04 January 2011

Still Not About Us

A great post by Crystal Hayling (do read the whole thing) for The Center for Effective Philanthopy titled Whose Volunteer Experience Is This Anyway? I have said before that it is not about us and this post does a great job of addressing the same idea.

But, she then went on to explain, the trip had all but been ruined by the fact that when they arrived the locals took the books and materials they’d brought and proceeded to build the structures themselves. Her kids, who had planned what they wanted to do and how they would direct the building process, were sidelined by locals who took over and did all the work themselves. Her kids were invited to participate, but they weren’t allowed to lead “their” projects. The goal of the trip, she complained, had been for her kids to feel how they could make a difference and this experience hadn’t provided that at all. “Overall, it left a bad taste in their mouths for future volunteer work,” she concluded.

It was then that I yelled, “It’s not about you!”

In my head.

Aloud, I asked her politely, “Whose volunteer experience is this anyway?”

HT Alanna and Shotgunshack