Sunday, September 15, 2019
Evaluation of Voluntourism Essay
A trend has started in the recent years, where people participate in organizations that commonly claim to be helping developing countries. This trend is fuelled by the gap year phenomenon, which is defined as Ã¢â¬Å"a period of time between 3 and 24 months taken out of education or a work career.Ã¢â¬ (Jones, 2004) With enthusiasm of Ã¢â¬Å"making a differenceÃ¢â¬ , more and more people choose voluntourism, combination of tourism and volunteer projects, as their gap year holiday option. Despite the well-intended enthusiasm, opinions regarding the contribution of voluntourism on local community are divided. The primary issue of debate is whether voluntourism provide help to the local communities. While some researchers using surveys find local people satisfied with volunteer tourists, other research investigating quality, tasks, motivation and local need of voluntourism have found it doing more harm than good. Such a harmful trend has made the UK director of VSO, one of the baggie st and earliest international development charity, warn Ã¢â¬Å"Young people want to make difference through volunteering, but they would better off travellingÃ¢â¬ ¦rather than wasting time on projects that have no impactÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ (Ward, 2007) In this paper, we will evaluate both side of the debate and carefully assess the value of voluntourism for local community. In order to assess the benefit given by volunteer tourists, it is essential to look at the quality of the helpers. Unskilled volunteers may be a burden to local communities that have to take care of them. As Stephan peck, operations director at the Scout Association, puts it Ã¢â¬Å"[bad volunteers] are like a cancerÃ¢â¬ (Ainsworth, 2012). Therefore, the volunteer selection process is critical in recruiting needed and appropriate volunteers that benefit local communities. While supporters of voluntourism claims those volunteers as satisfying, looking into their selection experience shall make it clear that these tourists are hardly qualified as helpful volunteers. Research done by Richard Forsythe in Ghana vlountourism showed that only 36% of all studied volunteer applicants in various fields went through application process more complicated than filling appli cation forms, and Ã¢â¬Å"no individuals remarked upon the selection process as a particularly challenging experience, and indeed several of the organizations interviewed admitted to accepting Ã¢â¬Ëalmost all volunteersÃ¢â¬â¢ having Ã¢â¬Ëvery few requirements, and taking Ã¢â¬Ëanyone who is interestedÃ¢â¬â¢Ã¢â¬ (Forsythe, 2011). Recruitment through application forms or basic information can only depend on the self-evaluation of applicants, who probably had no volunteering experience, as to whether they will be helpful to the local community. With such a lenient selection, the volunteers selected are much more likely to be burden than help to local volunteers and community who cry out: Ã¢â¬Å"A lot of people have very unrealistic expectations about overseas volunteering, and they want to be there for only a month or less and have no skills that are critically needed in the developing worldÃ¢â¬ (Huang, 2012). People may expect those unqualified volunteers to receive some training before starting work, but research has also showed that volunteer tourists receive almost no training. When they do receive information, much of it is about the culture and language, safety and packing with little attention toward the skills and duties involved within the volunteer placements (Forsythe, 2011). Furthermore, no more than half the volunteers received supervision or guidance during the placement (Forsythe, 2011). The organizationÃ¢â¬â¢s local presence is indispensible for placementsÃ¢â¬â¢ appropriate, long-term effectiveness and safety of volunteers. With the growing number of teenagers participating in volunteer tours, supervision and protection by organization are vital. However, some volunteers set out with enthusiastic motivation ends up in a awkward situation as Hannah Saunders, a gap year volunteer: Ã¢â¬Å"When I arrivedÃ¢â¬ ¦they didnÃ¢â¬â¢t know I was coming or what to do with me.