On April 5, I gave a presentation as one of the number of speakers in this season’s series of what’s called Wisdom Wednesdays organized by Next Generation Nepal (NGN). NGN works to reunite — with their parents or living relatives — children trafficked to orphanages, among other things. The presentation series aim to raise awareness about voluntourism in general and volunteering at orphanages in particular.
A journalist and her photographer for the national daily The Himalayan Times were also in the audience. Three days later, the paper published the following piece on page 9.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the article got the CENTRAL MESSAGE of my presentation completely WRONG!
I shared how as an international science teacher — between graduating from college (in 1994) and returning to Nepal (in 2013) — I did NOT volunteer a SINGLE TIME in any of the countries I lived or traveled in (see image below), in spite of an interest in — and experience with — volunteering and social service as a student!
I also shared one of my main reasons for NOT doing so (see image below). I explained how thinking or believing that I could make a difference in the lives of people in countries I wasn’t invested in long-term would be a little arrogant of me!
(If you are interested, the blog post So You Want to Volunteer in Nepal? has a video of the entire presentation!)
I also have some petty issues and questions surrounding the write-up, all of which could be materials for another blog post. But two questions that boggles my mind.
Firstly, having gotten the idea (or decided?) that I had actually said that I had volunteered for 19 years — 19 YEARS! — what drove her to reproduce that — TWICE! — without questioning it?
(She had my business card with my contact details — email address, office phone number, blog url etc. — AND my mobile phone number, something not in the card but which she had asked for and I provided!)
Secondly, having decided that 19 years of volunteering is indeed within the realm of possibilities, what lead her to write BOTH “[he] spent 19 years volunteering as an international science teacher” AND “[u]pon his return to Nepal, he volunteered as a teacher from 1994 to 2013”?
(Unless, she heard I volunteered twice — 19 years before 1994 and then another 19 years since — for a grand total of 38 years! Or, maybe she thought the two were one and the same…as difficult as it is to believe that!)
Of course, it’s entirely possible that the egregious factual error and the contradiction were an oversight on the part of rather the Editor, or the typesetter, and NOT the journalist!
What do you think?