14 August 2010

my volunteer style is definitely not a vacation

Lately, a lot of companies have been trying to sell me on outrageously priced volunteer vacations or voluntourism opportunities. Let me be loud and clear: The Global Citizen Project (in its current limited budgetary glory) is in no way a luxe vacation. It does not even remotely resemble how I travel on my own time and dime. So when I get pitched packages that run into the high hundreds of dollars per week and raise a dubious eyebrow, I’m in no way consoled when they come back with, “But we throw in a two day trip to Machu Picchu, a weekly Spanish lesson or four star accommodations.” That’s all sounds mighty swell, but it’s so not what my project is about.

Everyone is entitled to travel and volunteer however their heart (and budget) desires. I tend to be more of a DIY girl, who doesn’t require a whole lot of handholding, nor, do I subscribe to spending lots of dough to do good. Especially when I’ve taken on the task of participating in 12 volunteer projects over the course of a year; it’s just not financially feasible. Besides, I want to work. As hard as I can. If I had copious amounts of cash to burn, would I like to see how the other half gives back? Absolutely. I’ve seen some pretty slick voluntourism catalogs filled with feel good eye-candy and it all looks so very civilized compared to my current volunteering style. Warm water? Hot meals? Six hour work schedules? Oh my! These experiences seem a bit luxury laden for what The Global Citizen Project aims to accomplish, but if I were embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and wanted to tie-in a volunteer component, these trips seem to strike the perfect balance between service, exploration and amenities.

If I win Travelocity’s Travel for Good Program’s $5,000 Voluntourism Grant through WEtv’s WE Do Good Awards Contest, I’d be over-the-moon ecstatic to participate in any one of Travelocity’s official voluntourism partners’ programs: Cross-Cultural Solutions, Earthwatch Institute, Globe Aware, or American Hiking Society. Any one of these programs would be like a Porsche 918 Spyder to my current Pontiac Bonneville shoestring budget projects, plus I could share the voluntourism experience with someone else. (More give back power, yay!)  Even if these programs don't exactly fit my volunteer travel style, it would provide an interesting first-person perspective in the big picture voluntourism puzzle. (I mean, I am trying to convey as many varied volunteer options as possible to my friends, readers and followers, afterall.)  As added bonuses, it would be a huge honor to be featured in a future issue of Ladies' Home Journal magazine and also featured on WEVolunteer.TV. It’s like the holy trinity of voluntourism wish list winnings.

Please vote daily here. Ballots close at 11:59pm on August 31, 2010. It’s quick and easy to vote and you don’t have to fork over your email address or any personal information. Many, many thanks in advance for your continued love and support. And get out there and volunteer - it really doesn't take much to make a difference. Even just a few hours in your own community goes a long way in provinding comfort and making you a hero to someone else. I pinky swear promise.


Tammy said...

you have my vote!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the post. I just checked out the American Hiking Society and may try to do one of their trips if we manage to get any sponsorship for our endeavor next year.

Charyn Pfeuffer said...

I really like what American Hiking Society is doing. Hiking and volunteering sounds pretty good to me!