Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weeks 3 and 4 at Banting House - with a tiny Irish Interruption

It is occurring to me at the moment just how lucky I am to know exactly what inspires me and to have the opportunities in several areas of my life to engage with those things. I'm not just having an emotional moment - it's entirely true. Let me explain.

I spent Week 3 of my internship plugging away on my current projects - not a lot of tours through the museum- which is okay because everyone at the office was getting excited for Victoria Day weekend plans.

Me - I was trying to mentally prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. I crossed over the lines of tourism and took up the role of "tourist" on a week long journey through Ireland with the incredibly talented band, Enter the Haggis and several of their closest friends, family, and fans. Now, if you've read up about me, you'll know that this was certainly not my first time traveling(it's one of my deepest passions), but this trip was so very unique for several reasons - and it was certainly the first time I ever REALLY felt like a "tourist" - in a good way!

First of all, I've never had the opportunity to take official tours or pay for tour guides, etc. All of my previous travels have consisted of sketchy hostels, a diet of bread and jam, and marveling at the sites from the outside. This time, I was traveling with a tour group on a trip that was planned out thoroughly by a travel agency. Everyday, we got on the tour bus and were whisked away to some scenic area of the Emerald Isle, oohing and ahhing and snapping thousands of photographs.

Perhaps my favorite part of traveling with Hammond Tours was our fantastic tour guide, John. Not only was he so adorable and charming that I wanted to take him home with me in my pocket - but the man knew EVERYTHING about his country. Being a tour guide myself, I was deeply impressed (and appreciated every word he had to say). I can honestly say I picked up some good tips from him - simple things, like the use of humor, and realizing that people are more comfortable around someone who's going to make a tour personal and fun. I really think I learned more than the average tourist on this trip - so thanks, John, if you're reading :o)

Another reason this trip was a little different is that it was really my first major travel experience as a Public History student. Throughout the week, I was having revelations of just how much my education has changed the way I see everything in the tourism industry. Thanks, Western! But seriously, I found myself extremely intellectually engaged - which only inspired me to further delve into a career in the Tourism and Heritage field. It may just be perfect for me, combining elements of history, culture, travel, and education. Now, if I could just find a position that combines all of those things, with a heavy emphasis on the travel part - as in, I would get to travel...a part of my job. Magic.

A girl can dream, right? If there's one thing I've learned in life so far, it's that you'll be shocked to discover the kinds of opportunities that can find you if you just keep yourself open to them.

So yes, after what was probably the most memorable experience of my life, I returned to Canada with several new friends, numerous photo albums, and a fresh new attitude.

Week 4 at Banting House has certainly proven to be dynamic and interesting. I came back to immediately discover that my article about Banting's beaker had been published in Western News. Awesome. Mission Write for the Public: Complete.

I've actually started accessioning the 2009 artifacts into the collection using the new Past Perfect software and getting my hands on the objects, labeling and such (wearing white gloves, of course). I've been finding a lot of neat stuff in the collection, for example, the old magazines - one from Vichy France mentioning Banting's plane crash and another from 1930 that includes a short story by Erich Maria Remarque, the author of "All Quiet on the Western Front" (that one had some seriously HILARIOUS old-timey adverts in it)

In addition, I have managed to actually complete a project (hooray) - I made an accessioning procedural checklist. I figured I shouldn't be the ONLY person who knows how to use Past Perfect - I won't be around forever, you know...

The most noteworthy accomplishment for this week was, again, tour-related. We had a group of elderly people with diabetes come through the museum (not unusual) - they were a multi-lingual group (unusual) who spoke Spanish and Polish and brought along two different translators. This was slightly intimidating for me. My Spanish is more than rusty, but the group seemed to really appreciate my efforts and that I could understand their questions and comments directly. I reflected upon what I had observed during my time in Ireland and remembered that most of the time, visitors just want to have an enjoyable experience, and perhaps learn something along the way.

In no time, I had forgotten the language barrier and was focused on conveying the messages of Banting House in a conversational manner. We had a ball!

It's amazing how little people (even those affected by the disease) know about diabetes...myself included. I love that I'm learning about health and nutrition and helping others educate themselves as well. For more information, check out the CDA website.

***Note: NEW BLOG DESIGN!! Enjoy the image of the famous and beautiful Cliffs of Moher in Ireland - reasons for the change, I hope, are obvious at this point... :o)