Can you imagine how

Here are three examples of situations that might occur in the design and in the coordination of intercultural voluntary projects:


During a workcamp, when creating the shifts and the teams (for work, cleaning, etc), a coordinator distributes the workload unevenly, appointing less tasks to volunteers with a disadvantaged background (fewer skills, poor English, low level of self-confidence, slower pace) in order to achieve results faster and more efficiently.

PREJUDICE: people from a disadvantaged background do not work efficiently and can be a burden for the group.

DISCRIMINATION: people from a disadvantaged background are not given enough opportunities to learn and to improve their skills. This can trigger a vicious circle which reinforces the prejudice of them being inefficient. 


A toolkit dealing with pre-departure of volunteers addresses only the needs of volunteers from the Global North who want to join projects in the Global South. 

PREJUDICES: Volunteers from the Global North are exposed to cultural shock when taking part in projects in the Global South, due to the cultural and economic differences; volunteers from the Global South going to the Global North do not need  any support, thanks to the advanced level of development of Western countries. 

DISCRIMINATION: volunteers from the Global South are excluded from mentoring and support and their needs are not acknowledged.


A project manager has to select the team members for a seminar on human rights, and decides to hire only European trainers. A young Tunisian female candidate, although competent, is not selected, as the picture in her CV shows her wearing a veil. 

PREJUDICE: European trainers are more likely to be free from “cultural and religious conditioning” and this allows them to address human rights issues more effectively.

DISCRIMINATION: Non-European candidates are excluded from job and learning opportunities because of cultural prejudices.

The examples above show that prejudices and stereotypes are everywhere and might  pose a risk also in international volunteering. Being aware of their existence and understanding how to overcome them are the first steps to avoid this risk.