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.
A while back a friend sent me an article written in The Spinoff entitled "We need to talk about voluntourism". 'Voluntourism' or volunteer tourism, is based upon the concept of doing something good while travelling, and has been gaining popularity in recent years. NGOs connect people wanting to give something back with projects (usually) in so-called developing countries. This may include assisting with construction, conservation and environmental projects, teaching English and the oft sought after orphanage tourism. While it is often possible to help for long periods of time - months or years, tourists often dedicate part of their holiday to a project, say a few weeks.
Social impacts of travelling are important but can be complex. Here are some thoughts on how one might be an ethical traveller.
What is an ethical traveller? I my last blog I posed a series of questions and dilemmas I had encountered during my recent trip to Myanmar. Here are some thoughts on how one might be an ethical traveller. To me, being this means aspiring to travel in both a social and environmentally responsible manner.
So you want to buy a new laptop or a smart phone, but you've read about numerous social and environmental impacts during their lifecycles. You've learnt about polluting production processes - the leaching of toxic chemicals and the heavy reliance on fossil fuels. You are aware that making electronics requires the mining of minerals which… Continue reading Computer Buying Tips for the Ethically Minded
Back in January, I wrote about how much plastic waste I am generating while living in Thailand in 31 Days of Plastic and then I explored ways I could reduce this in Towards Plastic Free. As I discussed, escaping using plastic is quite a challenge here in Thailand, more so than if I was living… Continue reading Things I’ve done to reduce my plastic footprint
After my recent trip to Southern Myanmar, I discuss the ethics of travelling to country with current conflict.