One sure-fire way to prepare for the new Age of Man is to roll up your sleeves and jump on the “voluntourism” bandwagon, combining service work with your travels. You have to be careful and qualified; you don’t want to be more hindrance than help, nor do you want to demean anyone or create dependency.
One past participant in a Yucatán voluntourism project explained it this way: “The concept is that volunteers often come thinking that they will ‘help the poor Maya’ and leave realizing that the opposite was true: The cultural exchange taught them about life, family, and community.”
What do you have to offer? What do you want to learn?
Voluntourism guru Nola Lee Kelsey’s collection of alternative travel opportunities, 700 Places to Volunteer Before You Die: A Traveler’s Guide is an excellent place to begin, listing numerous organizations in the Mundo Maya countries and beyond (it also includes tips from yours truly and others on how to select a program). Sign up to the author’s “V-List” to stay updated.
Another important tool are the country search boxes at either www.gooverseas.com/volunteer-abroad or www.volunteerabroad.com, which maintain long, updated lists of alternative travel and service opportunities.
The tour schedule at Sustainable Harvest International’s Build a Smaller World program (tel. 408/384-8376, www.sustainableharvest.org/travel) offers community-based, service-learning experiences in various Mundo Maya countries. In southern Belize, they help travelers (individuals, groups, and families) who are staying at Cotton Tree Lodge book volunteer projects in the area.
“To heal the world” is the mission of American Jewish World Service (www.ajws.org), one international development organization that supports many community projects across the Mundo Maya with small grants. They also offer volunteer opportunities in the spring and summer throughout the region for qualified applicants of various
© Josh Berman from Moon Maya 2012