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Popular Press

STMs and their close cousins, volunteer vacations, have received loads of attention-almost all of it positive-in everything from Christianity Today to the Wall Street Journal.  Below you'll find references to many of these articles; click on the links to see the full text of those articles for which full text is available.

-"Habitat for Humanity Offers Many 'Volunteer Vacation' Choices; Worldwide itineraries blend recreation, perspiration with inspiration."  PR Newswire (November 12, 2003).

-"Incredible Journeys."  New Age Journal, v 10, no. 2, (March 1993): 103.

-"Volunteer vacations: An American travels to Poland with a purpose."  The Christian Science Monitor (December 27, 2000): 17.

-"Volunteer Vacations Are In."  National Geographic Traveler. V. 18, no. 1, (2001): 21.    

-"Volunteer Vacations."  Industry Week, v. 245, no. 9, (1996): 38.         

-"Volunteer Vacations."  Budget Travel, (Dec. 12, 2003), as seen at

Adeney, Miriam.  "McMissions: short-termers have their place, but not at the expense of career missionaries."  Christianity Today (November 11, 1996): 14.
The strategy common in many churches of supporting short-term missions at the expense of long-term missionary programs is misguided.  Short-term missions can be beneficial if volunteers are thoroughly prepared and assigned to specific projects.

Allen, Marshall.  "Mission tourism?"  Faithworks.  (Oct. 1, 2001).  
"The explosion in short-term mission trips may represent the first mission movement based largely on the needs of the missionary. If not done right, those trips are culturally insensitive and ultimately ineffective." This well-written article consults a wide variety of sources in several countries to come to its conclusions.

Bannan, Karen J.  "Plan a Volunteer Vacation.  (how to.)"  Woman's Day (June 17, 2003): 20.

Boucek, Catherine.  "Volunteer vacations offer a unique experience, and the price is right, too."  National Post (February 26, 2000).

Brachear, Manya A.  "Youth mission trips aren't vacations, say those who participate."  Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (August 21, 2002).

Brewer, Jennifer.  "Virtuous vacations."  Mademoiselle (July 1993): 46.
The article provides information on socially responsible vacations sponsored by the nonprofit organizations Earthwatch, Earth Island Institute, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Oceanic Society Expeditions, and Habitat for Humanity.

Briggs, Jimmie.  "Geeks On Do-Good Rampage."  Fortune (July 9, 2001): 182.
Article profiles Geekcorps, a Massachusetts-based organization that sends tech-savvy professionals to developing countries for 3 - 4 months to work with small businesses; also mentions similar organizations.

Campbell, Kim.  "You name it, volunteers do it; author of sourcebook talks about range of working getaways."  The Christian Science Monitor (February 23, 1999): 19.
Talks about Bill McMillon's Volunteer Vacations.

Capell, Kerry. "A new kind of working vacation." Business Week (Mar. 31 1997): 98.
Part of a special section on affinity travel. A new kind of working vacation allows people to donate their time and skills to help others. Worldwide, there are almost 1,000 organizations that
welcome volunteers.

Capell, Terry.   "A volunteer's Mexican diary: one week building homes for the poor."  Business Week (March 31, 1997): 94.

Clift, Elayne.  "Building Bridges, One House at a Time."  Habitat Global Adventure, v. 10, no. 2 (July 2003): 3.
Participant in a Habitat for Humanity volunteer trip to Dominican Republic says volunteer vacations build connections between cultures. "But I think what stands out most in my mind is the human chain we formed...That chain, for me, is the ultimate metaphor of what happened one hot, sunny weekend in the Carribean when nine young people and two families built two houses-and one very big bridge-between two communities, and in their own quiet way, began to change the world."

Cooney, John.  "Do-gooder tourism: volunteering in Uganda for the United Children's Fund." Forbes v. 167 no3 (Feb. 5 2001): 84.
The writer describes his experiences during a two-week volunteer vacation in Uganda with the United Children's Fund. He discusses his role with the project, which was set up in 1994 to
provide aid to Ugandan children orphaned by AIDS, and explains how volunteering is cheaper than conventional tourism, allows participants to experience things few tourists ever see, and made him feel truly useful.

Cox, Kathleen "Having Fun while Doing Good."  Woman's Day v. 53 n. 7 (Apr 10, 1990): 38-43.
Senior citizens, young couples and families with teenagers are discovering the dividends that come from taking a volunteer or work-study holiday. Information on volunteer vacations is presented.

Dawson, Marie.  "Mainstreamers on a mission."  The World and I (March 1996): 140.
The author tells about a week spent on one of YWAM's Mercy Ships, and praises its crew members for sacrificing material comfort and a "normal" life for doing something to make the world better.

Donahue, Bill.  "My Virtuous Vacation" Mother Jones (Nov./Dec. 2001).  
On a volunteer vacation to Haiti, the author "visits a ganja field, learns to play cricket, does some shoddy carpentry, and discovers that when Americans pay to do volunteer work overseas, it's hard to tell who's helping whom."

