So, You’re Going to Save the World?

Saving the World

“So, you’re going to save the world?”

The sarcasm spilled out of X’s mouth shortly before I left on my RTW trip. Sure, he thought traveling was a great opportunity and something I should do while I’m still young, blah blah blah, but as I rattled off about volunteering, I was suddenly caught off guard with his question. I fumbled and said something like, “No. I know I can’t save the world, I just want to help a few people along the way.”

The question irked me, and I felt it was a bit demeaning… trivializing my volunteer efforts. But it certainly didn’t deter me. If anything, it made me question what and why I do it.

One of the nicest letters I’ve ever received included this line, “Laura I have been telling you that I would like to be a musician but my main aim is to be helping those people who are in needy [sic] like me…” Seeing the smiles on faces and the words and acts of appreciation like this make volunteering worthwhile to me. And if I can encourage people to pay it forward, well that’s even better!

As much as I’d like to forget X’s question in casual conversation, I can’t. His words stuck. I’ve thought about what I would say if I had the chance to answer his question again. And I think, I just might give a resounding, “Yes, damnit, I’m trying to save the world!”

If you’d like more information on international volunteering, I recently wrote this article: Volunteer Abroad for Free. If you think it has relevant information, please stumble, tweet, or email it to friends. I found it tough to find legitimate, affordable volunteer projects when I first started searching a few years ago, so I’m hoping this helps someone else!

12 thoughts on “So, You’re Going to Save the World?

  • I just read your post — and you did a nice job of addressing several questions and issues people have with these programs…at least some of the questions my students had! When I explained that they’d have to pay for housing and food if they traveled anywhere else and some organzations charge fees to cover food & accommodation but not a program placement fee, they started to get it.

    I also commented on the post…the “guest” had a legitimate question but I felt this need to defend you.

  • Attitudes like that really upset me because people just don’t believe that they (or one person for that matter) can make a difference, and that is not true. Don’t pay any attention to X ;)

  • Great post! I read your article and am definitely using some of your suggestions. I also had had trouble finding appropriate projects on my own. Thanks for being servicey.

  • I think even if you’re doing something, no matter how small it may be, to help change or improve the life of another person or the world, then there should be no “why”. A small change is what everyone needs and even that is enough to change the world! Rock on Laura!

  • The negativity of people like that is never going to achieve anything. Yes, you’re one person, but that’s all it takes to make a difference. And I think it’s very admirable for you to combine travelling the world with finding ways to help out wherever you are and however you can. Good on you!!

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