Dilemma Of Volun-tourism

Dilemma Of Volun-tourism

Who's really benefitting from a week abroad?
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Voluntourism is a growing and booming industry in which companies sell volunteer trips in the same manner travel companies sell vacation trips. Often, these volunteers are women and young adults between the ages of 20 and 25. They come with little or no training, a set task in mind, and a naive ambition to save the world. Whether they are aware of it or not, many of these volunteers have the notion that their American education and privileged life will allow them to make a difference despite the language, geographical, and cultural barriers they may face.

This of course, is not entirely the volunteers fault. They’re basically sold a lie by the companies providing them with this opportunity, that they will be able to make a great difference, despite the lack of training, and problematic nature of allowing volunteers to rotate through a classroom with no real curriculum to follow.

And of course, not all companies sending people to less privileged countries are like this. Some do have training and strict curriculum for the their volunteers. Those types of organizations, however, are starting to become hard to come by and often require a lengthy commitment time. The lengthy commitment time required has allowed for this niche industry of voluntouriusm to expand so rapidly.

These companies know that the nature of their programs can often have detrimental effects on the communities they’re supposed to be serving. Looking at orphanage tourism, in which companies send volunteers to orphanages, is the best way to explain how companies can sell an experience that’s marketable as being life-changing for both the volunteer and the children involved, even though it’s actually damaging the child long-term.

The voluntourisum industry understands that it’s an extremely satisfying experience to have a child immediately attach themselves to a volunteer. This desire to be needed that we feel, however, is not more important than the genuine health of the child -- supposedly, the reason the company exists in the first place.

These children have already experiences loss and abandonment, and companies are fully aware the impact a volunteer leaving has on the child will not be seen by that volunteer. As put by the Barbie Savior Project, healthy children do not jump into a stranger’s arms. That's a sign of serious attachment issues and is not normal behavior. To perpetuate this behavior with the popularization of this industry of orphan tourism is intentional hypocrisy.

It’s easy to place the blame on the organizers within the volunteerism industry for prying on the naivety of volunteers. It’s vital to understand that responsibility falls on both the companies and the consumers. After all, they are businesses. Posting a picture of volunteer with the homeless and hunger in their own county is a lot less marketable than a picture with a child in a third world country. What these companies are doing, even though it is what many believe to be unethical, is not illegal.

It’s up to the volunteers, who are basically consumers, to understand what their impact will be through the methods different volunteer organizations utilize. It’s also up to the perspective volunteer to be able to acknowledge that the social dichotomy in North America allows for it’s residents to be oblivious to the issues of homelessness and hunger within our own continent, and that an impact can be made regardless of where you volunteer, despite what many of the companies within this industry advertise.

Furthermore, the consumers themselves should really consider what impact their short presence really has on the service community as a whole. It my personal belief that a lot of these trips perpetuate a white savior complex. It’s not a far stretch to say that the majority of volun-tourists from the United States in third countries, whether it be in a orphanage or not, are white.

The pictures that come out of these trips include one well dressed white person in front of a group of children with darker pigmentation. Some cite this image as being reminiscent of colonization. Poverty is the reality for the majority in the photo. For many but not all that go on these trips, their poverty has become a vacation, a source of ogling. Whether intentional on the volunteers part or not, some of these trips act as a validation of privilege in result of the emotional experience to come out of the trip.

Ultimately, volunteering should be about the people, often children, in the communities these voluntarism groups frequent. Traveling is certainly a fun aspect of volunteering, but should not be the main motivator. It’s clear that these children affected by volunteers deserve better. They deserve mentors, they deserve teachers that speak English and their own languages, along with sufficient teaching materials provided from the companies that have the supposed purpose of aiding in the betterment of these children's lives. They do not deserve the bulk of what volun-tourisum industry is.

Volunteering abroad does not have to keep continuing on this trend. There’s a history of Western allies working with a variety of organizations in developing communities in more efficient and responsible ways. It’s ultimately up to volunteers to have a level of self-awareness of their own potential impact, and the efficiency and social consciousnesses of the organizations they choose to serve with.

Cover Image Credit: CBC Radio

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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11 Amazing TV Shows That Are Ending in 2019

All good things must come to an end.

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It might just be the beginning of 2019 but there are many TV series wrapping up already. There are many breathtaking and original pilots around along with several reboots coming. This might be one of the greatest year for TV.

However, all good things must come to an end. Some series have been planned out and are going to be finished while others have been cut short. Sadly, here's a list of TV series to say goodbye to this year.

1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Final Date: May

12 Seasons//279 episodes

2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

www.youtube.com

Final Date: End of 2019

7 seasons//91 episodes

3. Jane the Virgin (CW)

www.flickr.com

Final Date: Mid-late 2019

5 seasons//100 episodes

4. Games of Thrones (HBO)

HBO

Final Date: Summer

8 Seasons//73 episodes

5. Broad City (Comedy Central)

Comedy Central

Final Date: March

5 seasons//50 episodes

6. VEEP (HBO)

HBO

Final Date: Spring

7 seasons//67 episodes

7. Homeland (Showtime)

Showtime

Final date: Summer

8 seasons//96 episodes

8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Final date: January 25

4 seasons//52 episodes

9. The Affair (Showtime)

Amazon

Final Date: End of 2019

5 seasons//42 episodes

10. Friends From College (Netflix)

Final Date: End of 2019

2 seasons//16 episodes

11. Crashing (HBO)

HBO

Final Date: End of 2019

3 seasons//24 episodes

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