Dunn, Deborah.  "Labor of love: turning beach holidays into good deeds." Conde Nast Traveler v. 36 no.7 (July 2001): 68.
Some nonprofit organizations allow travelers along on research projects. Fees can include meals and equipment, and the entire sum is tax deductible.

Eby, J. Wesley.  "The $18,000 Bargain."  Moody Magazine (Nov./Dec. 2000).
Short-term mission participants pray for missions with greater understanding and passion, give to missions with greater enthusiasm and purpose, develop new priorities about material possessions, introduce others to Christ and help build the Kingdom, and a few participants receive a call from God to serve full-time in missions.

Fergus, Jill.  "Volunteer Vacations."  Ladies Home Journal (March 2000).  v. 116, no. 12 (Dec. 1999).
A sampling of volunteer vacations is offered. At the Charleston Museum in Charleston SC, volunteers can work in their field (digging and recording) and in the lab (washing and identifying

Gallagher, Leigh.  "Innocent abroad."  Forbes v. 167 no. 11 (May 14 2001): 274-6.
The writer describes a week spent on a humanitarian visit to Haiti organized by Hands Together, a private nonprofit organization. During the trip, the author witnessed suffering and misery on an unprecedented scale, and U.S. volunteer Maureen Nielsen, who had been working in Haiti since 1992, was murdered by a robber.

---.  "Walter Mitty meets Uncle Sam: tax-deductible volunteer research vacations."  Forbes v. 167 no. 14 (June 11 2001): 160-2.
An interest can be turned into a tax-deductible holiday if a person volunteers to do work under the sponsorship of a university or other tax-exempt group. For a trip to be deductible, 40 hours of work must be done per week, and tasks can range from genteel drudgery, such as observing, measuring, and cataloging, to more taxing activities, such as hiking to 17,000 feet in the Himalayas to study Nepalese snow leopards.

Garfield, Ken.  "Youth missions trips provide counterweight to popular culture."  Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (August 28, 2002).

Hanners, David.  "St. Paul, Minn., Company Gives People Vacations with Volunteer Work."  Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News (July 23, 2001).
Global Citizens Network is a rapidly growing organization that sends volunteers on work trips/tours to poor communities in the US and abroad.

Heilman, Joan Rattner.  "Volunteer vacations; more Americans are finding that 'doing good' can also be a fun-and economical-way to travel."  New Choices: The Magazine for Your Health, Money & Travel (May 2001): 88.

Hestenes, Roberta.  "Meeting Noah's Other Children."  Christianity Today (August 7, 2000).
A large, affluent Presbyterian church in California develops a relationship with the Afar, an Islamic ethnic group living in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti.  A short-term visit to Ethiopia by a very carefully selected group of church members sealed the relationship, and the congregation has pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars and made contributions to the Afar a permanent item in their budget.  Annual exchanges with Ethiopian partners have been planned, alternating yearly which country will be visited.

Heydron, Jo Ann.  "A river of crocodiles: what's the real purpose of 'mission trips'?"  Sojourners (November - December 2002): 15.
Going on an STM to El Salvador makes author wonder whether US STM volunteers are inadvertently "evangelizing" on behalf of the US government and global capital.  Short term volunteers need to learn about how nationals see the world and its problem, and not assume that what works in the US will work in or apply to other countries.

Holder, Allen.  "Ask about cost, safety before a volunteer vacation."  Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (May 6, 2002).

---.  "Lives are changed on volunteer vacation in the Dominican Republic."  Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (May 6, 2002).
Author recounts moving, memorable experiences had while participating on a Transformational Journeys tour in Haiti.  "We brought our American values, suitcases full of T-shirts, toothpaste and building tools, and our time.  We came home with a different view of the world."

---.  "People give and get back during volunteer vacations around the world."  Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (May 6, 2002).
As attested to by Bill McMillon's Volunteer Vacations books, volunteer vacations are growing ever more popular.  Several individuals who volunteered through the organizations Transformational Journeys and Heart to Heart, as well as several who participated in church-run STMs, are profiled.  Stresses the satisfaction of helping others.

Hollister, Anne.  "Open hearts."  Life v. 18 (Mar. '95): 64-70.
Healing the Children, a 15-year-old volunteer group, has brought 3,000 children to the United States for medical treatment and has organized hundreds of medical projects from Haiti to Thailand. Recently, Guatemalan cardiologist Guillermo Gaitan imported an American surgical team through Healing the Children that performed open-heart surgery on 25 dying Guatemalan children, giving them a new lease on life.

Klein, Debra.  "Hard Work Holidays."  Newsweek v. 136 no. 2 (July 10, 2000): 69-70.
 A growing number of people are opting for volunteer holidays. These individuals are using their free time to restore railroads, snorkel for science, or band rare birds, and some even make their vacations miniature Peace Corps experiences. These vacations do not come cheap, but many volunteers say they get more than they give.  Examples of volunteer holidays are discussed.

