"Voluntourism" and the dangers of exotifying international aid

1. ‘Looks good on your CV’: The sociology of voluntourism recruitment in higher education
By Coleen McGloin

Under the banner of 'making a difference' students are solicited to travel to developing countries to aid poor communities, to enjoy the sights and tastes of the distant and exotic ‘other’, the ‘experience’ touted as a useful addition to the curriculum vitae (CV). This article addresses the discursive terrain of voluntourism by providing an analysis of the ways in which students are invited to participate in such cultural practices while recruiters give little or no information about the lived realities of people in poor nations.

2. Western do-gooders need to resist the allure of 'exotic problems'
By Courtney E. Martin

This article argues that problems far from home in the global south seem easier to solve, but that embracing complexity is preferable to the phenomenon of  'reductive seduction' or falling in love with quick fixes that are not always malicious, but often reckless. Controversially, it suggests that longer-term prospect of staying home and facing systemic complexity head on is sometimes more honorable. Or, go if one must go, "stay long enough, listen hard enough so that 'other people' become real people"  and that  they may no longer seem so easy to “save.”

 3. The voluntourist's dilemma

By Jacob Kushner

Unsatisfying as it may be, this article suggests we ought to acknowledge the truth that amateurs often don’t have much to offer the developing world. Perhaps we ought to abandon the assumption that we, simply by being privileged enough to travel the world, are somehow qualified to help ease the world’s ills. The author has come to believe that the first step toward "making the world a better place" is to simply experience that place. Unless one is willing to devote your career to studying international affairs and public policy, researching the mistakes that foreign charities have made while acting upon good intentions, and identifying approaches to development that have data and hard evidence behind them volunteering abroad may not for you.

 4. Sustainability in voluntourism organisations: A study of implementations and effects

By Evelina Andersen and Ida Ryberg

This research paper, with a case study on the Philipenes, suggests that  voluntourism is indeed a more sustainable form of tourism, and that vountourism leads to increased local access to education and work. However,  to determine if organisations are able to optimise their sustainability, they need to address economic, environmental, and social aspects of a local problem.

 5. ‘Don't make my people beggars’: a developing world house of cards

By Bethina Loiseau, et.al

The authors describes a faith-based volunteer on non-skilled youth in an un-named, medium-sized Latin American country. They argue that the economic impacts arising from the phenomenon of short-term international volunteering often vary; while volunteers introduce a new revenue that may support local job creation, they may also inadvertently disrupt the local workforce with their contributions, and thereby drive up unemployment. In addition, there may be a shift of economic focus towards attracting and supporting volunteers, rather than developing meaningful capacity in needed developmental areas. The article also considers the impacts of intended evangelism, unintended cultural colonialism, and education over service.