National Geographic Article Explores Five Voluntourism Myths

In a new piece for National Geographic‘s “Intelligent Travel” site, Ken Budd discusses five myths about voluntourism: what the critics get right—and what they get wrong.

“The media criticism, though well-intentioned, takes a frustratingly one-dimensional view [of voluntourism], portraying volunteers as young, selfie-obsessed do-gooders with white-savior complexes,” Ken writes of the many negatives articles on global volunteering. “If you believe what you read, voluntourism is a neocolonialist activity only slightly less horrifying than Ebola or Donald Trump.”

The five myths include that “Only volunteers benefit” and “Voluntourism hurts local economies.”

Ken’s award-winning memoir The Voluntourist tells the story of his personal journey and experiences as a volunteer in New Orleans, Costa Rica, China, Ecuador, Palestine, and Kenya. All of his earnings from the book are going back to the places and organizations where he volunteered.

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