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Research Forum

Dr. Nancy McGehee of Virginia Tech University is our resident expert on VolunTourism Research. She has compiled a series of research papers that have been featured in "The VolunTourist" over the last 2 1/2 years. Topics have ranged from motivations behind why VolunTourists travel in this way to how residents are responding to visitors spending time in their communities in order to lend a hand.

You will find these papers to be an invaluable resource regardless of whether you are a potential VolunTourist, a VolunTourism Operator, a Nonprofit Organization/NGO, or a DMO/CVB. Take time to browse through them and gather the information that will support you in your goals and objectives as they relate to VolunTourism.

 

VolunTourism Resources - Research Forum
Nancy McGehee, PhD., Virginia Tech University

Nancy McGehee, PhD - Associate Professor, Virginia Tech University

Nancy has been working in the area of tourism development for over 16 years. She received an MS in Tourism Management from North Carolina State University in 1991, worked for the Appalachian Tourism Research and Development Center from 1991-1994, then received both an MS and PhD in Sociology from Virginia Tech in 1999. Her dissertation focused on how volunteer tourism influenced individual’s participation in social movements once they returned to their home communities. Since that time, Nancy has broadened her research focus to include what really was her “first research love”, resident attitudes toward volunteer tourism. She is in the early stages of what she hopes to be a long-term study of exploring the similarities and differences amongst a variety of communities experiencing a variety of types of voluntourism. Her other long-term project involves raising her two children, both 4 year olds, named Grace and Spencer. Any advice on either project is always welcome!


Research Articles

VOLUNTOURISM AT CONVENTIONS

Tara Pazanski, University of Florida

Lori Pennington-Gray, PhD, University of Florida

For this issue of the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist, our research guests are Tara Pazanski and Dr. Lori Pennington-Gray from the University of Florida. In their research, they examine the meetings & conventions market to explore meeting professionals' intent to include voluntourism as part of an annual meeting or convention. How may an individual's intention have been influenced? To answer this question, they focused their research on four variables: 1) Industry knowledge, 2) Attitudes, 3) Motivations, and 4) Past experiences.

INITIAL THOUGHTS & REFLECTIONS ON THE VOLUNTOURIST SURVEY

Nancy McGehee, Virginia Tech University

David Clemmons, VolunTourism.org

For this issue of the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist, our research ”guest” is our very own David Clemmons. He is introducing a research project that you will be hearing more about in the coming days: an online survey of folks interested in participating in voluntourism. David and I are currently wading through this very interesting data, but we wanted to share with you a bit of background as well as a few “teasers” in terms of the responses we received.

COMING HOME TO CULTURE SHOCK: A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS OF VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES

Simone Grabowski, School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, The University of Technology, Sydney

Stephen Wearing, School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, The University of Technology, Sydney

Danielle Lee, School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, The University of Technology, Sydney

For this issue of the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist, we are fortunate to have as our research ”guests” Simone Grabowski (Simone.Grabowski@uts.edu.au), Stephen Wearing (Stephen.Wearing@uts.edu.au), and Danielle Leigh, all of The University of Technology, Sydney. In their research, they examine the motives that drive young people to participate in some form of volunteer or humanitarian activities while on a leisure trip and the benefits and impacts that the volunteer tourists derive from the experience on their return. Perhaps more importantly, they are in the midst of a longitudinal study to assess levels of re-entry shock and their determinants, a little-studied area in volunteer tourism.

Emerging Best Practices In Adventure Tourism And Volunteering

Author: Christina Heyniger, Founder, Xola Consulting, Inc., and Kristin Lamoureux, Director, George Washington University's International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS)

Synopsis: For this issue of the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist, I am pleased to present findings from research on best practices recently conducted by Christina Heyniger, of Xola Consulting, Inc., and Kristin Lamoureux with the International Institute of Tourism Studies, George Washington University. Christina and Kristin would also like to thank Amanda Charles, research assistant to Ms. Lamoureux, for her assistance in pulling this together for The VolunTourist.

