This podcast explains how "voluntourism," or traveling to far away countries to do unskilled volunteer work, may not be as beneficial, or even detrimental, to the environment and the communities that are supposed to benefit from the projects.
Students will hear from members of the Ugandan organization "No White Saviors" who explain what they believe are the issues with "voluntourism," focusing on the attitudes and lack of skills of many of the volunteers.
This podcast will prompt students to think critically about their actions, especially those that society generally accepts as altruistic.
Students should understand how aviation contributes to climate change and the carbon footprint of various individual actions.
It may be necessary to address how your school approaches volunteer or service work. Some schools organize "mission trips" for students to visit developing nations. Using this podcast in the classroom will push against the narrative that these trips are a good thing.
This podcast could be used in a social-emotional lesson on how intention does not always translate to impact.
In social studies classes, students could calculate how far they would have to travel to get to Uganda, how much carbon would be emitted by their travel, and if the money required for travel could directly support social or environmental projects in Uganda.
The podcast addresses the negative effects of voluntourism, including attitudes of superiority towards developing nations. It also highlights the lack of necessary skills for meaningful volunteer work in these countries and an increase in the carbon footprint due to air travel to developing nations. Instead of addressing the socio-economic and environmental problems in these developing nations, this scenario focuses on loss and destruction and would require collective climate education and urgent action. These testimonies are instructive and ideal for the classroom.
English Language Arts
Speaking & Listening (K-12)
11-12.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, perspective, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
HS.ESS3.4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.