Did you read the World Ark article about "voluntourism"? Check it out before it's shunted off to the archives.
"For those who want to become more engaged in hunger and poverty work, educational travel can be an invaluable tool. 'Nothing beats face-to-face interaction if you want to learn about an issue, a community or an organization,' said Nancy McGehee, a sociologist at Virginia Tech who studies volunteer tourism. 'All the Web surfing, social networking and YouTube videos in the world cannot come close to the actual person-to-person experience.' "