Here Versus There: Reflections from a “Voluntourist”

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(Published in the San Francisco Chronicle) By Brenna Alexander Despite the altruistic lure of international volunteering, those seeking meaningful work should look no further than their own backyard. Last summer, I taught and played and laughed with children cooped up in a Cambodian orphanage. I had gone to Cambodia to work for another nonprofit organization. …
While there is much to learn abroad, volunteering at home is different and usually far more beneficial. If you volunteer at home, you are constantly reminded of the persistence of human suffering and the incredible difficulty of generating economic and societal change. When you volunteer at home, you encounter the injustice that resides within your own community – injustices that may collapse long-held notions and the allure of simple solutions.

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