After the orphanage: Former residents' reflections on visitors, volunteers and orphanage tourism

Authors: Kathie Carpenter*,
Topics: Tourism Geography, Asia
Keywords: orphanage tourism, voluntourism, children, orphanages
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The voice that is often missing from the debates and decisions surrounding orphanage care for children is that of the residents themselves. While conditions within orphanages are well described, systematic follow-up studies of former residents are rare. This paper forms part of a larger research project designed to address this gap. In this project, all former residents of one orphanage in Cambodia are in the process of being contacted and interviewed, with information collected regarding their current life situations, both personal and professional; their life trajectories since leaving the orphanage; and, most importantly, their memories and reflections upon their life as orphanage residents. Interviews focus upon their own evaluation of the impact of residential care on their current life situations and future life prospects, their memories of life in residential care, their memories of life before residential placement, their understanding of why they were placed and their own feelings about their placement, their relationships with family members and how that has been impacted by the orphanage experience, and their aspirations for the future and their subjective perception of what will be attainable for them. In this paper, I will focus specifically on their memories of and opinions about the numerous visitors, volunteers and donors who came to the orphanage, as well as their own assessment of the orphanage tourism pheneomenon as it has unfolded in Cambodia.

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