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Voluntourism is more often a "benevolent invasion" than real help

Tourists helping villagers set up a community hall in Cambodia
flickr user Thomas Wanhoff
Tourists helping villagers set up a community hall in Cambodia

The Next Idea

Would you be willing to take a vacation that's centered around helping others?

Perhaps through a church or school group. Maybe it's teaching English. Maybe it's building a school in a struggling country like, say, Haiti. 

It's called "voluntourism."

The intentions are good, but the results might not be as helpful as the voluntourists are hoping for.

Mary Jo Callan is director of the Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learningat the University of Michigan. Kristi Gleason is Senior Director of Global Programs at Bethany Global.

The two joined us today to talk about the problems inherent in voluntourism, and how churches, schools, and other organizations can pivot away from that surface level voluntourism and move toward a community-engaged and deeper investment with communities and people. 

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