Want to help? First you must be willing to learn.
This year, over ten million people will go abroad, eager to find the perfect blend of adventure and altruism. Volunteer travel can help you find your place in the world—and find out what you’re made of. So why do so many international volunteer programs fail to make an impact? Why do some do more harm than good?
Learning Service offers a powerful new approach that invites volunteers to learn from host communities before trying to 'help' them. It's also a thoughtful critique of the sinister side of volunteer travel; a guide for turning good intentions into effective results; and essential advice on how to make the most of your experience.
This book is for volunteers and educators alike. If you’re wondering if volunteer travel is right for you; if you’re getting on the plane tomorrow; or if you’re trying to adjust to life as a returned volunteer—this is the book you need in your bag.
Claire Bennett first volunteered overseas as a teenager in Nepal, where she now lives. Driven by an insatiable desire to change the world, she helped to found a rural development organization, PHASE. Confronted with the complexities of the aid world but determined not to become jaded, she shifted her focus towards what she believes to be the root causes of global injustice: the lack of awareness about development issues in the world. She was the UK coordinator of youth organization Development in Action, supported young people to take action on global issues with Global Youth Action, and coordinated a DFID strategy to embed a global dimension in classroom education. After volunteering with VSO in Cambodia, where she met Daniela, Claire now owns a training company in Nepal, works for US-based global citizenship education company Where There Be Dragons and freelances as a development education consultant.
Joseph Collin’s teenage experiences volunteering in Latin America and the Philippines led to a lifetime of learning, writing, and lecturing about the impact of US policies on the lives of the world’s impoverished majority. He is co-founder of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First); a Guggenheim Fellow recognized for his work on issues of inequitable development; and a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz. His books include Food First, World Hunger: 10 Myths, Chile’s Free-Market Miracle: A Second Look, No Free Lunch, Philippines: Fire on the Rim, and Aid As Obstacle. Collins has been a consultant in Africa, Asia and Latin America to UN and international non-governmental organizations. He lives and surfs in Santa Cruz, California.
Zahara Heckscher lived a life dedicated to social justice, tirelessly campaigning on a wide range of social issues from ending apartheid in South Africa to ensuring cancer patients in the US have access to life-saving medicines. Her career as a writer and social justice organizer was grounded in her work overseas: volunteering to plant fruit trees in rural Zambia and helping to build a medical clinic in Nicaragua. With Joe, she was a co-author of How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas and she was a contributing editor and regular columnist at Transitions Abroad. Her articles have been published in Community Jobs magazine and in the book Global Backlash: Citizen Initiatives for a Just World Economy. She had an M.A. in International Development from American University. After nearly a decade of battling with cancer, Zahara died just as this book was being readied for publication. She has left many legacies to this world that will continue to have an impact for generations; we hope this book will be one of them.
Daniela Papi-Thornton’s interest in volunteer travel began with her work in Cambodia as the founder of PEPY Tours, an education travel company and PEPY, a youth leadership organization. During her six years in Cambodia, Daniela shifted PEPY’s work away from a focus on service to a focus on development education. She became an international advocate for a learning-first approach to service, as the anti-orphanage tourism movement. She went on to do her MBA at Oxford’s Said Business School through the Skoll Scholarship and subsequently began working for the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship. As the Deputy Director of the Center, Daniela designed new leadership programming for students interested in social impact careers and created educational curricula on systems-led approaches to social change. Her report and accompanying SSIR article on Tackling Heropreneurshp have been widely read, and the Impact Gaps Canvas, a tool she designed to help people consider the systems in which they work, is used in many universities around the world. Daniela now lives in sunny Boulder, Colorado with her husband and young son.
“If you are among the growing number of today’s travelers eager to give back in a positive way to the people and places you visit, then read this book now. The authors provide a profound understanding of what it takes to have a meaningful volunteer experience abroad with important insights that will also help guide you on a lifelong journey to make the world a better place.” — Costas Christ, Editor-at-Large and Senior Advisor, National Geographic Travel
“Volunteering overseas is life changing, and getting and giving the most from it requires an experienced partner. Learning Service is that partner, as the authors offer their combined lifetimes of accumulated knowledge. Gain insight and confidence for an adventure more rewarding than you’d ever imagined.” — Frances Moore Lappé, Author of 19 books including Diet for a Small Planet, and Co-Founder of Food First: Institute for Food and Development Policy