Healthcare Volunteers: Preferences & Trends

Author: Neilesh Patel, Founder, HealthCare Volunteer

Synopsis: For this issue of the Research Forum section of “The VolunTourist,” I am pleased to present a summary regarding recent research conducted on health-related volunteers from Neilesh Patel (lead investigator) and Elliot Mendelsohn of HealthCare Volunteer, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that created the world’s first research on global health volunteering preferences and trends. Neilesh Patel is a student at UCLA school of dentistry and is the CEO/Founder of HealthCare Volunteer, a global health volunteering organization whose mission is to connect any volunteer with a health-related volunteering opportunity regardless of training (www.healthcarevolunteer.org) Mr. Patel has collected and analyzed some very important data regarding health-related volunteers and the communities in which they work, which once again reminds us of the importance of research in the area of voluntourism!  Mr. Patel claims that a major discrepancy in volunteer location preferences exists and that we must establish new programs in locations with dire need.

Voluntourism: A Brief History Of Tourists As Witnesses And Advocates For Justice

Author: Dr. Phaedra C. Pezzullo, University of Indiana

Synopsis: For this issue of the Research Forum section of “The Voluntourist,” I am pleased to present a short essay from Dr. Phaedra Pezzullo of the University of Indiana. Dr. Pezzullo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University. This essay is adapted from her recently published book, Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Travel, Pollution, and Environmental Justice ( University of Alabama Press, 2007). Dr. Pezzullo reminds us of the importance of our roles as voluntourists, both as witnesses of the things we see and experience as well as agents of change and advocates of justice.

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Adventure VolunTourism - Part II

Author: David Aabo, Peace Corps Volunteer

Synopsis: Once again we welcome David Aabo, all the way from Lima, Peru, to the Research Forum section of “The VolunTourist”. Mr. Aabo uses the “case study approach” to reserarch, this time applying it to what he calls “Adventure VolunTourism.” In this contribution to the VolunTourist, David provides evidence from the case of the Peruvian Foundation for the Conservation of Nature, ProNaturaleza, to point out the importance of including the right balance of adventure, service, and conservation in this example of Adventure VolunTourism.

Adventure VolunTourism - Part I

Author: David Aabo, Peace Corps Volunteer

Synopsis: I am very excited to welcome David Aabo to the Research Forum section of “The Voluntourist.” Mr. Aabo writes to us from Lima, Peru. His affinity for adventure travel started while studying Business Administration at Colorado State University.  He then went to Africa and served in Peace Corps Mauritania's Small Business Education program. Currently he is furthering his education in South America in the Master's International program with Peace Corps Peru and the School for International Training, where he will shortly receive a MS degree in Organizational Management. Mr. Aabo’s research is in a slightly different form from previous entries: he uses the case study approach, which can be extremely valuable for both novice and seasoned voluntourism practitioners. In this contribution to the Voluntourist, Dave provides a do’s and don’t’s for what he is calling “Adventure Service Tourism.” Enjoy!

Resident Attitudes Towards VolunTourism - Part II

Authors: Nancy Gard McGehee, Ph.D., Virginia Tech University, and Kathleen Andereck, Ph.D., Arizona State University West

Synopsis: In this issue of “The VolunTourist Newsletter”, I want to share Part II of the work we have been doing in the area of resident attitudes toward voluntourism. Once again, Kathy and I would like to thank profusely the staffs of Los Niños and Esperanza, the Promotoras from both organizations, and the residents of Tijuana who opened their hearts and homes to us. Over 130 people completed the questionnaire, often while trying to dress and feed children or get ready to go to work.

Resident Attitudes Towards VolunTourism - Part I

Authors: Nancy Gard McGehee, Ph.D., Virginia Tech University, and Kathleen Andereck, Ph.D., Arizona State University West

Synopsis: This issue I want to share some work I (along with my Colleague Kathleen Andereck) have been doing with Los Niños in the area of resident attitudes toward tourism. For those of you who attended the Voluntourism Forum, I apologize for the redundancy. For those of you who did not, you missed a great networking and informational experience!

Kathy and I would like to thank profusely the staff of Los Niños and Esperanza, the Promotoras, and the residents of Tijuana who opened their hearts and homes to us. Over 130 people completed the questionnaire, often while trying to dress and feed children or get ready to go to work.

Choosing Your Conservation-Based Volunteer Tourism Market Segment With Care - Part II

Author: Alexandra Coghlan, James Cook University

Synopsis: This issue we once again welcome Alexandra Coghlan to the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist. Ms. Coghlan writes to us from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.

