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Mae Valdez, Student Stories

What to answer when people ask you about your course


“Bakit ka nag-Tourism?”

This is the question I am often asked by my writer friends.

At first, I didn’t know how to answer it. Should I tell them that I fell short on grades when I transferred from UPLB? Should I reason that it offered the most interesting subjects among the colleges that were willing to accept me? Should I explain ecotourism and sustainable development? Or should I just give them what they’re expecting to hear- that my dream is to become a Flight Stewardess?

Eh kasi Tourism is interdisciplinary.” I would answer.

“Ah.. oo bagay nga yan sa’yo. Matangkad ka kasi.” They would often reply.

I wasn’t sure if they understood what I meant. Nevertheless, my reason for choosing BS Tourism remains; because it’s interesting and interdisciplinary, meaning, it links various fields like sociology, economics and science.

During my first year, I thought Tourism was simply about travelling and going to places. Then there were subjects that taught me about culture, and developing, managing, and marketing destinations.

I also learned accounting, statistics, and economics. At times I felt that some subjects were unnecessary – like algebra – but as I furthered, I realized that taking it out would mean an incomplete picture. Each subject complements the other and gives the students the capacity to have in-depth perspective on today’s social, economic and environmental challenges. It is a holistic course.
Tourism is a phenomenon that has an impact on all species in the planet– and this is not an exaggeration. Tourism affects everything from businesses to ecosystems. On the larger scale, it influences economic activities, cultures and the natural environment. On the individual level, it opens a person to delightful and liberating discoveries.

Tourism is both tangible, as in tourism products, and intangible as in experience. It is both a commodity, in terms of recreation facilities, and a value, in terms of sustainable development. Tourism is a means and not an end in itself.
There are plenty of jobs opportunities available for Tourism graduates. Not only is it a booming industry but the course itself is interdisciplinary by nature, offering a broad range of potential application in everyday life.

AIT graduates thrive in hotel and airline companies, marketing departments of multinational corporations, government offices, non-government organizations and international institutions. No matter what field an AIT graduate pursues, I personally believe that s/he should have a disposition to use Tourism in a way that would benefit the underprivileged majority.

Having finished a course that tackles the basics of everything, AIT graduates tend to be well-rounded and flexible. Some say that AIT graduates may be “jacks of all trade” who lack expertise or specializations. I argue that it is easy to be an expert at one thing, but it is difficult to have the skill to integrate everything. This is what we are taught at AIT – to find connections on factors that may contribute to Tourism as a global phenomenon.

Now that I’m on my last year in AIT, I pretty much figured out what I want to do after graduation.

With my background on writing and volunteer teaching, and after spending a few months of interning at the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, I want to be a Development Worker. Why? Because I believe in Tourism’s potential as a catalyst for change and I want to be part of that change.

I ‘m not sure how long this idealism of mine will last. Of course I want to become rich and successful, but when I daydream I see a different picture.

I see myself in dialogue with indigenous people about ecotourism within their pristine ancestral domain. I see myself teaching kids in the mountains and joining their rituals with bonfires and gongs.

Maybe I’ll get to enjoy wealth in terms of nature instead. Maybe that is success for me. Maybe my preferences would change over time. But going back to my friends’ question on why I chose this course, my answer would be:

“Because Tourism, being an interdisciplinary course, enables me to see the interconnection of things giving a clearer view of life’s grand design.” – Mae Valdez

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About aitsalimbay

The official newsletter of the UP Asian Institute of Tourism.

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