Ã¢â¬ (Ward, 2007) Although the volunteersÃ¢â¬â¢ intention maybe beneficial, they are unqualified, untrained and unguided. Such groups of volunteers can hardly provide any high-quality help that is needed by local communities. Supporters of voluntourism may cling onto the motivation behind voluntourism to justify the trend. Indeed, motivation is also a factor often discussed when talking about the benefits of voluntourism. Supporters of voluntourism argue actions that come from altruistic intension to help, although may not provide substantial help, are at least better than nothing. The supporters say that by just participating and showing concern, it is already helping the people in dispair. It is literally, Ã¢â¬Å"you are the difference!Ã¢â¬ With the belief in altruism, people advertise voluntourism, Ã¢â¬Å"in which enthusiasm and good intentions are allowed to prevailÃ¢â¬ (Simpson, 2004). However, it seems the good intension behind voluntourism is not enough to be allowed to Ã¢â¬Å"prevailÃ¢â¬ . While many people wish to believe that motivation behind volunteering abroad is purely altruistic, research using evolutionally, social psychological, organizational and game theoretic literature as fram ework, has found that, in general, people volunteered most often when personal benefits are high (Murnighan, Kim, & Metzger, 1993). Consistent with this result, almost all authors of articles about voluntourism, even the supporters, agree that voluntourism does not come from purely altruistic motivation. Despite the difference in motivational factors concluded by different authors, all of them agree that these motivations outweigh altruism (Forsythe, 2011;Corti, Marola, & Castro, 2010;Wearing 2001; Brown, 2005; Cohen, Reichel, Shwartz, & Uriely, 2002; Tosun, 2000; Unstead-Jones, 2008). It is commonly agreed that volunteer tourists plan to satisfy the needs of communities through meeting their own needs such as Ã¢â¬Å"experiencing culturesÃ¢â¬ . If actions from altruism intention are the ones that give hope and Ã¢â¬Å"prevailÃ¢â¬ , voluntourism with self-centered motivation is not one. Furthermore, less concern in local community than in self-gain may result in idealized, incorrect assumption about local needs. Reflecting this worry about incorrect assumption, Sacha Brown, Program Manager of World Youth Intern ational, a NGO taking volunteers overseas for their development projects says, Ã¢â¬Å" there is a lot of development that is useless and is based on erroneous assumptions around what is Ã¢â¬ËbestÃ¢â¬â¢ for the community or countryÃ¢â¬ (Huang, 2012). Inexperienced volunteersÃ¢â¬â¢ erroneous expectations on local needs, together with their self-centered concerns, make them concentrate on their own enjoyment without examining what help is needed. Organizations that seek to profit from voluntourism may increase rather than reduce neglect of local need. The director of VSO is worried that competition between organizations may lead to more emphasis on volunteer enjoyment and Ã¢â¬Å"may not deliver the maximum benefits to the communities these people are working inÃ¢â¬ . (Huang, 2012) Indeed, one of the organizations interviewed by Forsythe implied that its placements were driven by preferences of volunteers rather than local needs. It is not only researchers who are concerned about whether volunteering touristsÃ¢â¬â¢ helps are actually needed. Some volunteers interviewed by Justine Tillon express their feeling of lack of acceptance by local government and citizens. Some of them felt that Ã¢â¬Å"the government and local citizens are forced to be helped by the participantsÃ¢â¬ . When there is evidence that help is Ã¢â¬Å"forcedÃ¢â¬ on local people, maybe we should really ask ourselves: Ã¢â¬Å"Does this kind of help make a peaceful word?Ã¢â¬ All has been said, some supporters may provide research that show local satisfaction toward volunteer tourists. One of such research about Moroccan studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ satisfaction toward foreign volunteer teachers of French and English showed 79% of appreciation (Corti et al., 2010). The rate is indeed high, but we should look closer into this study. The job of the volunteers studied is to give English and French classes during vacation of school year. Out of 253 students who enrolled, 32.41% left to travel with their parents in the middle of classes (Corti et al., 2010). Although the desistance rate already implies that local community regards the classes as unserious holiday childcare rather than structured learning experience, several other