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Volume 3 Issue 3 - Wisdom & Insight



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The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in discovering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.

Wisdom & Insight

Women & VolunTourism

Straw polling of VolunTourism Operators has levied results that are not flattering, men! If you are a member of the male species, cover your eyes, female VolunTourists outnumber you three to one. In a recent episode of "The VolunTourist" webcast, Dr. Sally Brown, Founder of Ambassadors For Children, Nancy Rivard, President & Founder of Airline Ambassadors, and Renee Werbin, Publisher of Travel Girl, Inc., shared their wisdom, insight and thoughts on Women & VolunTourism.


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In 1971 a little book, Age of Aquarius: Contemporary Bio-Social Issues, was compiled and edited by a trio of authors - Kenneth L. Jones, Louis W. Shainberg, and Curtis O. Byer. The opening paragraph of the Introduction reads as follows:

According to astrological mythology, we are entering the Age of Aquarius. While astrologers disagree on the exact date this period began and how long it will last, they generally agree that it will be characterized by tremendous scientific advancement, increased freedom of thought, honesty in human relations, and universal peace and love. But the only portion of the prophecy that has yet materialized is the increased scientific advancement.

VolunTourism may fulfill another "portion of the prophecy," especially since women, traditionally the bearers of love, among other attributes, represent the vast majority of VolunTourists. Students Today Leaders Forever's Co-Founder, Greg Tehven, recently reported that 80% of their sign-ups for the 2007 - 2008 Pay It Forward Tour are girls. In connecting with other entities including i-to-i, Globe Aware, Ambassadors For Children, Go Differently, Relief Riders International, and FairGround Sessions, each reports roughly 3 out of every 4 participants in their programs check the "female" box on their applications.

What does this mean? It means we better ask some women who know a little something about travel and volunteering as it pertains to women. And The VolunTourist did in a recent VT Cast. This issue highlights some of the excerpts from that conversation.

Regarding Founding Airline Ambassadors, India, and love, Nancy Rivard relates...

Well, let's see, I'll give you a little background first. I had gone back from my position in management with American Airlines to being a flight attendant when my father died suddenly. And I embarked on a seven year, actually, a spiritual search around the world, and one of the places that I went was India. A teacher had come to me in a dream, named Sai Baba, who actually, physically is in India, in Bangalore or Puttaparthi. And it was such a vivid dream and I later saw a book with his picture on it. I went, 'That's the guy in my dream last night.'

I ended up going out there to visit him and was inspired to find a way to help mankind after my experience of meeting him and seeing some amazing things, learning some amazing stories. So we began to do, when I founded Airline Ambassadors, inspired by him, he told me, 'to find a way, not to travel and see gurus, but find a way to bring love into action.'

And later when I came up with the idea of Airline Ambassadors I thought, 'How can I create a structure where ordinary people can match resource to need and directly help children and families around the world?'

So when the tsunami hit, we had several groups go over to Chennai and we rebuilt an orphanage there, a school. And we have created a program where we're helping handicapped children in Calcutta where Mother Teresa used to work. And people can go over on a tourist trip but also have an experience helping children and families directly. It has been very, very rewarding.

[Listen To This Quote]

Regarding Mother/Daughter & Cross-Generational Travel, Dr. Sally Brown offers these thoughts...

No, I'm just so pleased to say it's huge for us to be able to see mother/daughters, sister/sisters, grandparents taking their grandchild, maybe one at a time, which I really think is wonderful just to have that comradery.

When I did my research at Purdue (University)... I saw four trends for VolunTourism. One is that they love the cultural immersion that you can't get by just sitting on a beach or on a tour bus. And giving back was a trend, of course. And the comradery of a group, even if you were single, you could definitely go on a trip like this and not have to know anyone. But, maybe it's just because of the demographics that I was using for the research, but the fourth biggest trend was the family bonding that came about. Because you can go on a vacation and go to the beach, whatever, but not walk away with the, you know that, just that next step in a relationship that just brought them closer by working side-by-side, not just with the other members but your own family members.

So, I think it's one of the biggest rewards for families to do this trip. Personally, I've got nieces that are just a year apart and every year that they graduated from high school, I took one at a time. And it changed their life. I mean, I know it affected them when they went off to college. Some of their professional decisions were made based on that. And it's just something that I'll never forget. So I think if families can do that as a group, as one-on-one, but it's just so re-warding; and I think it is one of the benefits of VolunTourism.

[Listen To This Quote]

On Critical Elements of a VolunTourism Trip for Women, Renee Werbin adds these nuggets...

The single most important thing to me, when I'm doing a VolunTourism trip, is follow up when the trip is over. So when their on the trip, when my people are on the trip, I want to make sure that they're doing something worthwhile, which of course is what we're all trying to do. But I want to make sure that there's follow up so I can keep that group involved permanently in the efforts that we initiated when we were on the trip.

So there must be follow up; and there must be follow from the group that we worked with (travelers) to my group leaders as well as from my group leaders to the group that we helped. I want to know how we impacted that group with what we did and the ramifications going on year-by-year. And hopefully we will continue to mentor that particular, per se, orphanage, if that's what we did, or that particular clean up project, whatever it is that we participated in, and I want to see how it enhanced - - how the enhancement continues as we continue to grow.

[Listen To This Quote]

For more Wisdom & Insight from these women on such subjects as:

  • How To Approach Safety & Security for Women
  • How To Address Women's Affinity Shifts for Projects
  • How To Respond to Varying Degrees of Intensity of Volunteer Work

Review VT Cast #7: Women & VolunTourism by visiting the web page dedicated to this webcast. And for the index of other past VT Casts, go here.

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