BCM 332

Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes

I have a friend who has travelled the globe. She has got down and dirty in small villages in Nepal, she has danced the night away in Paris and has helped to develop schools for orphan children in Cambodia so they can end their poverty cycle.

What a legend! Right? Well, maybe not. She may have been doing more harm than good.

The rise in voluntourism has lead to individuals – such as Daniela Papi, founder of PEPY and advocate for clever travel – to question whether we are perpetuating a vicious cycle or doing real, honest work.

Voluntoursim is a term that refers to the use of “discretionary time and income to travel out of the sphere of regular activity to assist others in need” (Bailey & Fernando 2011, p.407).

According to Bailey & Fernando 2011,

“these trips satisfy one’s longing for adventure while providing valuable services to the communities they visited.”

I applaud these kinds of people for their selfless nature and wanting to go and lend a hand to less fortunate communities.

But, the issue I have – and agree with Daniela Papi in this – is that there is the “white hero-fixation” about going overseas and helping those less fortunate than I, “we have a tendency to swoop in when times are tough, patch it up and fly out again”.

I interviewed Daniela Papi in 2013 and she stated that we need to change the way we see voluntourism, “wealthy travellers to think they have a “right” to help people just because they are wealthier. Instead, they have to earn that right, and learn how they might be able to help, by being the students of the communities they visit, rather than the teachers.”

Papi established PEPY – Promoting Education, emPowering Youth – in Cambodia after her time volunteering there. The organisation aims to promote youth to venture overseas and volunteer however, they must fully understand the communities they are helping. Moreover, there needs to be an initiative for skilled workers to go overseas to these communities in need and educate the locals on how to build buildings or teachers going over to train local people to be teachers.

I say this in the hope that by doing this, we can perhaps create a community that does not need to rely on the aid of foreigners but are somewhat self-sufficient.


Bailey, Andrew W., Fernando, I.K., 2011, ‘Decoding the Voluntourism Process: A Case Study of Pay It Forward Tour’, Journal of Experiential Education, vol. 33 issue 4, pp. 406 – 410

JOUR 101, Media

Are gap years the new way to better grades?

Gap years have become a popular phenomenon with a 15% increase in 10 years

Gap years have become a popular phenomenon with a 15% increase in 10 years

As this year’s HSC draws to a close, 25% of the graduating students will go on gap years. According to new studies, students who have a gap year will do better than their counterparts who came straight from high school.

Against the conventional theories of students losing the momentum of learning, Professor Andrew Martin from the University of Sydney believes that gap years are “part of the momentum”. He states that this gap between high school and university allows for clarity in “students’ plans for what they study and where” as well as giving them an ‘edge’ over other students who may be lacking in the autonomous skills needed to meet the broader demands of tertiary education.

Professor Martin is co-author of a paper in the Journal of Higher Education which follows the progress of 904 undergraduate students at the University of Sydney. He explores how students meet the demands of university life. Through this, he has concluded that those who embarked on gap years, were more successful as their experiences enabled them to cope with the high expectations,”develop and maintain self-direction and independent thinking skills” Professor Martin explained.

“I want to experience the world before I get too old” says 17-year-old student Ellie who has finished her HSC studies and will depart for London mid-November for six months travelling around Europe. Her sister Claire set out for a gap year in 2010 but instead stayed for 2 years, “I just loved being immersed in a different culture and that it only took a train trip to be in an entirely different country”. Claire originally wanted to study exercise science but quickly changed after returning to Australia, “I wanted to do a job that would take me all over the world and actually be paid for it!”

Whilst gap years are not for everyone as they can be financially tolling, they are advised by many – such as Claire – who have embarked on one as they allow for students to “be naive, adventurous but independent without the pressures of studying or other grown-up responsibilities.”