The Humanitarian Douchery That is Voluntourism

“Voluntourism” is the growing trend of rich people using their vacations to go to poor places where they think they can help. A good chunk of the time these voluntourists are actually causing harm. This may seem counterintuitive but we’ve seen this before in the past with programs of the ‘adopt a child’ sort (you know, a nickel a day will save one kid).

The campaign to End Humanitarian Douchery wants to change that. If you’re not careful you’ll be engaging in modern neocolonial offensiveness.

Guan and MacNeill have even compiled a list of “The Seven Sins of Humanitarian Douchery” to help people recognize douchebags in action. Signs include:

  • Research slothery: A lack of research could lead to supporting unethical organizations or performing work a host community doesn’t even need.
  • Lusting for likes: When people flaunt their experiences on social media as “heroes” who are “saving” the third world.
  • Fishing for envy: When volunteers go on trips to make themselves look good and others jealous.

“You can tell that this is a trend that’s growing,” Guan says. “I’ve seen so many of my peers jet off to developing countries and try to save the world ā€” and it’s great ā€” but the thing is, even when you go in with best intentions, you can do more harm than good.”

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