Palms Encounters are a 12 day trip designed to provide some of the insights volunteers gain over a short time frame. Participants first visit an eco-tourism lodge and then travel to a number of communities who host Palms Australia volunteers.
There has been a tremendous interest in shorter opportunities, including among people who are not sure if they can commit to a longer (up to two year) placement. Other groups showing interest are friends and relatives of current volunteers, who would like a guided trip to visit their loved one’s new home, and people simply interested in learning about East Timor and its people.
Palms Australia’s main work remains the sending of skilled volunteers and this expertise has informed the Encounter design. We do not insult host communities by pretending that Encounter participants can usefully volunteer in just 2 weeks. We limit the numbers in each group, so that we avoid being another unaware of our surroundings – another mob of tourists trampling over people’s lives. We take time out each evening to reflect on the days events and process the observations of each group member. We have developed a philosophy of Encounter visits and this informs our approach and means we are able to offer a more meaningful and more rewarding experience than many similar programs.
Interested people can find out more at http://www.palms.org.au/encounters/