I’m not talking about college tours, where a few enrolled students master the perpetual smile, the backward walk, and the knack for university trivia for the sake of roping in more applicants. I am talking about the already enrolled student body and the 4 year (or more) tourism that tends to ensue. I haven’t blogged for six days and partially it is because I have been a little apprehensive to tackle this issue. I plan on writing on this issue a little bit at a time, but for now I want to comment on the student mentality of tourism.
What is distinctive (and aggravating) about tourism is sometimes a two-sided issue. It all depends on what side of the fence you are on. I’ve been a tourist before, and its a fun experience because I became an observer to people, and a culture I had never encountered before. I ate foods I had never tasted before. I learned bits of history that was beyond my knowledge. Of course, my eyes were dazzled by the architecture…there were magical moments when I saw the Colosseum and I thought, I saw that in my history book and now I’m actually here in front of it…
That sounds like an accurate account of tourism, right? Sure.
Something that is often forgotten, is that tourism does not stop when tourists leave. Being a tourist, touring, and tourism alters the dynamic of the locality (maybe for the better or for the worst) of that destination. Another fact to consider is that tourism and being a tourist can happen at the domestic level. Examples (off the top of my head) would be major cities like New York City, national parks, little islands like Antigua, and university campuses.
Campus tours give the illusion that either the local area does not exist or that the locality is a distant external force. Everything displayed is for the student and for academia. There is no need to look outside of the campus anything, with the exception of entertainment (festivals, concerts, food etc.) The student is not encouraged to learn about the city/place they will be living for the next four or more years of their lives. This bothers me.
We, as college students, tend to act like tourists when we have definitely overstayed our welcome. We sometimes fail to acknowledge and educate ourselves on the impact of our presence on our host-cities and towns. We may not be local, but we are not tourists
(will be continued…)