Four years ago, I attended a go abroad-type exhibition that prompted me to write a critical piece on the voluntourism industry and the discomfort I had with it.
21-year old me wrote, “What I saw today, essentially, were a bunch of organizations literally selling an experience with the sales pitch of “doing good” and a lot of young people just eating it all up...There was this sort of glamour, romance, and novelty being attributed to working abroad in some rural community in the developing world. One young woman even asked if she could do two 2-week projects back to back — one in South America and the other in Asia. And I couldn’t help but ask myself, what fruits could that possibly bear? Both for herself and for the communities that she would be working with?”
Ironically enough, less than a year after I wrote that piece, I began working with Operation Groundswell (OG), an organization ostensibly classified under that very industry.