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How Are Millennials Redefining the Voluntourism Industry?

Updated: Nov 30, 2018

Toronto, Ontario – This summer, 116 Canadian youth are set to embark on 31 global expeditions for various human rights and environmental causes. Facilitated by the non-profit organization, Operation Groundswell (OG), these young Canadians are redefining what it means to volunteer and travel abroad.

“Voluntourism is the fastest growing trend in global tourism and has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it’s fraught with serious ethical issues,” says Eyal Rosenblum, Executive Director of OG. “For twelve years, our global network of travellers has been leading the movement towards ethical international volunteering and engagement.”

This summer, OG is offering 31 immersive programs for a deep cultural exchange – covering a host of social justice and environmental issues, including animal conservation in Rwanda and Belize, women’s rights in India, food justice in Thailand and Ecuador, indigenous and LGBTQ rights in Peru and Guatemala.

“Our goal is to build a global community of ethical travellers who are environmentally, socially, and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in,” says Claire Ferguson, Programs Director of OG. “We’ve since grown to run a total of 246 programs to 21 countries around the world.”

Unlike many other voluntourism agencies, OG always works in partnership with existing local non-profits and charities on community-requested projects. With ethical travel and solidarity at the crux of its philosophy, OG’s approach towards international volunteering and social change can be broken down by three essential elements:

1) knowledge before action,

2) service through solidarity, and

3) empathetic leadership.

Through planned daily excursions and educational programming, OG helps connect young people with grassroots organizations to go beyond the trip and participate in the day-to-day life of local communities.

About Operation Groundswell Operation Groundswell is a registered Canadian non-profit organization that facilitates travel, community service, and educational experiences around the world on a host of social justice issues. Geared towards socially conscious and globally active youth between the ages of 18-30 from North America, OG’s mission is to use the power of travel to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.



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