On the sticky ethics of voluntourism

THE DEBATE ABOUT THE APPROPRIATENESS of voluntourism — how best to do it, where to do it, or whether it’s ethical to attempt at all — has been a very sensitive subject both with readers here at Matador and across the internet more broadly, judging from the literally millions of views and thousands of comments directed at Pippa Biddle’s recent piece on little white girls and boys volunteering in the developing world (which Matador republished earlier this week). 

I caught up with Pippa to ask her more about the impact her story has had, and her thoughts on the ethics of the market for voluntourism. 

* * *

RS: What has the feedback to your piece been from people who go on, or provide, voluntourism opportunities? Has it been self-reflective at all? 

PB: The feedback on my post has been varied. I knew the topic, and the way that I addressed it, would be controversial. What I didn’t expect was how far the piece would spread. Moderating the 600  comments on the post on my blog alone (not including comments on Medium, Thought Catalog, Huff Po Impact, etc.) was a learning experience. 

I started off by reading each one but, very quickly, realized it would be better for my mental health and work schedule to just approve them. I believe in freedom of speech, so the only comments I have not approved were spam. This means that there can sometimes seem to be a lot of hate on my blog — I like to think of it as lively conversation. 

Read the full interview here.

On the sticky ethics of voluntourism

THE DEBATE ABOUT THE APPROPRIATENESS of voluntourism — how best to do it, where to do it, or whether it’s ethical to attempt at all — has been a very sensitive subject both with readers here at Matador and across the internet more broadly, judging from the literally millions of views and thousands of comments directed at Pippa Biddle’s recent piece on little white girls and boys volunteering in the developing world (which Matador republished earlier this week).

I caught up with Pippa to ask her more about the impact her story has had, and her thoughts on the ethics of the market for voluntourism.

* * *

RS: What has the feedback to your piece been from people who go on, or provide, voluntourism opportunities? Has it been self-reflective at all?

PB: The feedback on my post has been varied. I knew the topic, and the way that I addressed it, would be controversial. What I didn’t expect was how far the piece would spread. Moderating the 600 comments on the post on my blog alone (not including comments on Medium, Thought Catalog, Huff Po Impact, etc.) was a learning experience.

I started off by reading each one but, very quickly, realized it would be better for my mental health and work schedule to just approve them. I believe in freedom of speech, so the only comments I have not approved were spam. This means that there can sometimes seem to be a lot of hate on my blog — I like to think of it as lively conversation.

Read the full interview here.