International volunteering

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**History of International Volunteering:**
– Workcamps post World War I and Service Civil International as early expressions of international service.
– Formal overseas volunteering dating back over 100 years to the British Red Cross in 1909.
– Establishment of international volunteering organizations like Australian Volunteers International in the 1950s.
– U.S. Peace Corps founded in 1961 during the Kennedy administration.

**Volunteer Demographics and Motivations:**
– Approximately one million people from the US volunteer abroad annually.
– Majority of volunteers are in their twenties and thirties.
– Average age of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) volunteers is 38.
– Motivations include cultural experiences, career advancement, international awareness, and altruism.

**Challenges and Critiques of International Volunteering:**
– Difficulty in measuring outcomes and success of volunteers.
– Concerns about compromising dignity of local populations and neo-colonialism.
– High costs associated with international volunteering.
– Challenges with low skills, poor understanding of local context, and undermining local organizations.

**Voluntourism Industry Criticisms and Negative Impacts:**
– Short-term volunteers often lack training and can fuel conflicts.
– Negative impacts on host communities, such as dependency and reinforcing paternalistic narratives.
– Critiques of volunteer-sending organizations and concerns about sustainable impact and ethical considerations.

**Ethical Considerations and Impact of International Volunteering:**
– Postcolonial readings of identity in development aid and effects on individual and institutional predictors.
– Ethical considerations like child protection and responsible volunteering practices.
– Impact of international volunteering on personal growth, cross-cultural understanding, and development goals.
– Importance of critically examining the motivations, consequences, and shifting towards sustainable and ethical volunteer practices.

International volunteering is when volunteers contribute their time to work for organisations or causes outside their home countries. International volunteering has a long association with international development or environment, with the aim of bringing benefits to host communities.

Trends show that international volunteering has become increasingly popular across many countries over the past few decades. International volunteering is a broad term which is used to capture multi-year, skilled placements as well as short term roles. The term voluntourism has become common to describe certain types of volunteering organised by governments, charities and travel agents.

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