The Good Side & Bad Side of International Volunteering
The Good Side
In a world filled with poverty, inequality, famine and war, international volunteers have a unique power to step in and help bring about positive economic and social change. Volunteers can influence better government policies, support new development projects, and assist with complex economic & social solutions in the international community.
In fact, international volunteering can act as a tool to quickly move forward development and lessen hardships, such as disease, famine & poverty. International volunteers have addressed these by bringing knowledge and resources to their volunteer projects and assisting locals with their development goals. International volunteering can be beneficial because poverty occurs on a large scale but volunteering works on one project at a time to break down global issues into manageable, actionable chunks on a local level. Volunteers do what they can with what they have to make a difference here and now, instead of getting stuck with abstract, seemingly insurmountable problems. In this way, international volunteering acts on the hope that change does occur one person and one project at a time.
The Bad Side
People’s livelihoods can be at risk if international volunteers and development organizations do not have a thorough understanding of how to properly develop and overcome challenges in development. Such potential pitfalls include:
· Aid money mismanaged
· Inefficiency and wastefulness
· Hurting local industry
· Insufficient local knowledge
· Not sustainable
· Not thinking long-term
In order to prevent these problems, international volunteers can research how to overcome them. Pre-project preparation includes learning how to utilize best practices in development and researching the host community’s economics, government & culture. The new international volunteer has come about to help each project use proven development methods, be sustainable, focus on the community & be successful in the long term.
To learn more, please check out my book, The New International Volunteer: A Hands-On Guide to Sustainable & Inclusive Development, available here.