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The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehemby Ken Budd
Synopses & Reviews
n. 1. A guy who attempts to save the world in an attempt to save himself.
2. Someone who can only do it two weeks at a time.
When Ken Budd was thirty-nine, his father collapsed after eighteen holes of golf. Ken and his wife raced to the hospital—but it was too late. In the weeks that followed, as grieving friends revealed how his father had changed their lives, Ken started questioning his own life—and admitting, after years of denial, that he and his wife would never have children.
And then, still struggling with grief—his grief at losing his father, his grief at not being a father—Ken received an e-mail with the subject line: "Katrina Relief Volunteer Opportunities." He signed up. He went to New Orleans. And he kept volunteering: Costa Rica, to teach English; China, to work with special-needs children; Ecuador, to study climate change; the West Bank, to assist refugees; Kenya, to care for orphans. His goal: to find purpose by helping others, one trip at a time.
Wry, funny, and heartbreakingly honest, The Voluntourist will linger in your mind long after you've turned the last page.
"After his father suddenly dies, the then 39-year-old Budd, a freelance journalist, goes through a classic existential crisis: 'What will people say when I'm gone?' he asks himself. 'What if my own life ends in an instant? What have I accomplished?' Seeking answers to these questions as well as ways to tackle his grief leads Budd to immerse himself in a life devoted to volunteer work. In this sincere and subtly written memoir, Budd gracefully — and often humorously — records how he changes 'emotionally, physically, spiritually' as he travels to work with 'people with real problems and different perspectives.' Budd begins his journey in New Orleans, helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, then moves on to teach English to elementary school children in rural Costa Rica. But these two experiences become the genesis of a broader project — the heart of his memoir — to make four more trips in nine months, volunteering in Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. His underlying theme of learning to 'be trained in patience and compassion' overlaps with not only his grief over his father but also his coming to terms with his and his wife's decision not to have children. In Kenya, Budd finally experiences a spiritually uplifting resolution of his journey of self-discovery, realizing that 'we live up to those who shaped us by honoring their strongest values, by caring for those we cherish, and caring for those that they cherished.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Ken Budds The Voluntourist is a remarkable memoir about losing your father, accepting your fate, and finding your destiny by volunteering around the world for numerous worthy causes: Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans, helping special needs children in China, studying climate change in Ecuador, lending a hand—and a heart—at a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East, to name but a few. Ken's emotional journey is as inspiring and affecting as those chronicled in Little Princes and Three Cups of Tea. At once a true story of powerful family bonds, of sacrifice, of self-discovery, The Voluntourist is an all-too-human, real-life hero whom you will not soon forget.
About the Author
KEN BUDD is an award-winning writer and editor whose writing credits include Smithsonian, the Washington Post, McSweeneys, Stuff, Washingtonian, Modern Humorist, Opium, and Worldview. Ken lives in Burke, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife.
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