I think that question is impossible to answer…. yet many people have asked me that or shared their answers with me. Once again, I think the question is coming at this from the wrong angle. WHO CARES how long the trip is, it is how the trip is designed that matters!
A two week teaching English trip is too short, in my opinion, if the volunteer is the students main teacher…. wouldn’t the ideal time be the whole year or semester? But if the volunteer is coming in with a lot of skills and does a two hour training course for teachers on how to teach phonics to early learners, who is to say that is too short? I think the voluntourism bubble is too big to try to put broad definitions around, but if we ask questions which are focused on community needs in each situation first, the “ideal” answers are very often different than the “ideal” answers from the tourist perspective. Meshing those too, finding what realities are really possible, and arranging the most ideal volunteer/program match are the tricky steps anyone walking in the volunteer placement space must navigate. I think we all know that it is not going to be “ideal” all the time – but we need to keep asking the questions to get closer as we learn what works and what doesn’t.
I added other thoughts about this here:
Would love to hear yours!