Transition Abroad Magazine September/October 2001
From the Publisher
In this International Year of the Volunteer "the global volunteering movement is expanding our understanding of other cultures and helping create greater solidarity among the peoples of the world," writes Christine Victorino in her introduction to our annual list of volunteer programs abroad.
As I write this note near the scene of the killing last night (July 20) of a young protester at the G-8 meeting of leading industrial countries in Genoa, Italy, global understanding and solidarity seem to be in short supply. President Bush kicked off the meeting by announcing that his go-it-alone views were unchanged. The answer to world poverty, he said, was not more aid but free trade. (Today's Washington Post reports that our country's aid budget stands at 0.1 percent of GDP, the lowest share of any country in the 22-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Bush administration has recommended a further cut.)
Global volunteering, the major topic of this issue, may do little to reduce the plight of the poor. Half of the human race lives on less than $2 a day, and it will take much more than well-meaning volunteers to affect that. However, global volunteering will expand out individual understanding of other cultures. This, I'm sure, in the long run will make a difference and lead to a change in our collective attitude—and behavior—towards the rest of the world.
Mishelle Shepard ("Modern-Day Pilgrims") provides perhaps the most eloquent summation of the benefits of volunteering.
"The end result of our journeys will not be in the individual's story but our combined experience—the shared realm of self-awareness and social consciousness which continues to grow, one pilgrimage at a time."
—Dr. Clay A. Hubbs
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