Voluntourism and the ‘gap yah’ stereotype; young people and the Western saviour complex

I’ve already mentioned how aware I am that sometimes, to those who don’t know much about what I’m doing and why I’m travelling, I could be viewed as just one of the hordes of young people on a gap year to ‘find themselves’ through travel. Maybe I am.

Such a stereotype! It’s one I am definitely familiar with, as many students at my university seem to have already taken a “gap yah”, so called in a mockery of the “rah” accent and background of the typical Exeter student; well off, middle class and privately educated. I assure you that despite falling into the fairly loose “middle-class” category, I am neither rich nor public-schooled. My parents have always made it clear that they will support me, but we don’t have money to throw around, and I am always conscious of my spending. I attended several run-of-the-mill comprehensive schools, and a state college.

So I perhaps don’t quite fit the “Exetah” stereotype, but as far as being a white, middle-class, “Oxbridge-almost” (that’s another story), lacking a regional accent, I suppose I fit some of the criteria. Not to turn this into some kind of tale about what a special snowflake I am, and how I’m not like other people. I am simply writing this to talk about my own feelings on this stereotype and what we can do to dispel it. Continue reading “Voluntourism and the ‘gap yah’ stereotype; young people and the Western saviour complex”