So this is going to be my last post of 2012. Oh, what a year it has been!
I just read what I wrote in December, 2011 -- exactly one year ago. At that time, I was still in the hustle and bustle after the GGN accreditation of our Geopark. The memories of the workshop in Montana was still vivid then, and I was struggling to put my learning into practice. How many 'crash and burns' did I have then? How often was my mind in the state of Munch's "The Scream?" I was a newbie interpretive guide with stars in my eyes. I called us tour guides "the frontliners" and was proud to be one of them.
A year later, I can proudly say that we are still the frontliners. And we have made a progress. As for me, I have had less crash'n burns lately. I have less fear now and thus can pay more attention to visitors. Probably my knowledge per se. has not increased much. But what was better was that through one-year experience, the knowledge I had from before started making more sense to me. Now the knowledge is more "digested"and became part of me. And perhaps because of that, I can concentrate on how to deliver it in the way visitors understand AND enjoy. I'm still struggling and my performance is still far from perfection, but there has been a progress, I suppose.
In 2012, gradually we tour guides started joining various workshops. Our interest has expanded to outside of our Geopark. We realized that now we want to see our Geopark - our own hometown - from a broader perspective and in its relation with other areas.
We want context now.
Isn't this an important progress?
Roughly counted, I joined more than 10 workshops and 3 to 4 guide training tours in 2012. And the workshops included project planning, tour planning, nature game program planning and disaster mitigation (some included international participants). Really something, isn't it? This was much more than I had expected.
One workshop especially encouraged and empowered its participants, including myself. It was the one led by a specialist in the field of cultural properties preservation, and the workshop was about how to revitalize the community based on the Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. This man is actually moving into the community to start a project WITH the locals, in line with the Geopark activities.
At the workshop, he showed us examples of good practices. We could tell that he clearly knew what he was doing and what he wanted to do. He was willing to share all the know-hows he had with anyone who really wanted to DO SOMETHING. "I won't let this community fade out without doing anything to stop it," he said, and we were touched by his enthusiasm and determination.
The bottom line is: to work for revitalizing a community, you've got to believe in the potential of the community people. You just can't do it without this belief, and you can't fake it. The locals will know.
Now, based on all these valuable experiences, my "To-Do" list for 2013 is taking shape. That will be my new year's resolution in the beginning of January.
I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.
To my friends all over the world,
I wish you the very best for 2013.
May your new year be filled with joy and good health!