Is there anything unusual or unexpected in the clips you have just watched?

In the field of international volunteering, usually the mainstream attention is focused on the volunteers living in the Global North who are interested in joining a project in the Global South. Usually, the motivation for their choice includes the desire to help a specific target group or the local community, explore a new region and increase their intercultural experience. 

However, cross-cultural volunteering involves other profiles, motivation and expectations, as shown in the clips: for example, volunteers from the Global South who wish to engage themselves in projects in the Global South (the so-called “South ↔ South exchange”). Moreover, their motivation can be diverse: for instance, a volunteer from Africa with an academic background in archeology can decide to join a project in Europe because she wants to use her skills to promote a UNESCO world-heritage site there. 

You can ask yourself:

  • why a pre-departure training for volunteers should always be targeted to volunteers from the Global North heading to projects in the Global South?
  • Why do we expect that  volunteers from the Global North want to join a project in the Global South only to “help people” and to share their “superior knowledge” on specific topics?
  • why does “South ↔ South exchange” sound so unusual?
  • Why does it sound strange that a volunteer from the Global South wishes to support a project in the Global North with her skills, knowledge and expertise?

In the next sections and modules we will explore further these topics. Our intention is to propose a new concept of volunteer exchange, more respectful and up-to-date with the needs, expectations and motivation of people living in all regions of the world.