Choosing Your Conservation-Based Volunteer Tourism Market Segment With Care - Part I

Author: Alexandra Coghlan, James Cook University

Synopsis: This issue I am extremely pleased to welcome Alexandra Coghlan, another of our Australian friends, to the Research Forum section of The VolunTourist. Ms. Coghlan writes to us from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, where she is starting her academic career. Alexandra selected the subject of conservation-based volunteer tourism for her dissertation as a result of her strong concern for the state of the natural environment and a perceived lack of public understanding and involvement in conservation issues. Her thesis on the experiences of conservation volunteer tourists illuminated some interesting pointers when it comes to creating a satisfying volunteer tourism experience. In the first of a two-part contribution to The VolunTourist. Alexandra focuses on what she learned were:

1) The motivators, and

2) Elements of the experience that were most important for the two primary markets in conservation-based volunteer tourism.

VolunTourism & Community Development

Author: Stephen Wearing, PhD, University of Technology Sydney

Synopsis: Once again, this month I am extremely pleased to welcome Stephen Wearing to the Research Forum section of “The VolunTourist.” Stephen writes to us from the University of Technology in Sydney Australia, where he has been experiencing, writing about, and commenting on volunteer tourism for many years. Stephen was one of the first researchers to recognize the area of volunteer tourism as unique, special, and worthy of a systematic and thorough academic research agenda. This month Stephen has contributed an essay based on his field experience with volunteer tourism that focuses on the unique opportunities that can occur between volunteer tourism and community development.

VolunTourism - Can It Influence Mass Tourism?

Author: Stephen Wearing, PhD, University of Technology Sydney

Synopsis: This issue I am extremely pleased to welcome Stephen Wearing to the Research Forum section of “The VolunTourist.” Stephen writes to us from the University of Technology in Sydney Australia, where he has been experiencing, writing about, and commenting on volunteer tourism for many years. Stephen was one of the first researchers to recognize the area of volunteer tourism as unique, special, and worthy of a systematic and thorough academic research agenda.

 Amongst those of us who study volunteer tourism, discussion of the research agenda has actively turned toward one question: how can we protect volunteer tourism from becoming commodified and turned into just another form of mainstream tourism? Conversely, how can mainstream tourism be positively influenced, and perhaps decommodified, by volunteer tourism? Commodification occurs where the final outcome of a product is solely defined by its economic value. In other words, all that matters is the bottom line and profit. In general, that is, mainstream tourism is very focused on the commodification of all its products in the search for global profits and the tourist dollar.

Decommodification places social objectives and human rights such as the right to work or to a decent standard of living over that of economic value. In place of the nearly exclusive pursuit of industry profits, volunteer tourism has the potential to prioritize social value on local environments and economics. These may include:

*The unique approaches of indigenous or host communities;

*The quality of interaction of tourism with local communities and with nature;

*The ethics of care for nature;

*A greater appreciation of the consequences of human action on nature and local communities.

So, what are the steps necessary to assure that the focus of volunteer tourism continues to be on helping communities, the environment, and researchers to improve the state of the world? Equally important, how can volunteer tourism positively influence mainstream tourism? The following are some of Dr. Wearing’s comments on the subject.

Understanding The Motives And Benefits of VolunTourists: What Makes Them Tick?

Author: Sally Brown, PhD, Purdue University

Synopsis: The focus of this issue’s segment is on voluntourist’s motives and perceived benefits of participation. This is a second installment from Sally Brown, President, Ambassadair Travel Club, and President and Founder of Ambassadors for Children. Sally is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in hospitality and tourism management at Purdue University with emphasis on voluntourism.

Expanding The Concept Of Volunteer Vacations: The Mini-Mission Or Mission-Lite Concept

Author: Sally Brown, PhD, Purdue University

Synopsis: Our guest researcher is Sally Brown, President, Ambassadair Travel Club, and President and Founder of Ambassadors for Children. As if that isn’t enough, Sally is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in hospitality and tourism management at Purdue University! The following is an overview of some of the research she recently conducted in the area of mini-mission voluntourism.

Making The Personal Political

Author: Nancy Gard McGehee, Ph.D., Virginia Tech University

Synopsis: This issue, I am going to talk about another important “social perk” that I unearthed while conducting my research that also comes from the network ties established and self-efficacy gained through volunteer tourism: these elements provide exposure to issues and social problems via a voluntour that can inspire participants to “make the personal political”. In other words, an individual’s personal day-to-day expenditures become actively and consciously influenced by her/his political beliefs.