Monday, November 20, 2017

Traveling around Michigan: Chicago

Thanksgiving and winter breaks are coming up and while many people are going home for the holiday, it may be a little far for international students to go home. But, now international students get the chance to explore the U.S! There are many fun and exciting places to travel to around the states. One of the popular break places for University of Michigan students is Chicago!

Chicago, the windy city, is full of diverse culture and food. A 5 hour drive away, many people drive there or take the Greyhound bus. Flying would take only an hour, but it is a bit pricier. Once you arrive at the city there are many attractions to go see! The most famous site, I think, is “The Bean” or Cloud Gate. It is a public sculpture of bean that is mirrored on all sides.
Image result for the bean in chicago
Chicago also has many tall skyscrapers. You can enjoy the view from the Willis Tower or the John Hancock Center. The John Hancock Center also sports an outward leaning glass panel that has you facing down to the ground from around 100 floors up! And of course if you’re ever in Chicago, you have to try deep dish pizza! The two most popular places are Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. A great city to visit just for the weekend or a couple of days, so perfect for thanksgiving break!
Image result for deep dish pizza in chicago

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ethical Global Engagement: How to Avoid the White-Savior Complex in International Service

My name is Haley Phillips and I am a first year Higher Education Administration masters student at the University of Michigan with an interest in international education. Upon completing my master’s coursework, I hope to work on university-based ethical global engagement programs that promote positive relationships between international volunteers and the host communities they serve.

Voluntourism is an emerging phenomenon among privileged travelers. Essentially it unites volunteering and traveling. Despite being founded on good intentions, the effectiveness of, and motivations behind, such trips overseas must be examined in-depth in order to avoid the trap of moral imperialism – aka going abroad and acting like you know everything about said country. Before you sign up for a volunteer trip anywhere in the world this summer, consider whether you possess the skill set necessary for that trip to be successful. If yes, awesome!  If not, it might be a good idea to reconsider your trip. Sadly, taking part in international aid where you aren’t particularly helpful is not always a good thing. It’s detrimental. It slows down positive growth and perpetuates the “white savior” complex that, for hundreds of years, has haunted the countries white people were trying to help.
Be smart about traveling and strive to be informed and culturally aware. It’s only through an understanding of the problems communities are facing, and the continued development of skills within that community, that long-term solutions will be created. Here’s some tips for ethical global engagement:
  1. Choose to travel with a company that really believes and promotes sustainable tourism. Research research research!
  2. Ask for evidence of how previous volunteers have made a difference. Finding hard evidence such as testimonials from community members and data is a good way to determine if the service organization is actually helping the community.
  3. Educate yourself! Prepare to be a voluntourist by researching and understanding the area that you are visiting. Google stuff such as cultural norms, acceptable behavior, and appropriate dress.
  4. Consider simple ways that you can protect the area that you are visiting and support the people in your host community. For example, carry around a plastic bag with you and collect trash.
  5. Get to know the people who live in the community where you are volunteering. Eat meals with them and learn about their wants and needs.
  6. Consider the long-term impact of your volunteering and take steps to make it count beyond your volunteer trip. When you leave, will the community be better off than before you arrived?
  7. If you are not qualified to do it in the US, don’t do it abroad. If you aren’t trained to build a house in the US, then why would you build one in another country?
  8. The community needs come ahead of yours. You are volunteering to help a community. The trip is not for your Instagram pictures or stories you can tell your friends. You are there to make an impact for the people you are serving
Adapted from:
Northover, R. (2016, October 28). How to be a Responsible Voluntourist. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from
Plummer, A. (2017, January 21). Responsible Voluntourism - Doing Good Abroad. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from