International Community Development and Voluntourism
With further development, the Dialogue Groups would
inspire more young people using an innovative approach
following the ‘dialogue’ model already developed and
successfully implemented by Queen Margaret University
through its AlcoLOLs project (involving 3000
pupils in Edinburgh). See the remarkable results in our
we've already achieved with our pilot in Malawi here...
We are currently developing an innovative alternative to 'voluntourism' trips (where people from the Global North travel on holiday to 'poor' countries to ‘help’). This is a growing and important sector for Malawi (and much of the Global South). But some young adults who have been voluntourists as teenagers are now blogging about their approach – reflecting that travelling with a ‘saviour complex’ meant that they missed important opportunities for really finding out about their counterparts and their lived experience. The approach can mean that they post selfies on social media, but don't communicate anything of substance about the culture and people, and so they reinforce unhelpful stereotypes about the 'helpless' poor .
The Scottish Government funded the early development of our antidote to white saviour type voluntourist trips. We are developing pay-to-participate 'Dialogue Groups', co-designed and run by empowered young care experienced Malawians for Global North teenagers who are in the country visiting on organised school trips. Instead of watching their Global North peers visit as voluntourists and distribute donations, the young Malawians can take charge of their visitors' experience by providing high quality 'Dialogue Groups' where they discuss topics they have identified as essential for their visitors get a real understanding of life in Malawi (not just by mixing with the tiny percentage lucky enough to be at school, but from the vast majority Malawians who are poverty experienced.) The groups help teenagers communicate together more easily about important issues such as their lived experience, resilience, family values, the importance of community and the reality of the UN’s Global Goals. The groups are designed to affect Global North teenagers’ attitudes to global citizenship and to effect a cultural shift in the way in which they see themselves in relation to people in the Global South.
And we've planned a further 'Selfless Selfie' project to
help teenagers to communicate more effectively about
the profound nature of their learning on social media. They will focus on young people’s views on the meaning in Malawi and the Global North of issues such as United Nations’ Global Goals 5 (Gender Equality) Goal 10(Reduced Inequalities ) Goal 8 (Decent Work, and Economic Growth) and Goal 13 (Climate Action).