From a course that comes across to many as BS Tourism/-slash!-/ BS Chill, the Asian Institute of Tourism as the premier tourism school in the country seems to be less intimidating than it’s supposed to be.
I hate to admit it but a lot of people in UP don’t really take Tourism seriously. The collective thought and memory of tourism to many is more or less woven in the glamor and the charm of the people in the industry. The universality of the course, the planning, the management – basically the things that require us to think rather than smile and just be tall – well, they’re pretty much ignored. Or even if they’re not, they’re acknowledged in a rather condescending manner – that those guys at Business Ad are still crunching tougher numbers than we ever will.
I have recently reread Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha and then I thought, if AIT were a woman, she’d be a great geisha. * cue in Japanese accent *
“Ze very word geisha means ah-tist. We ah not coh-tezans. We sell our aht, not our bodies.” (Mameha-San)
In their world geishas, they see themselves primarily as artists. But if you have read the book or watched the poorly adapted film, they’re seen as less than that by other people. “High Class Whore” pretty much sums it up for those who aren’t aware of the roles they’re trained into.
I’m not saying that AIT students are seen as whores but the point is that there is a disparity in how we perceive ourselves; noble and educated, with how other people see us; ending up wearing scarves and vests. In the book, even reputable geishas like Mameha-San, Hatsumomo, and the heroine Sayuri will always be less than their clients and the most that they can hope for is to be mistresses to some wealthy danna or principal patron.
In Econ classes alone, AIT students are discriminated. If you’re not from BA or IE then the class will “take it slow” for you. During elections, at least one candidate will talk about “changing the image of the AIT student” by going beyond “good-looking and stupid”, a brand that we share with CHK. I hate to state the obvious but that’s just unfair for both colleges. That’s like me saying that they have no sense of style in Eng’g or that everybody in FA is a weirdo or everybody in the History Department of CSSP are communists. Are we really going with stereotypes akin to “Not all perverts are French but all the French are perverts”?
Personally, I’m not really offended by the good-looking and stupid niche because I know it’s not true and we could actually use it to our advantage – just be brilliant and we automatically get the best of both worlds. There are a lot who like AIT anyway, seeing the institute like some magical land beyond the overpass where everybody is beautiful (though I must say this is partially a myth- not everyone in AIT is THAT good-looking.)
However, it does worry me a bit given that the industry we are getting into is very superficial. In spite of all the training, Tour 175, and accounting subjects, we are diving into a world where what you wear counts for something bigger than if you were a writer or a philosopher or a stay-at-home accountant. It’s not too bad because superficiality is a comfort – it’s predictable. Putting on an outfit with a sense of passable style and aesthetic is a lot easier to execute than managing a cultural event or a travel expo.
Just think of it this way: While waiting for a job interview in the company lobby, you’d be right next to a co-applicant wearing cleaner cut suit than you can hardly afford at the moment. When it’s your turn and the boss asks about city codes and sustainable tourism development, well there’s just one thing to do: Shine, baby, shine…
The Asian Institute of Management launched the AIM-Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism. What do you think? Competition? Partner? Danna? Tell us what you think!