Volunteering to help people in need combined with travelling to faraway places is a new trend in the travel industry .It is called voluntourism. People travel to other countries, learn languages and other cultures and gain new experiences. On the other side, they volunteer to help others who are not as well off as they are.
Recent statistics show that in the past few years voluntourism has been one of the fastest-growing areas of tourism. More than 1.6 million people around the world are volunteers in other countries. They work in orphanages, help build schools, assist in hospitals and do farming work in developing countries. Some of them establish lasting bonds with people far away.
While voluntourism has been around for over a century, modern volunteering started with the Peace Corps, a program that the US government started in the 1960s.
There are many reasons why people want to engage in voluntourism. Students see it as a gap year after school, others simply want to take time out from a job and do something else. Then there are those who are bored and merely seek adventure. However, many voluntourists do not see volunteering as what it is. They think it is a cheap way of traveling and don't really want to get involved in hard work.
Not everyone sees voluntourism in a positive way. Critics say that if people really want to help those in need there are many opportunities in their own community to do this. On the other side, volunteers are often not skilled enough for the tasks that they do. Travel experts point out that in some cases voluntourists are exploited by the organization that sets up the trips.
Job organizations urge volunteers to inform themselves about organizations and projects before applying for a job. Serious development programs are mostly sponsored by international organizations.
International volunteer helps people in southern India - Image: Planète Urgence
apply = to write a letter or email stating that you want a job
assist = help
bond = relationship
century = a hundred years
combine = together with
community = neighborhood, town
developing countries = poor countries in Asia, Africa and South America
development = when something gets bigger or better
engage in = get involved in
establish = create , make
experience = learning something new by doing or seeing things
exploit = to use someone in an unfair way; to take advantage of a person
gain = get
gap year = year between leaving school and starting at the university
government = the people who rule a country
however = but
in need = if you don't have the necessary things in life
involve = here: to be part of an activity or work
lasting = something that continues for a longer time
merely = just, only
opportunity = a chance to do something that you want
orphanage = home for children whose parents are dead or not able to care for them
point out = explain, show
recent = a short time ago
seek = look for
serious = here: good
skilled = having the abilities to do a job well
sponsor = to support an activity by paying for it
task = job, work
urge = strongly advise or suggest
volunteer = person who does something out of their own free will without getting paid for it