When I first saw “Changing the World on Vacation“, I had to cover my eyes for half of the film. Did I REALLY say that, do that, THINK that? Ugh….
Watching the first year of our work at PEPY is like watching someone act out the exact opposite of what I now believe in terms of responsible tourism, development work, and “volunteering”. It’s PAINFUL to watch…
But, it’s a good reminder that my opinions and beliefs were formed, and that I too acted in the ways I am trying to see changed. It makes me hopeful that others can change too, and that ideally they can learn from my mistakes rather than repeating them themselves.
I just recently got to see some footage Daniela Kon, the film maker, had taken in late 2008 or early 2009 when she returned to Cambodia. It is great to see the progress of my own learning, and interesting to note that it took me three years to realize that “orphanage tourism was wrong” but I still hadn’t realized that some orphanages are not only exploiting children through forced dance shows, but through so much more including taking them from parents and corruption so deep that it involves bribing police to be allowed to drag “orphans” through the streets to advertise “free orphanage tours” to tourists. (I had written some of my reactions here.)
I went from naive to enraged with a rest stop at shocked along the way. Here is a look at my reaction to the film from nearly three years ago: