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Processing Experiences

Expectations you may have had in superabundance; but when the reality of a voluntour strikes, you must have "tools" at your disposal to address the instantaneous, and often disarming, effects - "and that right soon!"

Photo Courtesy Of Conscious Journeys All Rights Reserved  
Traveler - Processing Experiences
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Getting Started
Trip Selection
Trip Preparation
Processing Experiences
Post-Trip
Future Preparation


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Introduction

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the server brought you your bread, appetizer, salad, and main course at the same time? And then handed you the dessert menu as they were leaving the table?

Well, you have to get around a little bit if you haven't had such a dining pleasure.

Imagine, however, trying to "masticate and digest" the myriad episodes of a VolunTourism journey all at once. Here is just a sample of what is being put on your table:

  • Abject Poverty - urban slums and rural villages perhaps of a level you have never, ever seen, much less imagined;
  • Malnutrition - mothers and children in varying degrees of health and nutrition deprivation;
  • Drought - livestock and land so parched that your mouth puckers;
  • A Fence Marked with Crosses - representing the lives that have been lost in striving to seek a better future for the fallen and their families;
  • A Television Set - in the upper corner of a room that represents the method by which children in the school are taught via satellite because the community cannot afford a teacher; or
  • Extreme weather conditions - heat, cold, wet, dry, etc.
Photo Courtesy Of Robert Kolesar, All Rights Reserved

And then, in complete contradistinction to what you would anticipate, a smile appears on every face that you see. Your mind says, "They have no running water, no sewage, a cardboard home, there are multi-million dollar properties in spitting distance of this place - my mind tells me there is absolutely no reason on earth that they should have any semblance of happiness. Yet they are smiling."

This is the sort of thing that will confront you. Are you ready?


Techniques For Processing

Most everyone has developed a technique for processing their life experiences or giving themselves distance from life's challenges. (Please note: we are not referring to drugs or alcohol in this situation because in some destinations - neither will be readily available.)

Photo Courtesy Of The Pepy Ride, All Rights Reserved

What we are referencing in this section are perhaps hobbies that you have - writing, painting, or sketching. You may also use certain forms of exercise - running, lifting weights, walking, kayaking, swimming, or biking - for this purpose. Some of you will have cultivated a meditative practice, hatha or kundalini yoga practice, contemplative silence, or other similar body-mind-soul activities.

[If you enjoy practicing techniques suggested by others, you might review these tips from Jackie Kelm presented in The VolunTourist Newsletter.]

Others may prefer the group approach and have gatherings with close friends to discuss topics and issues in life that are difficult for you; or, perhaps, to celebrate breakthroughs in your life. Either is possible and a group setting may prove an excellent method for this. Student groups, particularly from a sectarian school, will often practice reflection and prayer in a group setting.

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Have Your Toolbox Ready

Photo Courtesy Of Robert Kolesar, All Rights Reserved

Prior to departing for your VolunTourism journey, have some idea about what options work best for you. If group processing is your preference, you may want to make certain that this approach will be available to you through a given program. (Not all programs offer group reflection or processing time; since it is important, you should check before you make a decision to select a certain program.)

If you process individually, determine what items you will need to take with you to "practice your practice." Add these items to your packing list and double check to assure yourself that you have included them.

Then you will want to review the itinerary and determine, if need be, what "free" periods will be available to you that you may include some processing time. Again, this is important. Some VolunTourism Operators may have overlooked this and you will want to either bring it to their attention or select a program that incorporates processing into the itinerary.

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