At PEPY Tours, we transformed our organization from a “voluntourism” company, offering people the chance to “help” while they traveled, to a “learning service” company, where we invite people to come learn about the issues surrounding international development, and then they will be better equipped to do the “serving” later. The biggest lessons we came to understand in Cambodia is that you have to learn before you can help. Our goal is that people who travel with us will learn about development work, engage with the complexity of aid, and rather than feel that they have come and “helped”, we want them to get angry, get interested, LEARN, and then they can help the other 355 days of the year, or the rest of their lives.
On the other hand, we realize that volunteer travel is continuing to grow in popularity, and just because we have moved away from it, does not mean the rest of the world has. As such, we wanted to share tips that could help those people who are looking to volunteer to benefit from the “learning first” concept, and to give those who are already out volunteering abroad the tools they might need to improve the impact of their experience, on their own lives, and on those they interact with on their travels.
PEPY has recently release “Learning Service: Tips for Learning Before Helping”, a toolkit for the traveler interested in traveling to learn or to serve, and “Learning Service: Volunteer’s Charter”, for those who are already on a volunteer placement. Check them out below, give us tips on how to improve them, share them with people you think could use them, and let us know your thoughts!