Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Changing Landscape

Six years after the fact, there’s no shame in admitting that when I decided to volunteer overseas, I had no clue what I wanted to do. Destination was little more than a passing thought (when I was eventually placed in Vanuatu, I had to look it up on a map) and I didn’t really care what I’d be doing. (Building stuff? Sure, that sounded like a good idea.)

Without a background in international development, concepts related to sustainable development were foreign to me. I was your typical idealistic undergraduate student— just like the estimated 1.6 million people who volunteer overseas every year, I just wanted to help.

In fact, I only had one “must” on my list when it came to finding a volunteer-sending organization—it had to be a registered charity. I wanted to know exactly where my money was going and ensure that it wasn’t lining someone’s pocket. (It’s hard enough to wrap your mind around the concept of paying to volunteer—for me, it was even harder to swallow the idea of someone profiting from my hard-fundraised dollars.)

Six years later, I’m not sure that my criteria today would remain the same—or even if I would have the same options available to me. Continue reading on the Verge Magazine website →

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