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Woman accused of ruining coworker's vacation; 'It's because you were GATEKEEPING YOUR CULTURE!' AITA?

Woman accused of ruining coworker's vacation; 'It's because you were GATEKEEPING YOUR CULTURE!' AITA?

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When this woman isn't sure if she ruined her coworker's vacation or not, she asks the internet:

"AITA for “gatekeeping” my culture and ruining a coworker’s vacation?"

My family (23F) is originally from Jamaica, and I’m very proud of where we come from. My parents emigrated in the 80s, but they made a point of traveling home several times per year and maintaining a Jamaican household to keep my siblings and I connected to our culture.

I returned from this year’s vacation this past weekend, and I was telling Coworker A about it during our break because they asked what I was eating (a very popular dish there). Coworker B overheard that I was talking about Jamaica, and started gushing about going there over Christmas and how “immersed” in the culture she felt.

I asked her where she stayed and what she did, and she said that she stayed in a Sandals resort and never really left except when she went to swim with dolphins and sail on a catamaran. I asked her whether she went to Kingston (where I was) and she said that she didn’t because it was just “too unsafe.”

I then asked her if she enjoyed the food and she said that she didn’t have any of the Jamaican dishes “because she didn’t know what they were.” I didn’t say anything, and just kept a smile plastered on my face, told her that I’m “glad she enjoyed the resort”, and went back to eating my lunch and talking to Coworker A.

Coworker B then questioned why I wasn’t engaging with her because “she’s been to the country” and I pointed out that she didn’t interact with locals, eat the food, or leave the Sandals except for tourist experiences so I didn’t feel like we could engage about much.

She then got upset with me and accused me of “gatekeeping” my culture and ruining the memory of her vacation. I felt bad because Coworker A said that I didn’t have to ask her all those questions, but when I told my mom about it, her and my family were on my side. AITA?

Let's see what readers had to say:

festiiid writes:

YTA. I agree that coworker B did not learn the culture. She certainly wasn't immersed in it. I have a hard time understanding how she thought that. I went there. The disparity between the resort experience and locals' life is painfully obvious.

That said, I am deferring to the judgment of coworker A because they heard the conversation directly.

They heard the tone in which you asked those questions. I am not going to know any better than someone who was actually there. I understand your annoyance but it wouldn't have hurt anyone to let coworker B remain ignorant so she could enjoy her memory.

smokeh writes:

YTA You could have suggested nice places in Kingston for her to visit next time, shared a bit about different meals, or suggested things she could do to see more of the real culture you enjoy.

Next time she goes, she may have engaged in some more experiences with a bit of "local" knowledge. There are many positive ways you could have engaged with her.

She went to the country and enjoyed the people, places, and weather she experienced. Just because it wasn't you way, doesn't make it any less enjoyable for her.

borndamage writes:

NTA. People like your Coworker B are absolutely insufferable! They get on a plane to an airport in the destination country, take a bus or some other transport to the resort and then sit on the beach, swim in the pool and drink all day.

They eat the American foods the resort provides because they are self-absorbed dolts and refuse to visit places outside the resort because "it isn't safe".

Then they come home and act like they are these intrepid world travelers, who in their booze fogged minds, think they have touched the spark of other cultures. If anything, you were too polite with that a-hole.

gagar writes:

YTA. Your co-worker tried to engage with you by sharing about something she thought you two could connect on.

And instead of meeting her halfway on that by engaging in some polite conversation OR by taking the opportunity to share (educate her) on something you love about your home culture that she didn’t get a chance to experience, you take the opportunity to dunk on her and make her feel stupid.

In front of another co-worker, no less. You’re not wrong that she got a very curated experience of ‘Jamaican culture’ but that wasn’t the point. The point was your co-worker was trying to make some lunchtime conversation and you used it as a chance to shame her and act superior.

robgroup writes:

NTA - to gatekeep a culture you'd need to invalidate her view of said culture. That can't really work when she hasn't actually engaged with it.

Resorts are shit for actually experiencing foreign culture and lifestyles. At best, they are curated "best bits", but divorced from the actual life of the place.

I do think you had room to actually engage with her about the culture. You could have suggested to her where to stay or where to go that's "safe" on a subsequent visit and generally been a better ambassador for your culture.

