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How One Organization is Working with Orphanages in India for Long-Term Solutions

Orphanages are a controversial subject in the international volunteering industry. Over the past decade, stories and reports have highlighted poor practices in the industry, sketchy volunteer programs, and enough issues to give anyone pause. The fervor started over the orphanage scene in Cambodia, but spread to questionable tours in Africa and now fears grow for how expanding tourism […]

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New Social Enterprise Opens in Bagan, Myanmar

A new partnership between Friends-International and the Myanmar Youth Development Institute is bringing vocational training opportunities to the youth of Bagan, Myanmar with the creation of Sanon, Bagan’s first socially responsible restaurant. For those of you who haven’t heard of Friends-International, it’s a social enterprise working toward providing a better future for marginalised children and youth, […]

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36 Beautiful Quotes About Volunteering & Travel

A good quote can serve of a handy reminder for why you’ve set out on a course in life. These ideas can also serve as a gentle nudge to reconsider and reframe how you see the world. There are many reasons to volunteer and serve, but the profound and underlying truth under them all is that […]

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How Responsible Travel Impacts Fairtrade Tea in Kenya

Few activities are older and more deeply rooted in tradition than tea. Thousands of years ago, tea was an auspicious and expensive treat — royalty sipped tea over important discussions. Over time, as it became more accessible, new variations arose. Tea is now an essential part of almost every culture across the globe. Tea has become an international symbol of […]

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Giving Helps You Feel More Connected, Here’s How

Through my work in the travel industry, I’ve seen many travelers draw clear lines in the sand around the nature of their vacation. Some plan for only luxurious beach getaways, others a backpacking trip, and some embark on a specifically designed volunteer vacation. Travel, however, is more deeply nuanced than any of these bold delineations. […]

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Good for Community: Service Offered Abroad Can Be Just As Powerful at Home

“Community service” is an interesting term. Technically, it is simply another phrase synonymous with volunteering. The word’s connotation, however, implies a style of volunteering with a much more tangible and direct impact, often on underserved populations and projects within a community. Let us therefore look at community-driven volunteering and how it plays out in your […]

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The Art of Giving and Travel

Giving is good for you. It’s a statement many have heard before, but the concrete benefits of giving are one of those more airy concepts difficult to research. Over the past year though, I’ve seen this idea take flight in mainstream media as the giving mindset doesn’t just lift your spirits for a day, but […]

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Fighting Apathy, Fighting Poverty

I recently watched a recording of rock legend Bono giving a rousing TED Talk  filmed at the 2013 TED conference. The topic, which he framed in the context of a brief ten minute presentation, was on the current state of world poverty. I think that, if you’d asked me to comment intelligently on the topic […]

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Examining Priorities: Climate Change or World Poverty?

Knowing which issues are worth spending time solving is one of the things I find perhaps most daunting about volunteering and development work. There is no agreed upon to-do task list on which global issues we should solve first; and people mostly outside of development (like me) are easily swayed by emotional reactions to the images perpetuated by […]

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Gifts for Greenies!

Fa-la-la, y’all! Christmas is coming. Mention this factoid in a mixed group right now, and one is liable to elicit reactions ranging from gleeful excitement to naked terror–with an individual’s feelings largely contingent on how much progress they’ve made on their holiday shopping. There are, of course, plenty of people who celebrate other festive occasions at this […]