Students who travel to developing countries risk doing more harm than good, argued Judith Brodie, UK director of VSO, criticising the emphasis on volunteer enjoyment rather than on how to help the communities they work in.
It is not feckless hedonism or misplaced idealism that VSO is criticising, but the booming industry in pre-packaged volunteering programmes. These are often run for a profit (although badly organised non-profit-making schemes may be just as harmful). "This is a growth industry and very competitive so the objectives may not be to deliver the maximum benefits to the communities these young people are working in," says Brodie.
Question: How far is the voluntary high school/college grad service industry going to get if the service organizations tell the grunts they should have less fun?