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Jan Jones
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.

Volume 8 Issue 3 Highlights

 
Archanes - Jan Jones

Wisdom & Insight

"What Does Voluntourism Research Mean to Me?"

Jan Jones has a profound interest in voluntourism research. Perhaps this interest can be traced to her graduate research in Cuba, where she took a closer look at local communities and the impact of social tours on both participants as well as local residents. In the last several years she has presented at the TEFI World Congress at Temple University on themes she discovered regarding the information respondents are most interested in discovering about voluntourism. And, this past Spring, she presented findings from her voluntourism research in Jordan at the International Conference On Tourism in Crete. The following essay gives you some insight into what voluntourism research means to Dr. Jones.

Having A Personal Connection to Your Research Agenda

As many know there is a constant push for academics to develop strong research agendas in order to achieve tenure. As an academic, I got tired of doing research for the mere sake of being published, or because I knew my PhD committee would approve it.  I began to search for a topic that had a deeper meaning and connection to what I truly value and expect from tourism experiences. As a tourism professor, I often feel adrift between two worlds: one that requires me to “train” students to get jobs in the tourism industry, and the other where I want my students to be informed global citizens and to care about the cultures and communities that they visit. I am constantly looking for creative ways to maintain balance in both of these worlds.

Finding a Research Agenda

"When I returned from Jordan I was not only interested in developing an article about the data collected but in sharing my experiences of collaborating on practitioner/academic projects. I had come to the realization that many of us are so focused on collecting data and publishing that we forget to learn from the actual experiences we are partaking in. I began to take a step back and developed a paper that really analyzed the work that we had done and the impact that it had on each of us." Jan Jones

Ultimately, I  began thinking about ways that we, as tourists, can really integrate and experience other cultures and it was then that I stumbled upon VolunTourism.org. For me it was an opportunity to study the impacts of a type of tourism that I really felt had potential. Since then I have presented at two conferences on the topic of VolunTourism. The first was at TEFI [World Congress - May 2011] where I presented statistics about the growing interest in this field. What I found was that even though statistics showed that people from all over the world are interested in this kind of travel, there is very little known about it.

Traveling and Conducting Research in Jordan

Following that presentation I received a CSU [Connecticut State University] Grant to travel to Jordan to help assess the potential impacts of developing VolunTourism at a national level.  From this research, I discovered that the people of Jordan were very interested in developing VolunTourism in their communities but are impressively aware of the potential cultural impacts that such developments would have. When I returned from Jordan I was not only interested in developing an article about the data collected but in sharing my experiences of collaborating on practitioner/academic projects. I had come to the realization that many of us are so focused on collecting data and publishing that we forget to learn from the actual experiences we are partaking in. I began to take a step back and developed a paper that really analyzed the work that we had done and the impact that it had on each of us.

Finding the Right Conference?

Folk Dance - Jan Jones

This brought me to the International Conference on Tourism in Crete, Greece (May 2012). For the first time in a long time I attended a conference where people were not only passionate about their own work, but extremely welcoming and keen to learn from others. The conference itself was created in a way so that the local communities would benefit from the conference and therefore we were able to really experience local culture and hospitality. For the first time ever there were academics who were interested in the same type of tourism that I was. What was most impressive about this conference was the amount of cultural events woven into the agenda. I found myself learning as much during these events as I did from the sessions themselves. Before I left the conference, I knew that I wanted to return again next year.

ICOT 2013 - Special Session: VolunTourism!

I was so impressed with the conference that I have developed a Special Session on the topic of VolunTourism. My goal is to raise awareness of the trends, challenges, and potential impacts of this type of tourism development. I hope that if you are reading this article you will consider attending and even submitting a paper for the Special Session. The goal is to encourage a global discussion about this topic. I encourage papers from a variety of perspectives and experiences.

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