On Thursday, August 30, Ryan Greer, the National Director of Sustainable Bolivia delivered a charla on voluntourism and responsible travel. Throughout the course of the evening, we debated thought provoking questions such as: What is at the heart of our desire to travel? What do we hope learn or accomplish? Can a short three months really make a difference and what happens to the projects we undertake when we are gone? Do our efforts truly make a difference in the community or are they self-serving projects that merely make us feel better about ourselves?
The reality is that NGOs play a large part in community development that many governments have often neglected or do not have the financial or human resources to address. Perhaps those of us who choose to donate our time and energy do so because of altruistic ideals aimed at better knowing and understanding our human network. Or maybe our professions or technical skills are in high demand and we truly can fill a void. Perhaps we are people merely driven by the possibility of making a difference and realize that until we put ourselves in the game, the opportunity to create positive change in the communities in which we find ourselves will continue to pass us by.