We use the following terms throughout the site to describe different components of the volunteer experience:
For our purposes, short-term volunteering is defined as any period from one week to one year. While recognising that there can be big differences between the experiences of people who volunteer for a few weeks and people who do so for almost twelve months, there can be enough similarities between their experiences to warrant their being considered under the same heading.
These are agencies, organisations or commercial companies that arrange volunteer placements in developing countries. All have offices outside the destination country and recruit volunteers through these.
is a more general term used to describe both sending organisations and organisations that are based in destination countries and that directly accept foreign volunteers for placements, without having offices outside the country in which they work.
Host projects or groups
are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or community groups in the destination country that receive volunteers.
What to call ‘them’?
We have lots of different names to call those countries that are not as wealthy as ours, and all of them are problematic! Here’s a brief description of some of these terms:
- Third World: this term came about as a result of the Cold War. The First World was considered the richest part of the globe; the Second, the old Socialist bloc, which was seen as having medium income; and the Third World, which was seen as the poorest. This term, however, implies that the First World is inherently superior to the Second and Third Worlds. In addition, since 1989, the Second World of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc no longer exists.
- Underdeveloped and Less Developed countries implies that development simply refers to economics. It does not take into account the highly developed social, cultural and environmental attitudes and living arrangements in many communities overseas. It also implies that many developed countries no longer need to develop, despite the fact that large segments of the populations in those countries experience poverty, hunger and homelessness.
- Poor countries ignores the fact that many of these countries are rich in resources and that many people within them have relatively high living standards, just as many people in rich countries are in fact poor.
- Global South or South are not generally recognised as terms. Furthermore, there are a number of high-income nations located in the South, such as Australia and New Zealand.
In this site, we have frequently used the term developing countries, as it is the most generally accepted term, despite reservations, and because we wish the reader to focus on issues of development when considering volunteering overseas. Some of the other terms are also used at times, in order to provide a fuller perspective.
Adapted from Collins, J., DeZerega, S., and Zahara Heckscher (2002) How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas; London: Penguin p.27.