What is voluntourism?
It is a conscious amalgamation of a voluntary service to a destination with traditional elements of travel.
In simple words, choose a destination and a type of voluntary service which satiates your travel needs as well. It can have elements such as arts, culture, geography, history and recreation.
Post updated on : May 11th, 2020.
Taste of Voluntourism
Combining travel and volunteering, voluntourism is a popular trend now. Whether it is for helping the environment or the local community, voluntourism or traveling to volunteer for a charitable cause, is one of the most dynamic trends afoot. It is a word that is both awkward and elegant, and at times misinterpreted as well.
One of the classes.
How to plan for voluntourism
Decide on time frame you can afford to do the volunteer service.
Voluntourism is not
Why I chose to teach in Cambodia
Sometimes selecting type of volunteer work can be very interesting and of course, challenging. 🙂
You should go for a program what you like to do, or can do as per your profession, hobby or condition of physical health.
When I went to Cambodia for volunteering, I had a few choices as well.
My first choice was to work for a women’s home in eastern Cambodia where sexually abused women & girls were housed but there were a couple of hitches. First, it was my first time with that NGO. Being a sensitive issue, they wanted someone who had already worked for them. Second, they needed at least six month’s commitment from me which was not possible at that time.
A few other options were suggested to me by the NGO with whom I had tied up. Some of them were beyond my capacity. Had I opted for them, it would have been a hilarious disaster for both the parties. 😀
Here are some of them.
That’s me teaching and the regular teacher translating it to the children.
One was teaching football
When granny sang a song !
Travelling is counting number of memories, not places.
That’s my tag-line. If you read my profile anywhere, this is what I always maintain. For me memories of a journey are far more important & cherishable than places. Places change their shapes, sizes and the looks with time. Memories never.
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“Excuse me; can I help this lady in some way?” I asked a woman standing behind the push cart pointing towards an old woman, her neighbour, who looked dazed sitting behind another food stall.
February, 2010. Seven in the evening, I was in night market at Krabi, Thailand where I stayed for a fortnight while solo backpacking in South East Asia. Being alone, I had all the time in the world exploring things around me and it was my second day here.
“Yeah, I would like to help that woman sell her things”.
“No, I am serious. I had her
As you all know I have just returned back after volunteering in a school in Cambodia. This story is about a student Thoch Chorlheang and my special bond with him.
It was my first day at school as a volunteer teacher in a new town of a new country. I felt like a kid who was going to start his first ever day of education. Lack of a common language had made me both excited and nervous. I was wondering how I am going to communicate with students who understood very little or no English.
I had already charted out a rough plan of my way of teaching after meeting with people at the NGO who had apprised me of students’ current level of knowledge of English.
Here in school, after the customary round of greetings and introductions, all students settled in their respective seats. As the normal scene in any class, I could see them whispering and discussing me. Ignoring them, as I started discussing about the curriculum and related stuff with their regular teacher, I heard a voice.
One of my classes.
Living an expat life
As I sip Chinese tea sitting in my balcony, I try to look back at the time spent in this country.
I live in an urbanized village of Siem Reap, Cambodia. There is no electricity in the area for last 3 hours and I am told that around 6 years back they had electricity for only 3-4 hours a day. It’s quite an improvement, they say. The morning is not very hot … a cloudy day again.
Awesome Sun emerging, overpowering the dark night.
The tea is prepared on a small gas camp stove; the only stove I have for cooking. I gaze into my cup. The tea is almost colorless and tasteless without milk or sugar… does it remind me of something? Is it like my life here in Cambodia?
I was going to a school !
I was both excited and nervous. What’s in store for me in this town of a new country where lack of a common language is a big problem for us. Last four days, I had difficulty in explaining what I wanted to eat or where I wanted to go. Then how am I going to communicate with teachers and students of the school?
So what if I am a volunteer teacher, I was feeling like a kid going to a new school.
All these emotions bothered me constantly as I took the transport to the school that is around 3 KM away from my place of stay.
It took a while to find the place. This tuk-tuk driver, like any one of his brotherhood, would know the way to all the tourist spots and even smallest hotels in nooks & corners of Siem Reap, Cambodia but not know even the best educational institutions let alone this small little government school that was on the way to the airport in the outskirts!
One of the classes.
My contact at the school was