Before I left for a three-month volunteer teacher position working with Burmese migrants in Ranong, Thailand (which subsequently turned into 15 months) I pondered some of the issues raised in my last blog: We Need to Talk About Voluntourism: A Commentary Was I doing the right thing? Was I really needed there? What would the impact of having someone from another culture and no knowledge of the local language be? Were my experience and qualifications adequate to do the job I was tasked with? Rather than become part of the problem, I wanted to empower, build capability and inspire.
Social impacts of travelling are important but can be complex. Here are some thoughts on how one might be an ethical traveller.
During my most recent sojourn to Myanmar, I thought about what it means to be an ethical traveller. As a person who strives to live a responsible life - both environmentally and socially, is it possible to continue this as a tourist? While on holiday, these aspirations don't disappear for me, but the challenges are sometimes different and the boundaries between 'right' and 'wrong' become blurred.