Book Review: The Voluntourist
The Voluntourist is Ken Budd’s story, or I should say, Ken’s story about what happened after his mid-life crisis. Now, don’t stop reading. This is not one of those crazy, self-obsessed mid-life crisis stories. Ken Budd took two very sad things that happened to him and turned his life into something very positive and rewarding.
One of those things was that Ken realized he would never be a father. He would never be able to do for the next generation what his father had done for him. The second sad thing was that Ken Budd’s dad suddenly died. His father had been a positive influence in Ken’s life.
During the weeks and months following both of these events, various people would tell Ken about how Ken’s father had helped them change their lives. Growing within Ken was a strong desire to leave a legacy of good. The question was how and what would he do?
And then he received an email asking him to help with the relief effort following Katrina. And that was the beginning of his work as what he calls a “voluntourist.” Ken has a clever definition for the word:
n. 1. A guy who attempts to save the world in an attempt to save himself.
2. Someone who can only do it two weeks at a time.
Ken’s experience in New Orleans was enough to have him signing up for more. Each of the six parts of the book focuses on his work in the following countries:
- Costa Rica, to teach English;
- China, to work with special-needs children;
- Ecuador, to study climate change;
- The West Bank, to assist refugees;
- Kenya, to care for orphans.
Many readers will enjoy Ken’s story and find a good example for how they too can help others and make an impact. I enjoyed the book because it made for fun reading. It’s written as if Ken is telling me, in detail, the stories of of all his adventurous while on numerous vacations. His volunteer work gave his life purpose and meaning, but it was also a great adventure.
About the author:
Ken Budd is an award-winning writer and editor whose writing credits include Smithsonian, the Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Stuff, Washingtonian, Modern Humorist, Opium, and Worldview. Ken lives in Burke, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife.