I was honored to be invited by INNZ to share my insights on cross cultural interpretation at a series of workshops titled Inclusive Interpretation. My fellow presenter, Joe Harawira taught us all valuable lessons, not only about Maori culture, but for me at least, about life and grace. Joe is a well known Maori storyteller and keeper of protocol whose highly esteemed international reputation speaks to his talents and insights.
We began in Auckland, North Island. Thanks to Michelle Edge for hosting us at the Auckland Zoo and to Jamie of the zoo staff. It was a special bonus to be able to see the exhibits which are rich in interpretive approaches.
Our South Island venue was truly special- Rapaki Wheke Marae near Christchurch. When I was told we were going to be hosted on a marae I had no idea of the meaning of this; I knew it was special, an honor, but did not fully understand its significance. Sarah Mankelow set up our visit and I am so grateful to her for all her hard work and kindness.
There are intangible feelings on a Maori marae which have no words to describe them. For us it set the tone, the backdrop for our understanding of the material and experience. I use this word instead of learning for the marae and our lovely hosts made the experience one of knowing, one of feeling. It was the most unique and rewarding experience I have ever had in Interpretation and I am deeply grateful.
As for our topic, well Joe and I played off each other words and actions seamlessly to share what this means. When we come from a place of respect, appreciation and understanding for those we may not know we grow, we share of ourselves at our very best. The title- Inclusive Interpretation (thank you Michelle for this) says so much- isn’t it always our goal?
I learned many lessons. What stands out the most-LISTEN, and be open to all you feel, let it guide you.
Joe Harawira Gail Richard
Gail and Joe confer
Active Listening and participation, Auckland
Field trip to Quail Island
Interpretative signs Quail Island
Learning about Quail Island
I have been reading a blog written by a friend and colleague comparing “meaning makers” and “meaning readers” as interpreters. I wasn’t sure if I was in fact either one. This led me to think about how we interpret what we read/see/feel/touch/experience. Interpretation is as individual as the individual having the experience. The question for me is, are we one or the other, are we constructing or reading “meaning”? I think of multiple learning styles (see Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences), I think of individual ways of “being” in the world which affects our “lens”, I think of how we make sense or interpret all that we experience. My esteemed colleague implies she is more scientific in nature, I am not scientific, although I find science fascinating. I am much more connected to the human experience, and this influences my interpretations of all interactions, be they on a large or small-scale, be they in relation to one another, animals, environment, spirituality, all aspects of existence as we know it. Yet again there are millions of other ways to “interpret” what we experience, learn, know; as many styles as there are those who are having the experiences.
As interpreters by profession we think about our message, how we will share information, and meaning, how we will awaken creative thoughts and solutions in our listeners. And each one of these listeners will interpret our words in their own unique ways just as each of us expresses our understanding uniquely. This is, in my mind, the beauty of interpretation; all these many ways of constructing meaning as the speaker and the listener. By sharing this meaning through dialog we expand, grow, create, learn, change. And a large part of our art is LISTENING.
Therefore I do not see interpretation “in a box”- it does in fact have theory and formula, however it seems it cannot remain stagnantly tied to these. Rather they are foundations, not the end result. Everyone is interpreting everything all the time. When we are open to the ideas of others and share ideas back and forth we are using interpretation as a powerful tool to understand. So I end where I began, I agree there are meaning makers and meaning readers and might I add meaning experiences and … and… happily it is endless.
Saturday September 1st marked our third organized visitation with the NAI PIC! A group of twenty-four interpreters enjoyed a scenic and informative tour around the grounds of The Manoa Heritage Center – the site of Kūali`i, a historic home built in 1911 by Charles Montague Cooke Jr., and the Kūkā`ō`ō Heiau. Our guides not only shared fun and interesting facts about the native plants bordering the property, but used pictures and stories to transport us back 100 years before Manoa Valley had been settled and cattle roamed the land. Their “bag of tricks” helped to reinforce our experience by sharing artifacts from various periods in Kūali`i’s history. Our visit culminated with a viewing of Kūkā`ō`ō Heiau, thought to be an agricultural temple built by the māpele class. Kūkā`ō`ō is the last remaining Hawaiian temple in the ahupua`a of Waikiki.
On behalf of the PIC and all those in attendance, mahalo nui loa to Margo and Sharon, our amazing guides, who did an outstanding job interpreting the land and history of a true Manoa Valley treasure. Amanda LaGoy
Travel, if this blog isn’t talking about Interpretation, all the interpretation we do all the time about everything, then it might be about travel. You may have noticed I am a wanderer. Who said it best- well the traveler himself:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
I feel I am my travels, they shape me, influence me and make my world broader and deeper.
There is, however another journey which brings growth and satisfaction and depth. It is of course the greatest journey of all- the inner journey.
And then there is the joyful journey into dance and song. great moments- with my singing pals- really rising up in “Nelson Mandala got freedom” or the warmth of ending an evening with “Rolling Home”, all huddled together, or a perfect rendition of The Gray Funnel Line.
Ah dance. Oh my… zydeco dancing is amazingly varied-It’s so easy to swing all the way around the floor. Contra and good old fashioned square dancing just bring out the grins.
And for pure pleasure watch Let’s Dance- how perfect is this!
May, 2012- Kona- The National Association of Interpretation held their international conference on PIC’s home turf- the state of Hawaii. Interpreters from around the world joined us and we were delighted to share all our goings on with them. We held a session about our chapter and received a very positive response as we reported back on our Storytelling Symposium held at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. We outlined our plans for future Symposiums and we are happy to report several are in the planning stages. Our series of visitations to various interpretation sites are becoming increasingly popular and we proposed that each island consider hosting their own visitations. We are beginning to put this into action along with planned events held on Oahu.
As we grow and expand we feel the profession grows too. PIC has been a labor of love and we continue to do what we can to share and learn from one another in the spirit of Aloha.
Many mahalos to all who are participating, the Board, the other members, and the participants of our events. We are looking forward to more events, trainings and great communication!
The Pacific Island Chapter of the National Association of Interpretation and the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument recently hosted a unique program to the Memorial. Carolyn Knoll of the National Park Service gave an outstanding orientation and guided tour including a visit to the museum and the USS Arizona Memorial. We look forward to many more interpretation visit organized by PIC; in this way we can experience and learn about the many wonderful interpretation programs in Hawaii.
In the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island, BC and Washington state some of the most beautiful islands lie. They are not officially in the Pacific, however these waters are part of this great body of water.
Why speak of these islands here? The natural setting on land is spectacular, Pacific Madrones, Red Adler, Garry Oaks and Big Leaf Maple trees grow in abundance. Camus flowers are unique here, American Bald Eagles, Red Tail Hawks, Great Blue Herons, Pelagic Cormorant, Osprey, Belted Kingfishers are common sights and the marine life is outstanding. Otters, Seals, and the magnificent killer whales.
There is a certain magic to this place, surprising to me that a place so far north can hold such appeal. I am an islander, but of different islands- those of the tropics have always carried the greatest draw- Lamu in East Africa, Bali, Maui- where warm breezes and an languid life style predominates.
As an interpreter I think in terms of how to share every place I know and these islands are no exception. When the sea is calm and a lingering sunset has turned the waters to gold there is nothing quite like it, especially if a killer whale comes nearby, blowing and sounding off- heavenly. Photos by Ken Balcomb and Gail Richard