Monthly Archives: May 2010

Government Support for International Volunteering

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | No Comments

The other day I came across the Platform2 initiative. Platform2 is a UK program financially supported by UKaid from the Department for International Development. The program gives young adults (18-25), who would otherwise not have the opportunity, the chance to volunteer abroad for 10 weeks. The purpose of the program is to raise awareness in the UK of global issues and as the UKaid site states:

“It’s important that young adults understand the issues that shape the world they live in – it’s an investment for their future. We want to give young adults the chance to get involved at first hand.”

Platform2 is funded for three years (ending in 2010) and estimates sending 2,500 volunteers. Though this project is limited in scope it will be interesting to see how UKaid and the volunteers feel about the initiative and if there is a renewal of funding.  Despite the short term aspect of the scheme it is impressive that the government development agency is investing in international volunteering.

Currently, here in the US, supporters for volunteering abroad are gearing up for new legislation to support the scaling up of international volunteering. ServiceWorld, a policy planning process that focuses on scaling up international volunteering, has been taking policy agenda suggestions.

So what is the role of international volunteering in the policy sphere? Should it be used to raise awareness of global issues or as a way to build bridges and “smart power” diplomacy? Or are there other reasons for government support of international volunteering?

It will be exciting to see what comes of the new legislation proposals and to see what space international volunteering will take in US government initiatives.

Widening the Field: The Travel Industry, Voluntourism and International Volunteering

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | No Comments

Over the past decade field of international volunteering has seen incredible growth. Though the recession did impact growth trends, those in the field are optimistic about its continued recovery and growth. The travel industry has certainly latched onto the idea of voluntourism or volunteering while on vacation and we continue to see new trip packages that offer a way to volunteer to “give back”. Royal Caribbean just announced a new land excursion offered in Cozumel, Mexico that gives cruise-goers the chance to volunteer with the Mexican Red Cross doing landscaping at their new facility and the proceeds for the excursion going to the Red Cross.

There are of course many variations of volunteer trips. A decade ago, before the term voluntoursim became popular, international volunteering was in some respects separate from the travel industry or perhaps a subset of the industry. More and more we are seeing a blurring of the lines delineating vacationing and volunteer travel. As the field continues to grow and diversify I think we will see more questions about responsible volunteering, quality service and ethical partnerships.  So what do you think, is the broadening of the field of international volunteering a good thing?

Introduction: Volunteer International Blog

By | Genevieve Brown, IVPA Executive Director | No Comments

We live in a global community. Economies are increasingly interconnected; the internet provides access to a world of information; people are more aware of current events; yet, as individuals, organizations and nations grapple with the effects of war, natural disasters, and extreme poverty many of us live somewhat removed from today’s problems.

One way that people seek to connect and help is through international volunteering. In the United States and Europe, international volunteering has become increasingly popular. Whether it is through short-term volunteer trips or longer term commitments like through WorldTeach’s teaching program or the Peace Corps, volunteers usually come away from their experience with a widened perspective of the complexity of the problems they are trying to impact and with a renewed determination to make a change in the word.

This blog, Volunteer International, seeks to highlight some of the current issues in international volunteering as well as give inside perspectives from volunteer sending organization and their volunteers, so come back often and add your comments.