Welcome back to our new interview series, The Ripple Effect. The Ripple Effect explores the emotional impact of volunteer travel and its lasting effect on people’s lives. Today we’re speaking with Ken Budd, a prolific volunteer traveler and writer committed to changing lives. His memoir, The Voluntourist, is “part love story, part travel tale; a book about losing your father and finding your destiny.” After his first volunteering trip to New Orleans, Ken volunteered in four countries in nine months for his memoir. Ken has written for The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Stuff, McSweeney’s, Might, Worldview, and many more publications. Here is part one of our interview. (Please visit us tomorrow for part two.)
Why do we volunteer? We want to help. We want to leave the world in a better place than we found it. We want to matter. Sometimes, we want to heal. I’ve explored the many ways volunteering helps teach a person to be a global citizen, and the many ways it enriches the spirit: helping others, seeing your work improve lives, seeing yourself through the eyes of people from vastly different worlds, feeling the connection we all share. But I haven’t explored how we can use volunteering to find ourselves—to put our pain and suffering in perspective, to get outside our own heads, and to process grief.