Here at Everyday Ambassador we aim to raise the bar on global service efforts, especially in the popular field of volunteering abroad. Every week we showcase the voices of individuals who design, or have engaged in, service opportunities overseas that are actively improving the status quo: valuing relationship development and consider long-term impact.
But the reality remains that a majority of volunteer programs disappoint their volunteers and the communities they aim to serve. As Daniela Papi, founder of PEPY Tours explains in her recent TEDx talk, it may be because “we plant papayas, and expect to get mangoes.“
Today we highlight Daniela’s talk because it explores the environment necessary for sustainable social change in our volunteer efforts: one of perpetual education and learning. She explains that too often in today’s volunteer industry we bring lessons for a community, rather than learn lessons from a community, and our actions end up becoming short-term solutions for complex problems.
Through her time abroad Daniela saw the consequences of giving things away and acting on raw ambition without community knowledge – sometimes positive intentions caused more harm than good. As she says, it’s time to take service learning and flip it around. If we take a “learning service” approach instead, we create a space where we can “learn how to serve in the future”. We may not solve a problem immediately, but we become invested in the more important, long-run commitments that will see through the ultimate change we desire.
EA acknowledges the wide array of responsibilities that come with global citizenship. As Daniela suggests, entering any service opportunity with a student mentality allows us to be ambassadors of positive and empathetic values, learning how to fulfill those responsibilities most effectively. We learn to be humble and vulnerable. And we learn this before, after, and as we serve.
Thankfully, there are already organizations – like PEPY Tours – who share EA values and put them into action everyday; the kind of people who plant mangoes to get mangoes, and end up with pretty sweet results. You can count on EA to continue highlight these organizations. Even more, over the next two months, we will also begin to announce partner organizations who will provide you with consistent stories from their fieldwork about our positive values being put into action everyday.
As always, if you are part of an organization, or know of one, that aligns with our mission, please be in touch so we can share your good work on this platform!