Have you ever heard of “Voluntouring”? Voluntouring is a combination of the words volunteering and touring. With the special trip and volunteer drawing people’s attention, The Inha Times decided to meet Professor Todd Soyck who participated in the “Voluntouring”.
The Inha Times (IT): please introduce yourself
Professor Soyck (Prof. Soyck): I am a Professor from the United States that has been teaching at Inha University for 10 years.
IT: can you simply explain about “Voluntouring”?
Prof. Soyck: Voluntouring is going on a trip through a program where the primary purpose is to volunteer while also having the opportunity to tour the area you are volunteering. You pay to help either animals or communities. Some of the money you pay goes to the Sanctuary or the place you are volunteering at to help them defray operating costs. The rest of the money goes toward your room, food and other basics. Flight costs are the volunteer's responsibility. The volunteering involves work such as feeding animals, cleaning enclosures, working on enrichment activities for the animals, repair and construction of enclosures, and sometimes educating the locals on conservation. There are also fun activities like going on walks with some of the animals. There are a number of companies that provide programs and there are programs located in many different parts of the world. Volunteers come from all over, as well. Most of them are university age but you will find volunteers in any age range. These programs will educate you and provide opportunities to make friends from all parts of the globe. Plus, you will have the satisfaction of playing a part in bettering the lives of the animals or communities you help. Programs can last from one week up to about eight weeks and generally get cheaper per week after the first week. Many young people use crowdfunding to raise the money to do a program.
IT: how did you get started with “Voluntouring”?
Prof, Soyck: I found out about volunteering from a random e-mail asking me to tell my students about volunteering opportunities. After reading about some of the programs I decided I wanted to do some of them.
IT: what is you’re the most memorable “Voluntouring”?
Prof. Soyck: I have made five trips to Africa in the last two and a half years. I've done a few programs in South Africa with the focus on working with lions in the first program, working with cheetahs in the second, working with orphaned rhinos in the third. I have also done programs in Namibia and Zimbabwe where there were a variety of animals and spent a week in Kenya at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. My most memorable moments have been walking with a lion, meeting Sudan, the last living Northern White Rhino male, before he died, feeding young rhinos milk, and walking with baboons.
|cleaning elephant shed|
IT: Finally, do you have anything to say for students who want to do special volunteering?
Prof. Soyck: If students are interested in doing something like this I am willing to talk to them about it. One thing they will need to be aware of is that they need sufficient English language skills. This is because safety is of extreme importance around many of the animals and they will need to be able to understand instructions in order to avoid problems or injuries when working with or around the animals.
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