Hello bloggers! Hopefully you enjoyed my last post about the amazing exhibit at the Clinton Library! I will shift focus a bit towards a different department: Interpretation! I love the field of interpretation, and with the help of a lovely NAI (National Association for Interpretation) scholarship, I was able to fly from Little Rock to Virginia Beach for an entire week to learn, meet new people, and explore all the wonderful ways that people use interpretation across the country!
The sessions are the educational part of the conference, and one of my favorites ones was my very first one: You are the Voice of Interpretation! We learned through an exercise the value and importance of what we say as interpreters to our audience, and how inspiring we can be to visitors. The monumental task of educating the public about history, culture, animals, or nature is our goal, but we need to understand how impressionable we can be in the field to others. Another fantastic session was analyzing how Digital Media can actually add to guided interpretation, and not completely take it over. There is much fear among the museum/interpretation field that eventually standing museums or sites will become irrelevant when technology takes over. It is up to us to make sure that we remain relevant to the public, and that can be accomplished by using technology to our benefit. For example, the video I created about the Mobile gas station at Central High NHS. In addition, a related session focused exclusively on Facebook, and the algorithm that Facebook has created to determine if your post gets viewed, or, again, how relevant you remain on social media. Now that I understand more about the algorithm, and the importance of remaining relevant in the digital world, I am ready to tackle the task even more than I already am!
The extra experience I had at NAI include an exclusive meet and greet and dinner at the Virginia Beach Aquarium, the Old Coast Guard Station Museum, and an all day guided tour of First Landing State Park! All of these adventures added to my enjoyment of the conference, and I was able to meet new friends and network at the same time.
One of the benefits of going to these conferences is the amazing opportunity to network. Right off the bat, at the first-timers meeting, I met Marie…or rather, she introduced herself to me! Later that evening, I met my room-mate, Laurel. Marie focuses more on the nature aspect of interpretation, while Laurel wants to work in aquariums. Holly, another scholarship recipient, and Geoff, all introduced themselves within a short period of time, and it was fantastic to be able to talk to them about their background and experience as we navigated through our first NAI conference. I’ve been to a few conferences with friends, but this is the first time I’ve gone completely solo, and I am very happy to have walked away with new friends and memories.
Visiting the beach, learning about nature and history, and meeting new people – what better way to spend my first time experiencing the NAI National Conference? Thanks to all who I met along the way, and those that I did not mention. It was a wonderful experience because of you!