I had put this article on my blog a few months ago. I re-read it tonight. From Helping the World. And Me., Macleans Spetember 19, 2008:

“Canadians have a long tradition of sending youth to developing countries to build schools, work in orphanages and fight AIDS. Since 1960, an estimated 65,000 have gone overseas through the country’s major volunteer-sending organizations, and countless others have participated in church and corporate projects or internships sponsored by government and universities. But evidence is emerging that raises serious concerns about what these opportunities have come to mean. In regions plagued by issues that decades of international aid have been unable to resolve, it is often difficult for unskilled volunteers and interns to be anything more than tourists. And experts worry that instead of fostering cross-cultural understanding, the experiences may, in some instances, have the opposite effect — reinforce negative stereotypes in young Canadians, and breed resentment in the communities that host them…

… these opportunities have become a “product” that can be purchased and cashed in for course credit or a line on a resumé…

But no matter how good their intentions, even before they step off the plane this underlying quest for otherness “denotes a kind of tourism; gazing upon those less often gazed” — a notion, suspects Tiessen, that “a lot of people would be uncomfortable with.”


~ by kcanderson on March 6, 2009.

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