The Persistent Power of Souvenirs: Analyzing Short-term Study Abroad Data Collected via Social Media

By William Lenz.

Published by Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 22, 2016 $US5.00

Study abroad supports the national ideals of international understanding and global citizenship. Having taken undergraduate students on short-term academic international travel courses for twenty years, we have seen that these experiences have had a significant impact on students’ sense of self, worldview, and cultural appreciation. We analyze the impact of travel on student perceptions, theorizing that if an individual recalls a souvenir purchased from short-term travel, if she can contextualize it narratively, if she can produce a current photograph of her travel souvenir and discuss its present placement and meaning in her contemporary life, then the souvenir has persistent power. In this theoretical model, students’ anecdotes of meaningful travel, shared reminiscences and stories, and testimonials about moments of personal transformation cohere around physical souvenirs. We analyze the meaning and continuing power of students’ short-term study abroad experiences, making explicit the link between academic travel courses, souvenir preservation, and engagement via social media with the travel course community. To connect with our specific former students (traveling from 1992 to 2009), we chose Facebook. With a response rate of about 30 percent, we learned not only about the power of souvenirs but the power in social media.

Keywords: Leisure and Tourism Markets, Products, Tourism

Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.17-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 22, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 975.407KB)).

Dr. William Lenz

Pontious Professor, English Department, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA