it this way: volunT__, as in, "Hey…I'm off to Cambodia to volunT__."
Back in the day, (1974), John G. Cull and Richard E. Hardy wrote a book entitled Volunteerism: An Emerging Profession. In their book, Cull and Hardy assert that volunteering is done on one's own volition, with personal commitment or concern. Since volunteers are not motivated, presumably, in the same way as they are in relation to life-support systems, such as employment, their reasons d'être are grossly inconsistent, and elements of cohesion are frequently nebulous.
In 1974 Cull and Hardy's book cost $5.95. You can buy it on Amazon but it now costs $15.00.
In all honesty, I don't think the general public really cares about that poor little "t" as long as they experience a new culture and experience what it is like to help other people or the environment.
The 2008 Voluntourism Survey Report issued in October 2009 indicated that people who volunteer abroad want to (in rank order):
- Experience something different
- Learn new things
- Gain a new perspective on life
- Explore the unknown
- Experience a different culture
You can hardly make a case that these people are focused on volunteerism or voluntourism over the other.
The same survey indicated, when asked about length of stay,
- 34% looked for a 7-14 day obligation
- 22% looked for a 7-day obligation
- Interestingly, these 22% were interested in volunteering their time an average of 7-8 hours each day
This is a statistic that is counter-intuitive to sending organizations (those companies who send volunteers abroad on programs). I can't count the times I've seen providers rail on about the quality of the experience = the number of days abroad. Yet, from this survey, of those seeking only a 7-day experience, they are motivated to spend 8 hours each day working and not traveling. Makes you wonder where those multi-month-long providers came up with those stories, doesn't it? I even wrote a Blog post in support of short-term volunteering sometime ago.
So after reading the entire survey, I wanted to write a piece about that poor little "T" in the middle of a controversy it never started and cares nothing about.
How about you? Have I over-simplified things? Do you really choose a program based on the "T"?
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