Saturday, April 26, 2014

One very good guided tour...

Earlier, I had my monthly guided tour at the National Museum of Singapore.

For the first time, the group I guided was composed of all Singaporeans. There were about 12 people in the group. Two young couples, three married couples who are probably in their fifties or early sixties, a granddaughter (I assume), and a young woman.

Though I've been guiding for several months now, I still get nervous just before I start the tour. I'm worried that I won't be able to answer a question (It has happened a couple of times. My mentor said, "It's fine. We are not expected to know everything because we are all volunteers.). And to be honest, I sometimes feel strange that I talk about Singapore history to citizens.

This is why I think the intro to the tour is very important. It is the point when the docent establishes rapport with the tour group. It is the moment when the docent gets an idea whether the tour needs to be adjusted or revised. The few minutes before the intro are also important as it is a brief opportunity to get to know the guests joining the tour.

Earlier, I just gave my usual intro. My name. Where I'm from. That I'm a museum volunteer. That I love museums. That I love volunteering. That I've been volunteering even when I was still in the Philippines.

It didn't take long before I felt much more comfortable in giving the tour. The curiosity, the friendliness, the genuine interest of almost everyone in the group contributed to making the tour an enjoyable one.

As with the other tours that I give, I would always engage the guests. I avoid a monologue as much as I can because I certainly do not want to attend a monologue if it were the other way around. This afternoon, I can say that the group was able to do that.

I was really happy that the group was composed of young adults and seniors. At certain points, I would ask the seniors to share briefly about what they know/recall about the artefact. Paintings are also a favourite subject of mine because it is a chance for me to get everyone to talk and give their opinions about the painting.

By the end of the tour, I have already had created a good relationship with the group. I know that because as soon as I bid everyone to have a nice afternoon, the group applauded and most of the guests shook hands with me and sincerely thanked me for the time. One uncle even said, "Salamat po."

This was definitely one of my favourite and memorable tours.

As a side note: I've recently been seeing some online articles about the upcoming Philippine Independence Day with a lot of negative comments from I dunno if they're locals, PRs. I dunno if these people are posting with the real identities. Nevertheless, the content is just filled with hatred and negativity.

I actually wonder what percentage of the citizenship feel this way towards foreigners. Sure, there are those who are really anti-foreigner, but there is a part of me that believes it is a small percentage. Is it being too dreamy? Too wishful thinking? Too optimistic? I don't think so. A part of me really believes that there is a bigger "open-to-discussion, open-minded" group. Otherwise, I wouldn't have good Singaporean friends. Otherwise, I don't think my friendship with KK or with BT or with BC or with LL or with JL or with DP and PK or even WC would develop into a real friendship. Otherwise, the group I've had earlier wouldn't be sincerely applauding and shaking my hands after the tour even if a foreigner was talking about their nation's history.

During the recent Eurotrip, I had a very good experience in Brussels which my Filipino friend Gemma later pointed out to me. She has been living in Brussels for almost a year now and it has been a good experience for her. She shared that one thing she really loved about living in Brussels was that people do not "profile" people based on the colour of their skin or the shape of their eyes. Whether you're black or Caucasian or Asian, the first thing you would be asked is "English or French?" (referring to the language to be used in conversing). I had that experience at the hotel where we were stayed. The concierge's first question after politely greeting me was "English or French?" I thought it was really nice. I thought it would be great if it were like that everywhere. Okay, now this part I know is wishful thinking. But the earlier one, I know there is still hope.

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