Krause, Karen Cullotta.  "Healing the Children."  American Medical News (August 12, 1996): 10.

Kuchment, Anna; Barbara Koh, and Dune Lawrence.  "Lending a Helping Hand."  Newsweek International (July 22, 2002): 66.
Volunteer vacations are becoming more and more popular, as can be seen in the increase of organizations listed in Bill McMillon's annual Volunteer Vacations guidebook.  Article profiles participants in an ecological volunteer program in Australia.

Levin, Susan.  "Volunteer vacations."  Self (May 1992): 140.

Loftus, Margaret.  "The giving trip."  National Geographic Traveler v. 18 no. 1 (January-February 2001): 21. 
Working professionals in the US are increasingly taking "volunteer vacations" where they typically spend one to three weeks doing things such as renovating former coal company housing for low-income families in West Virginia or teaching marketing strategies to artisans in India.

McConnell, Robert G.  "Proselytizing docs need not apply: the postwar middle east may be another pace for physicians to teach-not criticize."  Medical World News (May 1991): 64.
A physician who has frequently volunteered in Third World countries emphasizes that First World doctors volunteering in these countries can help far more by teaching national doctors and surgeons than by performing operations-in fact, doing the latter can in some ways be harmful because it can foster distrust of local doctors among people in the Third World country.

McLachlan, Suzanne L.  "Where the socially-conscious travelers go; volunteer vacations may not promise rest and relaxation, but offer the chance to better the world."  The Christian Science Monitor (May 31, 1990): 13.

Mihaly, Mary.  "Volunteer Vacations."  Industry Week v. 245 no. 9 (May 6, 1996): 38-40. 
Some business people are opting to spend their vacation working hard as a volunteer in an exotic locale. Those who participate in a volunteer vacation live an adventure that cannot be duplicated.

Mumper, Sharon E.  "Are Short-Term Volunteers the Way of the Future?"  Christianity Today.  v. 30 no. 6 (Apr. 4 '86).  p. 41.
Brief history of rise of short-term missions, positive take on them.

Murphy, Michael; and Laura Murphy.  "Getting started; answers to some of the most common questions about volunteer vacations."  The Wall Street Journal (October 22, 2001).

Opdyke, Jeff D.  "Charitable escapes; what do you call 16 Americans caring for 30 orphans in a Romanian hospital?  Vacation."  The Wall Street Journal (October 22, 2001).

Schueller, Gretel H.  "Volunteer vacations." Audubon 102, no. 5 (Sept./Oct. 2000): 66-67.
A number of volunteer vacations are examined, including study pink river dolphins in the Amazon and studying chimpanzees in Uganda.

Schied, Katherine.  "Here are seven organizations that help physicians take volunteer vacations."  American Medical News (May 6, 1991): 24.

Sheehan, Jan.  "See the world, save the planet."  Men's Health (December 1990): 56.
Volunteer vacations and service trips can be a welcome change for those bored with the typical vacation.  Article lists and briefly describes a number of organizations sponsoring such trips.

Stockbridge-Pratt, Dorothy.  "Volunteer Vacations: Want to really get to know the people in a foreign country, or get close to scientific research?  Even if you don't have special skills, you can-as long as you're willing to spend the time and money."  Sarasota Herald Tribune (June 24, 1997).
People who volunteer through Global Volunteers and Global Service Corps help people in other countries, learn a lot on their vacations.  Several such participants are profiled.

Stone, Judith.  "Medical miracle workers."  McCall's v. 115 (Mar. '88): 72-4.
Interplast, a California-based nonprofit organization, provides plastic and reconstructive surgery free of charge to the poor people of Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Nepal. Since the organization was founded by Stanford plastic surgeon Donald Laub in 1969, doctors, nurses, and technicians have used their vacations to travel to poor villages and perform thousands of operations that have changed people's lives

Thompson, April.  "Volunteer Vacations."  Escape from America Magazine, v. 3, no. 3 (Feb. 2001).
Highlights the wide variety of overseas volunteer vacation and workcamp opportunities, concludes: "When representatives from ten different countries get together and hold hands and pitchforks for two weeks, I call that Peace. Mission accomplished."

Velshi, Ali.  "Volunteer Vacations."  The America's Intelligence Wire (July 8, 2003).  From CNNfn News.
Velshi interviews Steve Rosenthal, executive director of Cross-Cultural Solutions (a volunteer vacation organization).  Rosenthal talks about the program's rapid expansion, satisfaction of volunteers, building relationships among people across the world.

Ver Berkmoes, Ryan.  "Volunteer vacation; here's how to win friends and do good while visiting far-off lands, all on your next vacation.  American Medical News (May 6 1991): 29.

Walker, Ken.  "Agencies announce short-term mission standards."  Christianity Today (October 2003): 30.
New "Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission" have been established, and can be seen at

Weaver, Peter.  "Volunteer vacations: doing well by doing good."  Nation's Business (December 1990): 51.