By RAZ RASMUSSEN, Ranger Reporter:
Everyone knows what it means to volunteer, but few people are familiar with a new term: voluntouring. Voluntouring is a play on words, it means volunteering to travel, and offering beneficial services to those in need.
“It would be good as a nurse to go give back what I’ve learned and use all that knowledge that I have and give back to people who can’t afford healthcare,” said Brian Rodla, a nursing major.
Voluntouring could be something as simple as teaching English. “It really depends on where we’re going,” said Lucas Hite, an animation major. Voluntours get to choose where they would like to serve.
A variety of websites offer choices, such as govoluntouring.com and voluntour.org. These sites assist in researching destinations, as well as serving opportunities.
AC students have positive perspectives on voluntouring. “I like to travel and why not help people if you’re already there,” said Heather Gartrell, a psychology major.
Gartrell is not the only student who sees these opportunities. “It would be a cool experience and an awesome opportunity that I would definitely take,” said Reilly Jewel, a nursing major.
According to National Public Radio, voluntourism is one of the fastest growing trends in travel today. More than 1.6 million voluntours are spending about $2 billion each year.
Voluntouring has positive aspects but the practice is not without criticism. Some critics have asked whether or not tourists are becoming involved for the feeling of doing something good, to embellish a resume, or to actually serve those in need.
Are volunteers spending too much time snapping photos and hiking the volcanoes, while leaving orphans and students at the bottom?
While the mindset of volunteers can be debated, there are other issues to be aware of and a variety of fears.
“I think having to get your passport and maybe diseases would affect it,” Jewell said. “Something that’s always scared me about going to another country is breaking a law that I didn’t know about and then they could detain me.”
Prospective voluntours should research possible opportunities and weigh the risks and benefits.
“There’s definitely the risk of diseases in other countries, but there’s also governmental factors you need to take into consideration,” Morgan Key, an art history major, said.
Research is always a priority whenever jumping into something new, regardless of what it is.
Students considering voluntouring should be prepared to travel to where their efforts are needed.
“I mean yeah, there’s always negative factors that are going to contribute to it, but I feel like if you’re passionate about going in the first place and doing it, then I think you should be fine honestly,” said Andrea Mendez, a mass media major.