When I was talking to my parents about our final collaborative paper focusing on voluntourism, my mom interrupted me mid conversation to correct me because she thought I was pronouncing “volunteerism” wrong. I realized then that not many people have been exposed to voluntourism, especially medical voluntourism.I decided to do a questionnaire and ask my friends and family if they had ever heard of voluntourism, and if they were unfamiliar, what did they think it was. I questioned two of my friends in the biology department who were not aware of this term, but they were knowledgeable about programs that exposed undergraduates to international medical care. My brother didn’t think “voluntourism” was a real word, but defined it in his own words as, “a person traveling around to different places and volunteering there”. This definition is not far off from the one we chose for our collaborative project, which defines a voluntourist as a person “who wishes to combine exotic vacation travel with volunteer work” (Zakaria 2014). The next question I asked was what their feelings were on the newly defined voluntourism and their interpretations of it. All three participants of my small survey answered that if the intentions of a volunteer are good, then voluntourism would be considered a positive action. I think it is interesting how this is similar to some of the class ideas in the final course statement. I realized after discussing this idea of voluntourism with people outside of the classroom that it is not well known and it makes our project even more relevant and necessary to share with and inform people.
I attached the link to The white tourist’s burden if people wanted to read it again.