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8938 - Exploring the Risks of Staying: Educational Tourism, Secular Rituals, and Cultural Dialogue in Colombia

The social activity of tourism has increasingly become a topic of interest in many disciplines, and in particular there is a focus on the negative impacts of tourism at a local level. More recently, new forms of tourism have emerged to be more environmentally responsible and respectful to the local culture and population of the host country. Educational tourism is one such form. Drawing from participation observation during a three-week academic travel course, this paper explores the effectiveness of this type of travel in the Latin American country of Colombia. Certainly, an academic course that involves focused study on a country prior to travel has many advantages, but what are the drawbacks of this type of tourism? How effective is this type of tourism in addressing issues of environmental impact and heritage and cultural sustainability? This paper aims to examine both the negative and positive aspects of educational tourism and seeks to deconstruct the different power dynamics found within the act of “looking” and “visiting.” Turning an anthropological lens to the act and ritual of “tourism,” I hope to illustrate that the social and cultural impacts on both the traveler and the host population are diverse. Moreover, these effects are not always easily separated from the effects of other outside influences, such as stereotypes and other preconceived ideas about the travelers or host population. Finally, this paper comments on the pedagogical advantages and pitfalls of travel courses as well as maintaining student centered learning and studying while traveling.

Keywords: Tourism, Education, Colombia, Pedagogy

Author: Heung, Jennifer (Saint Mary's College of California, Ud States of Am / USA)

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