Volunteer programs should benefit needy, not travel agencies

Updated 2017-08-24 12:31:02 China Daily
File photo shows students taking a summer camp in the U.S.

File photo shows students taking a summer camp in the U.S.

Many international volunteer programs have been welcoming Chinese students to apply for enrollment this summer. However, China Youth Daily has found that some volunteer programs are just overseas trips. They charge the applicants tens of thousands of yuan per week, and organize travel without the participants actually helping those in need. Thepaper.cn comments:

To be a volunteer, one must have something more than enthusiasm. Many volunteers who serve in foreign countries, provide humanitarian assistance or cooperate with their foreign partners to solve technological problems. They provide their professional skills and enrich their knowledge via the experience.

Therefore, professional international volunteer organizations generally have very strict review procedures before deciding whether to accept a student applicant. They often require applicants to be able to speak English and to at least have majors in the professions they require the skills and services of. And most of them do not charge students fees because they do not make a profit.

The "volunteer agencies" mentioned in the China Youth Daily report are more like travel agencies that make money by arranging people to travel overseas. Those who go overseas do not go through a rigorous selection process and they can hardly render any needed service.

Yet the business is booming, because it benefits both sides. The agencies make money by charging the students, while the students polish their resumes by adding volunteer experience. It is Chinese volunteers as a whole that suffer, because the recipient countries won't trust Chinese volunteers any more.

We do not mean to say college students should be prevented from joining global volunteer programs, but these bogus volunteer programs are too rampant and it is time to eliminate them.

That in turn requires the authorities to strengthen their supervision of the industry. Proper standards must be drafted, so that the travel agencies hidden under the cover of volunteer programs will be exposed and no longer be able to cheat.

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