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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Voluntourism

Lately, I've seen a lot of buzz surrounding mission trips, or rather, "voluntourism."

Many of my classmates from high school participated on mission trips to 3rd world countries where they helped build houses, teach English, fix up schools, etc., and while they were there, they took tons of pictures. They would gather a group of children around them and smile big for the camera, then come home and post about their travels on Facebook.

All in all, they seemed to be having a wonderful time.

The controversy as of late is whether or not people still go on mission trips to actually do good, or if they are going simply to see the world, work a little, and then make it look like they did a bunch of service. Many take trips to Jamaica, Haiti, China, India, even England, and serve with schools, churches, or other organizations.

Some people feel that these types of "mission trips" are misguided and need to be adjusted, and in some cases, I must agree. I think we all can say that the world needs a little help, be it economically, socially, environmentally, etc. In my opinion, voluntourism isn't exactly a good thing. It's a cheap trip to a foreign country in the eye of the missionary, but overall, those in the other country still receive an improvement in their lives, be it a new home, school building, etc.

Some also argue that these trips are actually quite crude, because they essentially take advantage of the people who dwell in these destinations, because all they do is take photos and try and force their ways of life upon them.

via

Personally, I know that if I participated in a trip to say, Nepal, like one of my high school classmates, you bet I would take pictures. I would want to document my time there, and if that involved a child or two that I befriended, I would want to have that photo for memories later. If I took this trip to Nepal, like my extremely brave, incredibly giving, and pretty much best person I know friend, I would certainly share the experience either on here or on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/whateverothersocialmediaisouttherethesedays. And I don't think it's a bad thing.

The girl who is in Nepal is honestly the kindest person on the planet (if you know her, you know I'm right), and she would never post these pictures to attract attention to herself, thinking "oh, look at me, standing here with all these poor children, I bet people will think I'm awesome now!" No. She wouldn't think that at all, and I honestly struggle with the notion that that's what every teenager who has the privilege to travel and serve thinks too.

I think that people want to see the world. That includes all the nasty, dirty parts of it. You can't really see Jamaica without seeing the slums, can you? Or visit Rio de Janiero without venturing into the villages, just like you can't go to CancĂșn, hang out at the beach, and claim you've seen all of Mexico when you haven't touched the cobble-stoned streets of Taixo. The world is a dirty place, but it's full of people who need a new schoolhouse or a new house in general. Although making voluntourism seem like such a horrible thing, in the end I think everybody benefits a little bit.

 xx, Victoria

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xx, Victoria