Story from America: Touring season
2 Aug 2017 | 245 View
เรื่องเล่าจากอเมริกา : ทัศนศึกษา
As the weather starts to cool and the crispy orange leaves start to fall, the school touring season returns. Standing across from me for their tour in the misty, chilly weather is a family from Korea, all fashionable and wearing their suits and dresses. Their eyes are alert and directed towards me.
I am in tenth grade of high school and this is my third year here in the United States at a boarding school. I still remember when I was in their shoes three years ago, standing in the exact same place, a young boy staring nervously into the eyes of my tour guide. Now, after years of adjustment to the American culture and the school and its community, I have become a tour guide and I am the one being stared at. It’s uncanny how much things have changed in a short period of time.
As some of you might know, colleges and boarding schools in the United States offer tours for their applicants. It’s usually one tour guide who accompanies a family, so the group normally ends up being a group of three or four. Tour guides are important because they take you beyond what you can see on a computer monitor There is nothing like experiencing a place in person.
We tour guides pick you up from the admissions office, and show you everything. We show you the dormitories, the gyms, the chapel, dining hall and more in order for you to better understand student life. Not only do we show, but we also elaborate. For example, as we left to begin the tour with the Korean family, I talked about our daily schedule in which we usually wake up at seven and go to the dining hall at seven thirty, and then attend chapel by eight. After school we have many extracurricular activities to choose from.
When I was walking with them past the dormitories, I talked about the types of rooms available, dormitory life, and forming friendships. Most importantly, I shared with them my most vivid and memorable experiences, such as when our dorm gathers in a circle to start a dance or rap battle, our Saturday horror movie nights, and my late/early morning deep conversations with my friends. Sharing this with my visitors makes the whole experience much more personal . It helps them feel that they are part of the community.
During the training process, I have learned that tour guides need to compress all the information and personalize it. Thus, every time a tour guide is trying to describe or explain something, the information is delivered very differently for different people. For example, I noticed that the Korean father asked a question concerning the school’s history, so along the way, I emphasized aspects of the school’s history more than I usually do, such as pointing to sculptures and showing him some of the old books that we have.
In addition, we share facts and traditions that are sometimes not mentioned on the school website. For example, as we were walking up the stairs towards the dining hall, a room buzzing with life, with kids moving about on many different paths, the Korean family asked me why there was a thick dark line running across the dining hall wall. I told them that the dining hall itself used to be a gym, so the line was where the track used to be. They nodded and smiled, at each other as if saying “Ohhh”. It was really interesting to see their reaction, because I almost didn’t believe it myself when I heard it the first time.
At the end of the day as we were about to part ways. I dropped the family off and received a firm handshake from the father and the son, and from the mother I received a tight hug. One of the primary reasons I applied to become a tour guide, is that I like interacting with people, and learning more about other people’s different experiences from different countries. It’s just a way for me to meet new people, so that I can become more open-minded. I believe that by giving tours like this I am able to do so. It’s moments like these that are worth remembering.