The Power Behind Good Intentions

Training for European volunteering organisations

International training, 1-7 December 2022 in Innsbruck,

Background of the seminar

White volunteers want to save the world. A lot of young people in Europe approach volunteering organisations with a well-intended “white savior” motivation: They want to “help” the Global South by doing a voluntary service in the Global South, often wanting to work with children. Many potential volunteers don’t understand the global power relations that stand behind such a motivation: European colonialism for centuries has exploited people, land and resources in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania and the consequences of this are more than visible until today. Also today, European governments and companies are contributing to and driving global injustices.

Volunteering organisations need to be antiracist. European volunteering organisations that send volunteers to the Global South need extensive knowledge on the historical, political and economic context that takes place in order to be able to make decisions whether they should send a volunteer to the Global South. If they do send someone, they need good educational methods to talk about critical whiteness, racism, global injustices and the power structures these are embedded in. They need knowledge on how (not) to promote volunteering in the Global South, p.e. on social media.

Sessions in this training will revolve around the following questions:

  • What is the white savior complex? How is it related to colonial history?
  • Which motivations do European volunteers have for volunteering in the Global South? How can we deal with these?
  • How to prepare European volunteers for volunteering in the Global South?
  • How to change neocolonial structures in your organisation? How to show solidarity with the Global South?

Outcome: With this training, we expect you to be able to start institutional changes in order to make your organisation more ethical, antiracist and anticolonial. We also expect you to do follow-up workshops with the contents you learn in this training in your sending organisation, e.g. by taking over the preparation of volunteers or by doing a workshop on white savior complex.

This is part of a bigger project: This training is part of the project “European Youth for Global Solidarity”, funded by the European Commission through Erasmus+. SCI Austria, as part of this project, also organised the training “Beyond Neocolonialism” in Vienna in July 2022. As an outcome of the two activities, we will create an adapted version of the toolkit “The Power Behind Good Intentions”, which SCI Austria has been creating with a series of postcolonial seminars in the past few years.

Participant’s profile

The project aims to gather 30 participants. Our main target group are people who are actively involved in sending, preparing or promoting voluntary services of Europeans going to the Global South. All participants selected for this project should meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Live in one of the countries of our partner organisations: Albania, Austria, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, North Macedonia, Portugal, Slovenia, Tunisia, Ukraine
  • Be able to work in English
  • Be interested in the topics of the training and have a strong motivation to act as a multiplier
  • Able to attend for the full duration of the training
  • If somehow possible and feasible, be committed to come to the training without flying, and to
  • travel instead by overland route.

We explicitly encourage participants of all classes, educational backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and ethnic backgrounds to apply.

Logistics, financial conditions and sustainability

Simple life: The training will take place in a seminar house with simple living conditions. You will sleep in a room shared with few other people.
Money, money, money: We can cover all essential costs of the program (including food, travel costs up to a maximum amount per country, visa costs, accommodation and seminar) through a European project grant by Erasmus+. Your sending organisation might ask for a small participation fee.
Sustainable food: The food we provide will be vegan. This is not just a practical decision, but also an ideological one: SCI believes in the values of sustainability and climate justice – and if we want to contribute to a more peaceful planet, we need to give up on industrialized animal agriculture and its destructive effects on our planet.
Sustainable travels: This is also why we ask you to come to this training through more sustainable means of transport rather than flying (e.g. by train or bus), if somehow possible. We will give you more guidance on how you can reach the venue, once you are accepted to the seminar.

How to apply?

Applications should be sent to your sending organisation, which will each select their own participant(s) and then forward the application(s) to SCI Austria. All those accepted will later receive a detailed infosheet (incl. info on how to get to the venue, how to book your travels, more info about the agenda of the project). First deadline for applying is 20 October 2021.

Contact: If you have any questions regarding the project and your application, don’t hesitate to contact
Thomas at

We are looking forward to your application 🙂

The coordinating team

Tamia, Thomas and the SCI Austria team

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