Case Study: “Expectations” – Being a Humanitarian vs a Tourist
GER to GER Mongolia Case Study – Foster Respect and Learning: If you buy a rural humanitarian trip is it ethical to “judge” it as a vacation? Ethics 101
THE CASE STUDY: “Expectations” – contracted to be a Humanitarian Traveler but treats/bashes everything like a “Tourist with an Attitude”; Reality Humanitarian Trips are not our vacation packaged trips. People need to learn how to read/listen to the details (website, contracts, workshops, etc.).
Why should GERtoGER be abused/liable for such “tourists” who don’t read/listen/choose the correct trip for themselves?
Folks you decide as this case study represents the negativity that I have encountered on Trip Advisor/Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree… In all honestly, the Question that should be asked is… “How do these tourists rate as humanitarians?” Reasoning – they all purchased/contracted humanitarian trips that are 100% managed by locals that allows foreigners an opportunity to learn how to become humanitarians; disrespecting a highly qualified instructor/workshop, disrespecting the local communities, etc., is not what we instruct. Question, why do they intentionally choose us and the wrong travel services for themselves? Indeed that’s the true question that highlights their motives which is clarified in their overly abusive posts – often Unethical Special Interest Groups a.k.a the 1%, etc. (Humanitarian Trips are not GER to GER’s standard ‘vacation’ packaged trips that score highly 9.2 out of 10 for tourists/adventure travelers)
GERtoGER’s REALITY HUMANITARIAN TRIP’s TERMS AND CONDITIONS https://www.gertoger.org/ger-to-ger-mongolia-trips-terms-conditions-notes/
CASE STUDY – FAILED HUMANITARIAN TRAVELER – Fresh Coffee Stains: http://freshcoffeestains.com/ger-to-ger/#comment-33
This same person also posts as “Jugglingtam” on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-north-east-asia/mongolia/warning-do-not-do-ger-to-ger-program
GERtoGER’s OFFICIAL RESPONSE/REASONING – 100% TRANSPARENCY
(applicable to all trolls, scammers, negative individuals, unethical special interest groups)
First and foremost, thank you kindly for your constructive remarks; even if I had to learn about it from a blog and not directly from you via a feedback form or consultations… I think preying on anyone is a bit unnecessary; just a kind non-offensive remark.
As a developer, linguist, explorer, filmmaker, etc., which you can find more about me from http://www.Zanjan-Fromer.com you will see from my 8,200+ overseas days as a transitional developer that I have been globally recognized (for over a decade) and even awarded Mongolia’s 2nd Highest Medal of Honor. Hence, I think my humanitarian achievements, sacrifices, etc., don’t entirely “suck” as you seem to believe and have written (I’m sure that you wouldn’t make that kind of remark if you really researched all my efforts, works, sacrifices, etc., for the past 22+ years).
Having stated the aforementioned, I am sorry that you feel you didn’t get a full-training pre-departure; I know we tried our best to accommodate your needs.
I am going to write a proper response as I desire to be fair and highlight some things in order to keep your review in the ‘fair zone’ – as it is indeed a public document.
What is the Mission of GER to GER’s Humanitarian Trips?
* GER to GER humanitarian trips is about reality – real families, real lifestyles, real situations, etc. (who are the Mongols? And not about our expectations)
* GER to GER humanitarian trips are not an amusement park experience – it’s about awareness/respecting nomadic lifestyle and learning “their ways” (not ours), etc.
* GER to GER is an opportunity for people to learn how to integrate within other cultures vs. other cultures catering to our international norms and standards that we have become overly accustomed too and demand others to adhere too (like paid entertainment slaves). Being unprepared for “reality travel” and then later bashing the locals (as we know the locals don’t have a voice to express themselves) is a bit unfair and unethical – and yes, I try to provide a voice for them – that you interpret as me defending them/the organization. Please note that I voluntarily allow myself to be a conduit of greater mutual understandings knowing that people will hate me for doing so.
* GER to GER has generated over a Million USD towards Mongolia’s social economic development via supply-chain synergies and provides over 80% of its revenues toward rural nomadic families that greatly need this alternative income source.
* I can tell by your writing style which highlights your approach, mentality and heart – not only related to this blog about GER to GER but also how you describe yourself “And lots of advice… so you don’t f*&$ up as much as me.” You seem to be a person who is always on the “hunt” rather than “fostering” or seeking to look beyond standard approaches/frameworks… (it’s our way or no way)
* Please kindly understand that these very remotely located nomadic families are developing, they are trying to learn how (for the first time) to blend the two cultures “cultural services” vs. “customer services”; of which they do collide in expectations as some aspects are similar however there are so many differences… I can honestly state that by your writing approach – if you take that mental-framework to the rural areas on any humanitarian trip – you will fail more often than succeed in developing meaningful rural-linkages with nomadic families. In-fact, in the first hour with “real nomadic families” you will most likely offend your hosts/hostess and they’ll start to distant themselves from you of which you interpret as “being jaded”… Hence GER to GER tries so hard to foster an online educational environment that you consider as “being defensive” or as me being someone who “sucks”.
