You did your homework. You selected a program. It either worked for you or it didn't, but you can't take away the fact that you made an effort to identify a program that had all the potential to fit your preferences. Hopefully, you educated yourself on the destination and the cultures there, and this reaped good dividends for you as well. You had your processing tools and did what you needed to help yourself more fully understand what your senses, your heart, and your mind were telling you.
Now what? You're back in the place you call home. Does it feel the same? Do you feel the same?
Following your participation in a VolunTourism trip, you will have a few things with which to deal.
- First and foremost there is the "Re-entry."
- Second, you will be motivated to do something to further support the work which you did while on your trip.
- Third, you will want to tell people about your experience.
Below are some suggestions on how to deal with these inevitable outcomes.
Depending on the length of your stay and the depth of your engagement with the destination, the term of your Re-Entry phase into your home environment will directly correspond to both length and depth. Some individuals will be able to handle length of absence better than others. But, generally speaking, the more in-depth your interaction with local people is, the longer will be your Re-Entry phase.
A good analogy is the descent of an airplane from a cruising altitude of 10,000 meters (34,000 feet). The pilot doesn't push the "yoke" of the plane forward into a nose-dive and announce over the loud speaker, "We'll be on the ground, ladies and gentlemen, in 30 seconds." No. Generally, a plane will take an additional 25 to 30 minutes from the point of initial descent to landing on the runway.
This is the approach you want to take with yourself. Hold on to your processing tools, make sure you took a couple of emails from fellow VolunTourists with whom you bonded, get contact info for the individual from the VolunTourism Operator for whom you had the greatest affinity, and scout out some of your friends that may have done something similar. These things will represent your "parachute" so that you do not go into a nose-dive when you return.
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Yes, yes, I know there are some of you reading this saying: "I have traveled before, I know all about culture shock, etc." Good for you and congratulations; but have you had to deal with buying a cup of coffee and saying to yourself: "I just spent on one cup of coffee what a person (that I met, and now, perhaps, call my friend) makes in 4 days worth of work." This is what we mean by Re-Entry.
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Motivation To Do
Scenario #1: Okay, now you have seen some world challenge up-close and personal-like and you, by your very lonesome, are going to go and change everything that is wrong with the planet.
Scenario #2: You are more pragmatic, and a business person to boot, not a novitiate-student traipsing around the globe. You will come back and organize your office to donate computers, or school supplies, or start a "giving-circle." No, you are not going to change the world, but you are going to change the lives of the people in this little village.
Scenario #3: You have money to burn. Your kids are all grown up and have big houses and won't need your cash when you vacate this earthly realm. You can buy the supplies to build a school, a health clinic, a solar-heated water tower, irrigation equipment and buy 1000-head of cattle for the village. Case closed. Problem solved.
The above three scenarios are a small sample of what may possibly occur when you return to your home - in fact, some of you may start this kind of plotting and scheming even before you depart the destination.
But remember, absence of money is not what creates poverty. Systems create poverty. If, for example, rural villagers did not have an overabundance of children, would they have as many malnourished children? No. A cultural tradition (system) that says a man is measured by his ability to propagate the species is what creates poverty. A system that fails to provide education for its people so that they can be more highly skilled laborers but instead spends a bigger amount of money on military weapons is what creates poverty.
In other words, whatever you might do with even the large amount of money you have will not change a system. This is not to discourage you from being motivated to assist, but take your time. Do some homework. Find out what the real issues are. Determine if a phone call to an elected official would be of greater value than sending a bucket of money.
Take your time. Breathe. Relax. Reflect. The motivation, if you are truly sincere, will not die on the vine of your immediate, contemplative inactivity. Conduct some due diligence and discover how you may utilize your assets to support something for which you now have a passion in ways that you never thought possible. This is the power of motivation aligned with wisdom.
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"Ohhh, you are just so not going to believe what I did on my trip to India."
Have you ever heard these words? Not verbatim, of course, but something similar. This is what may be referred to as "VolunTourism proselytizing." No, the individual in this particular case is not giving you a whack on the head with a set of scriptural references, but the effect is similar. Their passion is meeting you squarely in the jaw when you have a toothache from the other things that you are having to deal with in your life.
Whatever you do, avoid the story-telling bit. If you want to have a dinner party and "slide-show" of your VolunTourism trip, then use your favorite web-based process or postcard and invite friends and colleagues to learn more about your excursion. This gives them the opportunity to decline if they so choose. And freedom to decline is what everyone deserves.
You will be passionate and enthusiastic, and, in some cases, downright zealous, but this cannot intrude on the lives of others. If you really want to share your story with all of the great warmth that you experienced throughout your trip, don't you want an audience that is ready to hear you? Indeed you do. And they will likely follow in your footsteps if you follow this type of approach.
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This is not an exhaustive list of what you may experience, but it represents the challenges that the majority of VolunTourists face when returning from a VolunTourism adventure. Some of you may not relate to these at all. If you have very different types of decompression, please let us know. We are happy to add them to our list.
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