A great article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the growing trend of “voluntourism”:
After a decade of unprecedented consumerism, the rise of voluntourism may suggest that the pendulum is swinging toward a more altruistic worldview. But there’s also a certain logic in our workaholic culture embracing the idea of a working vacation. Whatever the reasons, voluntourism seems to be attracting more professionals, families and affluent retirees – just the sorts of people the travel industry must court to stay alive in an era of exploding fuel prices.
This idea of a working vacation is certainly not new to those familiar with alternative spring break trips and similar programs. Regardless, the idea of voluntourism strikes me as not only a way to give back but also a means to gain short-term experience working abroad. Highlighted in the article are the micro finance organization Kiva.org, which began “a fellowship program that places trained volunteers with partner organizations for a minimum of 10 weeks,” and the nonprofit organization Global Volunteers, which supports volunteer vacations both abroad and in the United States.