Addressing The Excessive Criticisms
Now skipping down to your “pros and cons”. Your quick analysis stirs-up a lot of questions that are justified as your linguistic-approach provides insight to basic behavior analysis… Please forgive me, I don’t mean to offend you – just stating reality.
* Handbook: Indeed the handbook is intentionally kept basic as there are a lot of guide-books available – so there is no need to waste money in duplication; those handbooks fulfill our basic legal liabilities for our humanitarian trips. Being a humanitarian trip we financial can not afford over priced handbooks. Nonetheless, our handbooks are a good balance of being informative without being an overkill, suitable for most basic travelers and cheap to reproduce; we have plenty of positive responses – so we’ll keep to our methods/format.
* Jaded Company: As I previously stated, your arrival time coincided with a lot of “life-happens” matters – just a reality not an excuse… and I am sure that my rural staff/volunteer tried to be friendly and kind; I am sure that we spent more than an hour discussing your trip, Mongolia, culture and some language with you prior to your departure.
* Observers: Indeed, if you are not proactive with “real” remote nomadic families (non-tourist/ genuine families) – they often are culturally shy and/or leave you to rest… not to be rude but that’s their interpretation of a vacation; eat, sleep, rest and just relax – no pressures. This gets incorrectly translated as “being ignored, isolated, etc.”, by those who are unfamiliar with the country, its peoples, its “real” lifestyle and its remote non-touristic culture. Unfortunately most do not properly research Mongolia and its Nomadism prior to arrival and are quick to make the same judgements. Those who read, prepare and learn about nomadism before arrival generally have proper expectations and understand that nomadic families are far from being an amusement park. So you need to be honest and ask yourself why your experience was as such. Was it you and your lack of knowledge of the culture, the peoples, etc.? Were they busy tending to their daily routines? How was the weather outside? Were they herding their livestock? Was the lack of water in the desert region greatly influencing their minds and hearts? etc., there are literally dozens of social, cultural, environmental, etc., situations that could be influencing the families (if you experience the same situation with more than one family – then weather/environment/lack of water/etc., are often the issue). So falsely assuming that everyone is “jaded” is rather rapid/incorrect assumptions, and from your writing I can quickly determine that you didn’t take the aforementioned into consideration.
* Babysitters: Indeed this does happen a lot! :) No arguments there – most GER to GER travelers loved this aspect… it signifies that the family is trying to bond with you, and indeed they are observing how you interact with their children – remember they don’t know who you are and this is how they get to know who you are as a human being, etc., while they tend to their daily routines. Please kindly remember it’s ‘survival of the fittest’ for desert nomads and spring time is an incredibly challenging season for them; emotionally, mentally and physically (livestock birthing, combing, water, grazing pastures, etc.).
* Point: As I stated – I can comprehend a lot about a person from their writing; mentalities, approaches, efforts, cross-cultural comprehension, and so much more… I could continue writing but I believe this is probably more than sufficient that highlights more towards “lack of preparation” and “consumer expectation issues” rather than me or the organization just “sucking” as you stated. Indeed humanitarian trips are designed to assist in mutual learning; you have to understand that it took other nations 100 years for proper transitional development and Mongolia is only 20+ years; hence, they require more time for learning/obtaining experiences. So indeed we try so hard to be transparent via our online explanations that you interpret as “being defensive” as without it – I’m sure you may have even written a worse review than what you have written already.
The Conclusion is Simple… How Do You Rate Yourself as a Humanitarian?
Nelson Mandela “Ignorance multiplies when wise men are silent”, hence I speak.
At the end – it’s really about “reality travel” based on locals’ expectations rather than “standard tourism” based foreigners’ expectations; reality travel is about us foreigners fostering an environment of learning, supporting locals’ efforts, being flexible and understanding, being empathetic, etc. It’s about being a humanitarian traveler in accordance with local’s expectations rather than “standard tourist” and making it about locals serving our needs and our requirement in accordance with our own foreign expectations based upon standard tourism frameworks/expectations.
So yes, indeed you traveled on a humanitarian trip – something uniquely different from the norm (during a difficult desert season for the nomads) that is based on Local Expectations but tried to judge the experience via Foreign Expectations in accordance with standard tourism; that’s not what GER to GER’s humanitarian trips are about. You had an opportunity to travel on our standard packaged trips in the summer (high-success score of 9.2 out of 10) but “you” desired to travel as a humanitarian on the off-season… So honestly the question that should be asked is… how do you self-rate yourself as a humanitarian? Do you think you succeeded?
From my observations – I can see you missed a wonderful opportunity to learn. I am no different than you, 22+ years ago I didn’t speak Mongolian, I didn’t know the culture, etc., but I learnt so much even without a guide, without training, without knowing anything… how?
“I had a true desire to learn and I had an open heart and mind for non-standard experiences.”
You arguments are not totally accurate/ethical – Just say’n.