David Clemmons, Publisher/Editor of The VolunTourist, responds to some of your questions and emails. (Additional questions and responses are posted on the VolunTourism.org Blog)
Volume 5, Issue 3 Reader Comments & Other Mail
Thank you for your email.
We have not created a calendar for voluntourism trips since VolunTourism.org does not offer trips as a provider. However, something that may be helpful for travelers as we move into Decade 2.0 would be to do exactly that - create a master calendar from the numerous voluntourism providers we have recognized over the years.
My hesitation on providing such a service, at least to this point, has been my concern that if we take a traditional approach to posting trips and calendars that would-be voluntourists will not take the time to do their due diligence and select a trip that truly resonates with them. Just as I am sure you went through 'basic training' with the Marines, would-be voluntourists need to go through their own 'basic training' to review potential trips and identify those that are in alignment with who they are as people - their previous life experiences, their preferences and aversions, etc.
Do you think that people would be inclined to put in the effort if tools like a calendar were made available?
I know when freelance writers and media folks contact me, I tend to defer them to others when they ask the question - "Which provider should I go with?" I don't have a clue, of course, since I do not know what makes these folks tick. Again, that same question enters my mind, and, after reading Ms. Nancy Trejos' article in The Washington Post - "How Can We Help?" - I would say that when folks pick trips based upon anything other than some serious due diligence on their part, you get a 'miss-fit.' This 'miss-fit' between a voluntourist and a voluntourism journey can result in dramatic impacts at the community level - not good.
So, I will keep thinking on this.
In the meantime, the entities represented on VolunTourism.org can be approached separately regarding a calendar of trips.
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Thank you for your email, and my apologies for the delayed response.
I think there are a number of things you might want to do.
First, identify providers on VolunTourism.org that currently send groups to Guatemala. Since they most likely already have an in-country presence and could easily be bringing voluntourists to the area of which you speak, they may have a vested interest in the project you are proposing.
Second, I would suggest that you conduct an online search to discover other organizations that may focus on international volunteering in Guatemala. Although they may not be interested in the touristic aspects of Guatemala, water-sports or other recreational activities related to the area, they may have interest in supporting the environment and the Guatemalan people who may utilize the lake for their own purposes.
Third, I would check with public sector agencies in Guatemala as well as with the board of tourism there. You may discover that they have a vested interest in your project also.
Finally, as soon as you have your NGO registered and up-and-going, I would suggest that you jumpstart your social media outlets - Facebook, Twitter, and others - to expand awareness of your efforts.
And, please, do keep us posted as you continue to develop your project.
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|Copyright © Eliza Raymond, All Rights Reserved
Thank you for your email and my apologies for the delayed response.
I agree with you - there is TOO much information.
But, when you are stewarding something along, well, you have to make sure you have covered as much as can be covered. Disseminating information and educating voluntourism stakeholders has been the primary purpose of VolunTourism.org since September 2003 when it was launched.
The good news is that in 2010, and beyond, we will begin to relegate much of the content that you see to books and publications. This will free up visitors to explore, but not be inundated.
To your question about countries - this is a feature we have not completely ironed out yet. You are, however, welcome to look at something Dr. Wansoo Im and I have been working on - IMVoluntourism.com. It is an interactive mapping site with some of the voluntourism programs we have recognized over the years placed on a global map. It is in what I would call an 'alpha' phase right now. In 2010, we should be able to make this a more robust feature and inter-link it with VolunTourism.org.
Let us know what you think of the IMVoluntourism.com site. We are very open to suggestions on how to organize it to meet the needs of would-be voluntourists.
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|Copyright © Chris Christensen, All Rights Reserved
Thank you for your email and for sending along the information on VNC India.
One of the first things I will tell you about our work here at VolunTourism.org is that we appreciate travelers letting us know about great programs around the world. So thank you for this.
I look forward to reviewing the organization and determining whether the program would fit well with what we are seeking when we conduct our due diligence on this end.
Having someone that can speak about the experience is a plus, of course.
Other items we are looking for have much to do with the structure of the program itself. We ask questions such as: "How is the local community benefited socio-economically by these programs?" "How does the itinerary demonstrate an integrated itinerary with travel & tourism and voluntary service having representation within the program structure?" And there are numerous others, as you can imagine.
So, thank you again for turning us on to a new program. Perhaps VNC India will make the VolunTourism Trips section of VolunTourism.org in 2010.
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