Mike On Purpose

Finding purpose in the twenty-first century

Mexican Drug Violence and Voluntourism

Posted by mikeonpurpose on June 27, 2010


The New York Times reports that many U.S. Universities are cutting back on their study-abroad programs in Mexico because of the violence in many cities like Ciudad Juarez.  For example, the University of Kansas canceled a Spanish language study program in Puebla, Mexico, which is nearly 2000 kilometers away from Ciudad Juarez.  On the face of it, this is a huge overreaction.  I have spent a night in Puebla just last winter, and found it to be a wonderful, vibrant city.  The Times explains it this way:

As a matter of policy, the University of Kansas bans study abroad anywhere in a country with an official travel warning, even if the danger being cited is nowhere near where the program will be.

By analogy, this would  be akin to banning a trip to Colorado Springs because of violence in Detroit.

I can’t help if wonder if the bad press coming out of Mexico is having a similar effect on voluntourism to that country.  Are people now becoming less likely to want to sign up for volunteer trips to Mexico, even to areas that are far from where the highly publicized killings are taking place?

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