I called this blog ’Lessons I Learned’, but really it would be better titled ’Lessons I’m Learning’. I believe in sharing what we learn to help others avoid our same mistakes and also exposing ourselves to the criticism and questions which might help us improve. I am skeptical of the popular approaches to both voluntourism and development work, though those are both areas in which I have worked as I’d love to be part of learning how we can do them both better. I think we need to learn before we can help, so I believe “service learning” should be “learning service”. I feel like I am learning more every day about how to help create the world I want to see my future kids and their future kids living in, and sometimes what I learn contradicts what I thought I knew was true. I have learned that good intentions are not enough and that the only person you can “improve” in the world is yourself, so I had better start improving the world by starting there. I hope the dialogue generated through this site will give me more chances to do that and to share the lessons I am learning with others who could benefit from avoiding my mistakes.

17 July 2014 ~ 1 Comment

How to Make Hard Choices (and why a universal NGO ranking system is impossible)

I’m sure most of you have viewed your fair share of TED talks. This one is about “How to Make Hard Choices” – and it is certainly worth a view as we all make “hard choices” every day and this perspective might make those choices feel a lot more empowering.

While watching it, I realized that her argument about hard choices relates to why NGO ranking systems are impossible. When we are trying to decide which job to take, which house to buy, or which person to marry, we all want to know which choice is “better” than the other – and many people ask similar questions about the non-profits they should give their money to or places they should volunteer. Continue Reading

15 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Lost in Translation

I was lucky to be able to write a piece for this Summer 2014 SSIR journal with a former co-worker at PEPY/PEPY Tours, Karina Kloos.  Karina and I had worked together in 2009 to make Voluntourism101, and have collaborated since on projects and brainstorms around how to further the “social” in the social sector. Karina did her PhD at Stanford, and while there she did extensive research on monitoring and evaluation practices of non-profit organizations. We teamed up on this piece nearly a year ago, working to draw out lessons for how non-profits might reclaim the evaluation conversation.

Check it out and let us know your thoughts! http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/lost_in_translation

15 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Learning Service in SSIR

I realize I might not have linked this on LIL…. here is a piece Claire Bennett and I wrote for SSIR (Stanford Social Innovation Review) on Learning Service a few months ago:

We often use “service learning” to describe volunteer programs and international volunteer travel, emphasizing learning through service—service that teaches life lessons that help both the traveler and the world. The profound lessons that international volunteering can bring is one of the main reasons that academic institutions are incorporating it—and sometimes requiring it—in coursework.

Read the rest here: http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/from_service_learning_to_learning_service

15 May 2014 ~ 0 Comments

“Leading from behind” – from tourism to start-ups

Here is a piece I wrote for the Pioneers Post about “leading from behind” – a concept I learned from the founder of Where There Be Dragons.

Read the piece here if you like!

http://www.pioneerspost.com/comment/20140512/why-the-greatest-leaders-dont-always-go-the-right-way

24 April 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Is “Voluntourism” Itself Being Exploited?

Here is a piece I wrote this week on the Huffington Post about how our focus on “voluntourism” as the culprit could be doing us a disservice: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniela-papi/is-voluntourism-itself-be_b_5197390.html

26 March 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Personal development and global development are entirely interlinked

I was part of a radio piece for ABC radio in Australia. Of course, as usual, they gave it a very “catchy” title – ”

Is ‘voluntourism’ the new colonialism?

I would have rather had something more along the lines of “how do we make volunteer service more humble” or something…. but such is life.  If you want to read the article they made for it or hear the piece, here you go!

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/encounter/5341384

18 March 2014 ~ 0 Comments

What your grandmother got wrong

A random little post I wrote on Huffington Post…. in case you are interested!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniela-papi/what-your-grandmother-got_b_4985053.html