If there is just one thing volunteering can teach us, it’s that a simple act of kindness can go a really long way. Whether you choose to volunteer close to home, a few cities away, or even abroad in a foreign land, a positive impact can be made.
On the premiere episode of “Longevity Road Trip” (Monday, February 12 at 9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT), recently married couple Sonia and Lennox visit Peru and have an eye-opening voluntourism experience.
What in the world is voluntourism, you ask?
As explained by Projects-Abroad.ca, voluntourism is “a combination of volunteering and tourism…a popular form of international travel that allows you to contribute to sustainable development while exploring a new country and culture.”
Voluntouring can take many forms, including teaching English to children in schools, gathering food for citizens, and helping local companies improve how they do business. These endeavors, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg.
“The reason a lot of people go is that they’re curious – it’s an adventure,” explains Chris Snyder, member of the Rotary Club of Toronto and a coordinator of volunteering abroad efforts. “Certainly, a lot of the people we go [with], most of them have a few dollars in their pockets. They’re not hugely wealthy, but they want to do more than just give money – they want to do some hands-on stuff.”
In terms of accommodations, some voluntourists opt to take up residence with a host family that’s based in the area in which they’re visiting. This has been advertised as a wonderful way for voluntourists to further immerse themselves in a community and learn about its traditions.
Before signing up as a voluntourist, though, it’s important to do lots of research. As much as partaking in such an experience can be exceptionally rewarding, not all situations are created equal. Thus, it’s important to thoroughly examine the part of the world you’d like to visit, those who are coordinating your trip, as well as what can be done if the opportunity doesn’t go as planned. To steer clear of avoidable missteps, an extra dose of due diligence can’t hurt.
Once that is all handled, voluntourism could very well become a life-changing experience for both yourself, and those you’d offered assistance to.
On the premiere episode of “Longevity Road Trip” (Monday, February 12 at 9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT): Recently married couple Sonia and Lennox journey to Lobitos, a remote village on the Peruvian coast. They work with a local community group to teach children to surf, speak English, learn ocean ecology and become community leaders.