Learning From the Experience: Overcoming Failure and Deconstructing the Issues of the Tourism Industry
YJ Na ’20, Seoul, S. Korea
Major: Health & Society
Minors: Anthropology; Biology
With the help of Beloit College’s Summer Funding Program, Weissberg Human Rights Grant, International Education Grant, and Martha and Alan Stuz Grant, I was able to take a 24-day trip to Peru during the summer of 2018 in order to conduct research on South American refugees and healthcare. My research goals were: to observe how the refugee crisis in South America is different from other areas of the world; to see how developing nations such as Peru view their responsibilities towards refugees, and to observe how accessible Peruvian healthcare is in comparison to the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, I struggled to gather sufficient data to support my research. Language barriers were the biggest stumbling block, and the unsustainable relationship between the cultural heritage and the tourism industry was still a shock to me despite being regularly exposed to different cultures from a young age and having several experiences abroad. In short, this research was a failure. It was so devastating and embarrassing that it took me an entire two years to analyze and talk about my experiences openly. While this experience was one of the most defeating of my life to this date, I have actually learned a great deal from the experience itself. Through this observational research, I found that the Peruvian economy was mainly constructed around the tourism industry and that it commodifies its own cultures in order to appeal more to the average tourists. The commodification of any culture is problematic because it misrepresents the traditions, values, and heritage of a group of people for the enjoyment of others. Since the time of the project, I have encountered relevant literature to reflect on the topics of failure and that has helped me begin to deconstruct the issues of the tourism industry.