Volunteering obviously benefits those that receive it, but it also benefits the volunteer. Volunteering has been shown to lower stress levels, decrease the risk of depression, increase brain functioning, and increase self-confidence in those that do so regularly. However, the issue I take with it is the idea of not keeping up with volunteer work after the semester ends.
Voluntourism is when people travel and go volunteer during a trip. These trips can last days, weeks, or even months, and can involve things like helping build a school or teaching English to children. However, while the concept seems innocuous, it can be really harmful. In developing countries, resources are much more limited than in developed countries. We cannot build their hopes up and stay, only to leave, never to return and let the project(s) waste away. Not only is it unfair, it’s inhumane.
In my class, the choice comes down to fulfillment and a good grade. If you want the former, go volunteer. If you want the latter, go to the movies.
-- Ricardo Canelo