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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this slim guidebook, author O’Donnell covers how to find legitimate, socially responsible volunteer opportunities as well as what to expect as an international volunteer. In an informal and engaging style, the author encourages readers to think about why they want to be an international volunteer, explores the challenges of choosing a volunteer experience, and details living in a foreign country. There are personal stories, practical tips, and an appendix of resources. A great beginning guide for those just starting to think about volunteering internationally, this would be a useful addition to most library travel or volunteerism collections. --Rebecca Vnuk

Review

"Packed with advice and real-world volunteering experiences you simply won't find elsewhere ... a lively and top recommendation sure to appeal." 
   - Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review 

"In an informal and engaging style, the author encourages readers to think about why they want to be an international volunteer, explores the challenges of choosing a volunteer experience, and details living in a foreign country. A great beginning guide for those just starting to think about volunteering internationally ..."
   - Rebecca Vnuk, Booklist Magazine


"Shannon does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for those who are interested in volunteering overseas. I'll be recommending this book to all my readers who are looking to volunteer overseas"
   - Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere

"I wish I'd had this handbook when I volunteered! Shannon asks all the right questions and offers practical advice from her own globetrotting experiences."
  - Ken Budd, Author of the memoir "The Voluntourist"


"This book ... is full of practical tips and personal stories that can help a traveler prepare for a successful volunteer experience that will be ethical and rewarding." 
   - Marilyn Terrell, Chief Researcher at National Geographic Traveler 
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Product Details

  • Series: Traveler's Handbooks
  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: Full Flight Press (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0987706144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0987706140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shannon O'Donnell left in 2008 on a year-long round the world trip. That initial trip turned into an open-ended journey around the world and over the years she has shared her travel stories and photography on her travel blog, A Little Adrift. In 2011 her travel focus shifted, in addition to launching her passion project, a community sourced database of local, sustainable organizations all over the world, Shannon began homeschooling, traveling, and volunteering with her 12-year-old niece.

http://alittleadrift.com

http://grassrootsvolunteering.org

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
Again, I thoroughly enjoyed this book: easy to read, well-organized and expertly written.
Catherine B
O'Donnell does a good job of laying out a framework by which one can act responsibly, while leaving room for the reader to develop their own philosophy.
Lingering Words
The book also contains a comprehensive list of websites for volunteer organizations and other useful resources for volunteers.
D. Heinrich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Sowden on October 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
You've probably read a little elsewhere about the ethical quandry that is voluntourism, and wondered if modern volunteering is really all it's cracked up to be. This is a book that wastes little time before tackling that head-on, with intelligence and wit. Shannon O'Donnell is a passionate advocate of the principles that should be guiding the volunteer industry, and she isn't shy about pointing to examples of those principles being circumvented or ignored, but this isn't a piece of deconstruction - as befits the the subject matter, O'Donnell is clearly interested in creating something practical that can be built on, and that hard-headed optimism really shines through.

In the book's four main sections she:

- examines the philosophy and practical reality underpinning volunteering in all its modern forms
- outlines a methodology for getting involved
- summarizes her wide experience in a set of 'best practice' suggestions, and
- takes a practical look at the reality of traveling and working as a volunteer.

Beyond the author's plentiful case studies (many of which are drawn from her own experiences) there are plenty of references to chase beyond the confines of the book. The book is a useful jumping-off point for further reading, and a good kick in the pants for anyone with an emotional investment in volunteering - but it's also a great read from a gifted storyteller, who knows how important stories are for a subject like this.

A terrific introduction, handled with intelligence and sensitivity. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on October 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Shannon's blog, so when she announced her book about volunteer travel, I was, of course, eager to hear what she had to say, already knowing a fair bit about her experiences in Asia and elsewhere. Flipping though the pages of tips and recommendations, it is clear that Shannon is not just sharing generic suggestions, but in fact is giving you concrete advice about preparing, planning, and enjoying a volunteering excursion based on her own travels - she's got the photos in there to prove it!

I like that Shannon handles media stereotyping head on and also spends a significant part of the book on helping you prepare and plan. Most guides focus way to much on the where, instead of the why and the how - which is, in my experiences, is where many travelers have the most problems, but Shannon will keep you safe and sane.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Zito on October 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is full of practical guidance and how-to's for an aspiring first time international volunteer, but it doesn't stop there. The author presents solid questions about the impact that volunteering and voluntourism has on communities- both good and bad, and leads the reader through a thorough thought process to consider how to wisely research and choose a volunteer program that is right for them AND will truly benefit the community it intends to serve- longterm. A great guide if you're considering a volunteer vacation or a first time long term volunteer opportunity abroad.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By suniru on January 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book offers a comprehensive look at what you need to do and prepare for if you are considering volunteering abroad. Aside from pointing out issues that one may not have considered, I liked that the author also included the obvious (at least to me!)....because this is often what one overlooks. The personal anecdotes are short and compliment the focus of the text...a nice balanced combination. Plenty of outside links are included for further reading. It's clear one must do one's due diligence before, during (and even after!) committing to volunteering abroad and this is a valuable guideline.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Kindle Book Review on November 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
If you're interested in reading this book, chances are you are already interested in travel and volunteerism ("voluntourism"). If so, I highly recommend this book. It covers the total voluntourism experience, and whether or not you're up for the challenges and remarkable joys.

The book is in the chronological order that a trip would take. It starts with the basics: where would I like to go; what do I have to offer. Then the author moves into researching possible methods. There's a list of do's and don't's for volunteering in a foreign country. The most striking on that list were 1) Partner with the natives -- don't dictate. Don't expect miracles or excess praise. 2) Beware of getting too friendly with orphaned children. They get their hopes up about going home with you! Both of these cautions, though obvious, had never occurred to me before (I've never voluntoured, so the world has been safe from my efforts!).

The author covers the advantages and disadvantages of planning your own trip versus going with a ready-made organization. She tells you what to pack, what to prepare for, and ultimately, how to handle the unexpected. She even covers vaccinations, medicines, and (women) what to do with menstrual blood. At one point, the author covers a trip she took with her 11-year-old niece, displaying her confidence in this mode of travel.

An issue that could easily have been overlooked is the emotional crash-landing of returning home. Home probably hasn't changed, but the people have been moving on without you. There can be real issues of the new you adapting to your old life. The author details how you can minimize that let-down, and turn your experience into a sharing/learning experience for family and friends.
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