Vounteers’ Voices 2/2023: Decolonising international volunteering

Read the issue in pdf

In this issue

4 Pääkirjoitus / Editorial
6 Kutsu syyskokoukseen / Invitation to Autumn Meeting
7 Kuulumisten vaihtoa
10 Tule mukaan toimintaan
11 Järjestötoiminnasta elämänpituisia muistoja ja ainutlaatuisia kokemuksi (on the Finnish language website)
13 Join our activities
14 Terveisiä maailmalta: Suomesta Keniaan ja Intiasta Suomeeen (on the Finnish language website)
17 Volunteering around the world: Interview with Vietnam Friendship Village

Theme articles

19 Viisi kysymystä Maailmanvaihdon yhdenvertaisuustyöstä (on the Finnish language website)
22 Dialogeja dekolonisaatiosta (on the Finnish language website)
24 Näkökulma: Hyviä kysymyksiä (on the Finnish language website)
26 Kolme lukuvinkkiä (on the Finnish language website)
27 Tulevat tapahtumat / Upcoming events

Editorial: Decolonising international volunteering

It’s been a year since I joined the decolonisation project Decolonize Volunteering! The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. It is also supported by UNESCO Participation Programme and the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. The two and a half years long project is about halfway through, with half a dozen active members from our organisation steering the implementation. The project was launched to take a more critical look at international voluntary work, its motives, outcome and the whole volunteering system. And what is decolonisation? It can be defined as an act to dismantle the power structures and system of exploitation formed by centuries of colonialism. That starts with the recognition of the phenomenon and progresses to concrete actions for a more just world system.

In the online discussions, July-September 2022, the participation was active, and I got a feeling that we are well on our way towards decolonisation. As usual, the increasing amount of information did not ease the pain. The further and deeper we got in the project, the more doubtful I started to become. Is there any hope of a change? If colonialism is so extensively in the structures of society and our culture, where and how could we begin to change them? Who even wants to, of us who have been given a privileged position in the global order as a birth gift? The fact that the world is unfair to some other people, secures our own political, economic and cultural dominance. But is this inequity inevitable? It is, however, comforting to believe that there is hope. It starts with noticing the continuation of colonialism, understanding everyones’s involvement and finding the will to change the situation.

We started at international level via Zoom and gradually moved on to actions, each organisation in its own way, by implementing some ideas we had developed together from a bunch of decolonisation definitions jointly created in Vienna in the autumn of 2022. The topic was brought to camps, board meetings and the World Village Festival in the spring of 2023. It has been received with enthusiasm but also with a feeling of helplessness. How are we supposed to become decolonised? I believe that it is only possible in a dialogue between different perspectives, daring to see, hear, question and change things. Decolonisation is the main theme of this issue. I hope we manage to convey the enthusiasm we have felt about the subject during the past year through different activities around it. When the project ends next year, we have only taken the first steps on our decolonisation path.

Hanna Sainio
Maailmanvaihto’s board member

Read also

MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices 1/2023: Language and Communication

 In this issue Read the pdf version of the...

MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices 2/2022: Sustainable Volunteering

 In this issue Read the pdf version of the magazine....

Greetings from abroad: From Finland to Austria and from Taiwan to Finland

Each year Maailmanvaihto sends and receives young people for long-term...