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The unexpected road to spirituality via volunteer tourism

Anne Zahra ; Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 143 Kb

str. 173-185

preuzimanja: 533



This paper explores the volunteer tourist experience that unexpectedly led to a long-lasting spiritual experience. The paper fills a gap in the tourism literature in linking international volunteering and the spiritual experience.
Empirical data is presented in the form of narratives from six volunteer tourists who participated in three-to four-week overseas volunteering project in their youth. Their stories and experiences are being passed on a number of years after participating in the project. The nature of the projects was welfare/development work, organised by secular NGOs in marginalised and poor communities in Asia and the Pacific. The researcher has been associated with volunteer tourism participants and projects for the past 18 years. The researcher knew the narrators personally and they were invited to relate their experiences because they had little or no exposure to religion and would not have called themselves spiritual prior to their volunteering experience. The narratives focus on the spiritual experiences, epiphany, the search for meaning and transcendence, the impact of the experiences and their lasting effects.
The paper examines what is meant by the constructs spiritual and religious, how these terms have come to be used in tourism literature, and how the findings in this study have implications for future research in this area and the postmodern paradigm. It concludes that the spiritual experience can be complex, intimate and personal, and researchers may need to develop relationships with subjects based on mutual trust if they are seeking to identify particular experiences rather than general spiritual experiences.

Ključne riječi

volunteer tourism; spirituality, religion, narrative methodology, postmodernism

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