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Joanna will explore voluntourism while rehabilitating elephants in Thailand

17 May 2017

Sir Alex Ferguson Magnusson Award winner Joanna McAleer is to document the development of ‘voluntourism’ while rehabilitating elephants rescued from cruel working conditions across Thailand.

Joanna, who is studying a BA(Hons) in International Business and Tourism Management at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) was inspired to volunteer with GVI USA after studying ethics in the tourism industry as part of her programme and will examine the rise of volunteer tourism during her trip.

She said: “I have always loved animals and was shocked by the working conditions of many used by the tourism industry. I will be volunteering in the mountainous region of Northern Thailand for a month, tracking rehabilitated elephants and documenting their behaviours. I will be working alongside the local Karen community and the cultural experience will give me a first-hand perspective of voluntourism. I will be documenting the trip and sharing film and media with students who may be considering combining travelling with volunteering. I hope to learn a lot and share a new sense of awareness with others. My professional interests lie in ethical and sustainable tourism and I am extremely grateful to have won the Sir Alex Ferguson Magnusson Award.”

Joanna, who is spending an exchange year studying at the University of Rijeka in Croatia, was one of eight students presented with a Magnus Magnusson Award at a ceremony on Tuesday, May 16. The awards will support them in volunteering projects across the globe, bringing their expertise and knowledge to parts of the world where it will make a real and lasting difference.

This year’s ceremony, in the University’s Saltire Centre, marked the tenth year of the Magnus Magnusson Awards. The awards have supported more than 80 students to undertake their own dream projects worldwide.