However, you're aren't obliged to do this and it doesn't make you an AH for not having done it. I just think that would have been the better reaction.

gravedect writes:

NTA. I went to Jamaica on a cruise a few years ago and had the most incredible lunch after our excursion because my friend and I asked our guide where they’d eat and what they’d order instead of playing it safe. And I get that travelling like that isn’t for everyone. But…you didn’t gatekeep.

You weren’t even rude to her. You just didn’t engage with her because she really didn’t experience Jamaica and…that’s fine. You didn’t lecture her about it or even make her feel bad, that was entirely on her. She’s the one that butted into your conversation.

Also may I just say, everyone I met in Jamaica was extremely warm and friendly. We were in Ocho Rios, not Kingston, but the whole experience was wonderful. It was just a day but it made me want to book a trip to stay there longer.

aghter writes:

NTA. I say this as someone who went to a weekend wedding in Sandal’s Ochi resort. We drove over an hour to the resort from the airport.

My luggage was lost, so the Sandals employees set up for me to go shopping in Ochi for clothing: I spent a few hours off the resort (the day of the wedding or I would have gone into Kingston where I knew locals went for shopping).

I DON’T consider that I have really visited Jamaica and am still sad I could only get time off for the days of wedding events, so I couldn’t actually explore more.

By her own admission, Coworker A didn’t explore the culture. She didn’t even experience the whitewashed experience, because she didn’t even try the accessible Jamaican food option they had.

She would have been fiiiiiine: flavor-town it is not (I was so sad). She got a stamp in her passport from Jamaica. She went to Sandals Jamaica. She did not travel Jamaica.

Also, Coworker B is an idiot. That is like you going to an all inclusive resort in whatever country you are in, never leaving, never eating the country’s cuisine, and coming back to work to say that you now understand better their lives. In fact, say that.

siobhanaa writes:

NTA. She was in Jamaica but did nothing to experience it. She could have been in any tropical resort in any country and it wouldn't have made a difference.

When I visited my spouse in Singapore, where she's from, a bit under three years before we got married, I did not have a typical American tourist budget. I stayed there for a week, in the cheapest hotel I could find, which was on the edge of the red light district.

They didn't have air conditioning in the hallways, just in the rooms themselves, to give you an idea (I didn't go in one, but I can only imagine that the expensive tourist hotels have AC throughout the building.)

She gave me a glimpse of her day-to-day life, taking me to eat at hawker centers and so on, using public transit to get around, and so on. Although we didn't go to several of the places she wanted to show me because we were … uh, occupied… in the hotel room for a lot of that week, as you might imagine.

I've never claimed to have been immersed in the culture while I was there, nor do I think I have any sort of valid opinions about it as a whole;

I'd say I know more about it than the average white American because I was there once and because my spouse has told me a lot about it in the over 18 years we've been married, but I don't pretend that I have anything more than the impressions of an outsider in terms of insight or the ability to relate to someone from Singapore or Malaysia.

My spouse hates William Gibson's essay about Singapore, "Disneyland With The Death Penalty," because he had an extremely curated tourist experience when he visited the country and based his entire opinion on just that.

Your coworker didn't even do that much to experience Jamaica. I've probably experienced more of Jamaican culture by going to Jamaican restaurants owned and operated by Jamaican immigrants than she did in that resort.

craaad writes:

HMM - yeah YTA. you were judgy and you decided that you knew what counted as a good enough experience for someone else.

How do you feel if someone judges you, decides you don’t know enough about a particular culture - haven’t been to the right places, can’t have enjoyed anything if you didn’t do things the right way.

I mean for example have you really been to England if you haven’t eaten pie and chips, climbed the monument, been to a village show and watched / participated in some morris dancing?

sure she could have been way more immersed and gone more local, and maybe she would have done, next time or the time after (if she ever choses to go again) but

no - she went, spent a fortune, loved it even if she stayed in her resort and wanted to acknowledge how much she enjoyed herself in your family’s country of origin but it wasn’t what you would do there and so it wasn’t good enough for you.

Were you gatekeeping - yeah. Kind of. Hope you are OK with it if and when someone does it to you.

Sources: Reddit
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