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Special Challenges in International vs. Domestic Volunteering

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The Australian Journal of Volunteering published a speech by Stephen Parsons of Australian Volunteers International entitled "International Volunteering: Challenges in the 21st Century." With Parsons' permission, e-Volunteerism has used our Keyboard Roundtable format to give practitioners from international volunteering programmes an opportunity to discuss in more detail some of the issues his speech raised. In the online discussion that took place over a two week period at the end of May 2002, participants discussed:

  1. What, if any, are the differences between international and domestic volunteering?
  2. What makes someone want to go overseas to help when every one of these countries clearly has problems of disease, poverty, etc. at home, too?
  3. What are the implications of people doing international online volunteering from the comfort of their own home?
  4. What is the future role for international volunteering? How will it need to adapt to the increasing pace of change across the world?

First, however, Bill Armstrong (a colleague of Stephen Parson's in Australia) sent an original introductory e-mail with a concise and thought-provoking take on the subject of international volunteering that serves the purpose here of setting the scene for the following discussion.