questions can be raised against results of this and similar other studies. First, does the rate actually reflect the work done by volunteer teachers? The improvement in studentÃ¢â¬â¢s language skills is not measured in the study. Since it was students who answered those surveys, it is questionable whether they looked at bigger picture and thought the experience educating or they were just excited to see foreigners. Inferring from previous evaluation of quality, training and supervision of volunteers, these teachers are likely to be unqualified as teachers. Of course supporters may say that the satisfaction rate is indeed the proof that the volunteers are qualified. That raises a second question. Is it voluntourism per se that is benefiting? Do they have to be volunteer tourists or they can be anyone? Considering that English and French are both official language of Morocco, classes given by mixture of nonnative and native speakers of the languages may hardly made any difference from that by local Moroccans who speak both languages. It is not clear whether the 79% satisfaction was toward Ã¢â¬Å"volunteers from abroadÃ¢â¬ or Ã¢â¬Å"people who helpedÃ¢â¬ . Questions about the touristsÃ¢â¬â¢ help per se have been studied in different contexts. Study in Gahanna showed that many volunteers are placed in daily tasks and traditional chores such as bathing, dressing, feeding and supervising of children, that can be done by anyone else (Fosythe, 2011). To justify voluntourism itself, studies about unique benefit of voluntourism need be carried out. Through this paper, we have evaluated the quality, motivation and local need of voluntourism. While there are some studies showing satisfactions toward voluntourism presented, several essential questions are raised. Through evaluation, it became clear that volunteer tourists are unskilled, authentically motivated, and to certain extent, unwelcomed. Although it may be a valuable experience for tourists, it seems that voluntourism carry few value, if not harm, to local community. Whether or not it is primary desire, the desire to volunteer is laudable. However, we need to tread more carefully, especially when dealing with people who are already suffering. Unless we have enough knowledge and transferrable skills, we might do better to travel and bring money into developing countries. Works Cited Ainsworth, D. (2012). Bad volunteers are like a cancer, says Scout Association director. Third Sector Online . Brown, S. (2005). Understanding the motives and benefits of voluntourists: What makes them tick? Retrieved from http://www.voluntourism.org/newsstudyandresearc h1005.htm Cohen, E., Reichel, A., Schwartz, Z., & Uriely, N. (2002). ). Rescuing hikers in IsraelÃ¢â¬â¢s deserts: Community altruism or an extension of adventure tourism? . Journal of Leisure Research . Corti, I. N., Marola, P. N., & Castro, M. B. (2010). Social Inclusion and Local Development through European Voluntourism: A Case Study of the Project Realized in a Neighborhood of Morocco. merican Journal of Economics and Business Administration 2 . Forsythe, R. (2011). Helping or hindering? Volunteer tourism in Ghana and its critical role in development . Huang, A. (2008, 8 1). Voluntourism: Benifit or Harm? Retrieved from Yahoo! voices: http://voices.yahoo.com/voluntourism-benefit-harm-775403.html?cat=9 Jones, A. (2004). Review of Gap Year Provision. Murnighan, J. K., Kim, J. W., & Metzger, A. R. (1993). the Volunteer Dilemma. Administrative Science Quarterly . Simpson, K. (2004). Ã¢â¬ËDoing DevelopmentÃ¢â¬â¢: The Gap Year, Volunteer Tourists and a Popular Practice of Development. Journal of International Development . Taillon, J. (2007). The Identification of Motivation in Voluntourists: Particularly Extrinsic Motivators in Vacation-Minded Volunteer Tourism Participants. Retrieved from http://justintaillon.com/FINAL% 20PAPER.doc Tosun, C. (2000). Limits to community participation in the tourism development process in developing countries. . Tourism Management . Unstead-Jones, R. (2008). An Analysis of Volunteer Motivation: Implications for International Development. The Journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research . Ward, L. (2007). YouÃ¢â¬â¢re better off backpacking-VSO warns about perils of Ã¢â¬ËvoluntourismÃ¢â¬â¢. The Guardian . Wearing, S. (2001). Volunteer tourism: Experiences that Make a Difference. CABI Publishing.