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Hi, so I may have the opportunity to go on a wildlife conservation mission in Thailand or Bali, however, I can also choose to go on a medical mission/learning thing in Vietnam or India. The wildlife conservation mission is really cool and more hands on while the medical missions are more seminar and workshops.

For medical school, which would be a better option?

It seems intuitive that the medical mission would be the better choice, but I feel that it might be very standard (like many people have done it) whereas the elephant conservation mission may be more unique. Thoughts?

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4 minutes ago, offmychestplease said:

based on your posts, you state that you're in HS...fyi do EC's because you want to not because you think they would look good. There are no EC's that are better than others, and even if there were evaluation of EC's is extremely subjective. PS- international trips/volunteering or whatever has a lot of stigma by reviewers because what they are is privileged kids spending a lot of money to go play doctor and take pics for instagram...there are many things you can do to help various communties in Canada.

Alright. I just wanted to do an international mission to get a bit of travel in as well before university, I'm still doing ECs in Canada as well. Thank you for the advice.

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I think if you want to do some travelling, it's best to just spend your money as a tourist! 

In general, voluntourism is seen as being unproductive for the local community, and tends to have a bad reputation. There are many articles online about the impacts of such missions, and I'd suggest you take a read online (maybe not on those missions' websites haha) before making your decision. 

 

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While I agree that there is stigma against voluntourism, I think it's important to recognize that not all abroad volunteering falls under this category. I think volunteering abroad can be a good option, but just make sure to do a lot of research into the organization you're volunteering for to make sure that they're actually committed to making a lasting difference in communities and not just offering touristy-options. While it is a fine line, the problems faced by third-world countries are real and pronounced and not using your time and resources to help these communities just because of fear of being perceived as a "voluntourist" is, in my opinion, a mistake. Of course, simply donating to these causes can also be an option.

Long story short, international volunteering can be meaningful but make sure you research the organization in depth and ensure that they're doing lasting and important work and not just voluntourism trips. It is also true, as has been mentioned, that many volunteering trips do more harm than good to the local community, so ensure you look into that as well

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I think there are both sides to the story. And as Psych has pointed out, what matters more would be your true intention of going on the trip and your understanding of the organization and the mission you're joining. Ultimately, if your heart is pure and your interests ads genuine, either of those options will give support to your application. They're probably quite short and won't alter your application too much. An important question to ask yourself though is how you think this trip will fit into your narrative a few years from now when it comes time to apply for med? It's essential to follow up with these interests once you're in university to prove that this mission is not just a one-time thing. Do you see yourself continuing with wildlife preservation as your EC in university? Or medical education and advocacy is more your thing? Doing activities within these themes consistently both abroad and Canada will show your genuine motivation in these causes and form a good "story" for your application. 

So pick what you're interested in and make sure to keep it up and show progress in uni. Either would be fine as a starting point. 

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Totally agree with Psych up there! I speak as someone who has also volunteered abroad, and doing research about who you want to volunteer with is super important. Some organizations will just look funny from the start, and some will take steps to avoid creating the issues voluntourism is often reproached to cause. 

Do an EC because you want to do it and it speaks to you, not because you think it'll check some box for your application. 

A bit off topic, but the subject of volunteering abroad would make an excellent MMI question...  

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