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Volunteering: Combine your holiday with volunteering
Voluntourism was first coined in the Nevada tourism industry in 1998. People like the idea of combining their holiday time with getting involved through volunteering. It appeals to us at all ages and stages of our lives.
David Clemmons, founder of VolunTourism.org, offers 10 tips to think about before planning your trip.
1) Be specific about your purpose. Is it a lifelong dream or based on a personal value?
2) Set reasonable goals rather than expectations. What can you achieve—ie.: meet someone new or understand poverty better?
3) Choose a destination carefully. You are more likely to enjoy your experience if it links to something you are already familiar with such as the culture, language, an issue, or organization.
4) Do you want to accomplish something or engage with others? Physical labour to build a house is very different from teaching women to run a local small business.
5) Think about the drain on you physically and emotionally. Building that house can stress your muscles but seeing hungry children can affect your world view.
6) Plan a mix of experiences. How will this trip combine volunteer activities, local interactions, recreation and personal downtime?
7) Plan according to your comfort level. What is your tolerance in accommodations, types of transportation and timelines, environment and climate, interaction with people and type of tasks?
8) Remain open. The unexpected will happen, so be prepared.
9) Ask about local guides. Who will you turn to for support when the unexpected occurs?
10) What is the voluntourism footprint? Are you clear about the give and take between your service and your take aways from the experience?
Numerous charities in the Central Okanagan work in other countries. Go to www.kcr.ca, click on Community Information Search and type in International Development. You might be surprised by what you find.
Dawn Wilkinson is the coordinator for the Community Information and Volunteer Centre. Go to www.kcr.ca for other volunteer opportunities in the Central Okanagan.
250-763-8008, ext 24