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SO YOU MAY KNOW
President Barack Obama: Could He Change The "Voluntourism Landscape" Permanently?
Unbeknownst to President Barack Obama, should he sign the Service America Act into law, he may very well start a domino-like series of events that could change the overall fabric of what we currently describe as "voluntourism" and "volunteer vacations" in the United States. This, in turn, could catalyze a chain reaction across the travel & tourism industry and through the nonprofit sector on a world-wide scale. What could it mean for you?

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FEATURE ARTICLE 1
VolunTourism In The Middle East: Launching The Abraham Path
When we think of voluntourism, we usually think of tour operators or nonprofit organizations addressing the socio-environmental challenges of a destination - a rural village, an urban community, a coral reef. Quite often this is done in cooperation with a local grassroots organization or community effort. But, Dr. Joshua Weiss, some of his colleagues from Harvard University, and a growing network of global supporters have a far more robust idea in mind - to restore the roughly 5,000km (3,000 miles) of what once served as the route of passage for Abraham and his tribespeople. Are you ready to be part of a voluntourism initiative that will ultimately traverse 10 countries in the Middle East?!?

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FEATURE ARTICLE 2
New Zealand & VolunTourism

Cate Dowman, aka the "Caffeinated Traveller," is a New Zealand native. She is an avid blogger and, as you might have guessed, has a rather strong affinity for caffeine. What prompted her to blog on the subject of New Zealand and VolunTourism is still a bit of a mystery. Nonetheless, she has graciously taken time from her travels and life in Asia to share her thoughts and insights with us on the intersection of travel and voluntary service in her homeland.

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COLUMNS

UnXpected Your Letters To VolunTourism.org
Many thanks to those who continue to submit questions to VolunTourism.org. Your questions and comments are thought-provoking and very much appreciated! >>>

Wisdom & Insight

You Bought Me Sleep

For this issue of The VolunTourist Newsletter, Shelley Seale, author of The Weight Of Silence, shares part of her personal experience of traveling as a voluntourist in India. Venturing into a remote village in the northeastern state of Orissa, she describes her connection with Santosh, a ten-year old boy whom she decided to sponsor through The Miracle Foundation. Shelley takes us on a physically-demanding and emotionally-charged journey that includes a closer look at the life of the "invisible" children of India. >>>

VT-Lines

VolunTourism - 'A Double-Edged Sword
In the last quarter of 2008, a number of writers identified VolunTourism as a potential route for those interested in moving beyond self-indulgence, especially in relation to luxury travel. Will this trend continue in 2009? >>>

3-Q's

VolunTourism & The Global Do Good Grant™
Soft Power Education (SPE) celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Founded by Hannah Small in 1999, the organization has played a part in assisting the Ugandan educational system in progressing towards achievement of the 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Sharon Webb, Volunteer Co-ordinator for SPE, takes time out of her busy schedule in Jinja, Uganda, to offer responses to this issue's 3Q's >>>

Supply Chain

Voluntours, South Africa
Oe hear of good intentions and strides that voluntourism entities are making to conduct themselves and their operations in a more ethical and socially responsible manner. One voluntourism organization in South Africa, aptly named Voluntours, is leading a very concerted effort to achieve authenticity in all of their activities and has crafted a "Code of Good Practices" to emphasize their commitment. Want to hear more about their story and what they have done and are doing to keep integrity top of mind? Read On! >>>

Study & Research with Dr. Nancy McGehee

Research Volunteer Tourism: Defining The Experience
For this issue of the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist, Dr. Nancy McGehee welcomes Dr. Angela M. Benson from the University of Brighton. Dr. Benson is the Founding Chair of the Volunteer Tourism Research Group of ATLAS (Association for Tourism & Leisure Education). She recently presented findings from this study at the Greater Western chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association's annual meeting, which included a symposium entitled "The Voluntourism Effect: Case Studies and Investigations." Dr. Benson reminds us of the broad and varied perceptions of voluntourism (often as neither volunteering nor tourism) and the "semantic challenges" of terminology we face as researchers of the subject. Her research presentation at the conference resulted in lively academic discussion, so we hope that it will do the same for you, wherever you are! >>>

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