Meet Shannon, our first beneficiary for 2015 (our fourth year!)

shannonMy name is Shannon Salisbury, I’m a 23 year old student from North Cornwall. I’m currently in my last year at Cardiff University studying for a degree in Marine Geography. I feel very fortunate to be doing such an interesting degree, with lots of practical ‘hands-on’ work and field trips. Part of the course involves carrying out work on board the university’s survey vessel at sea, which I am especially interested in. My interests include sailing, running, reading and travelling. I started sailing last year when I got a place on board a five day voyage from South Wales to the Isle of Wight, and have recently become a volunteer for Challenge Wales- a welsh sail training charity based in Cardiff.

Before going to university I took a ‘gap year’ and travelled to Morocco where I volunteered with children, then travelled to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with some friends. These trips inspired a love of travelling and I have tried to visit as many countries as possible since then, including spending a summer working at an adventure activity camp for kids in the USA in 2012.

I would love to start a career based on my passion for the outdoors, sailing and travelling. This is why I will be completing a six week ‘Superyacht Crew Training’ course this October, run by the UK Sailing Academy. Go Make It Happen is supporting me with the cost of this course, and I am very grateful for this opportunity to be able to pursue my dream.  The course will provide me with sailing and boating qualifications, including RYA Day Skipper and Powerboat Level 2. It also includes a set of safety qualifications, STCW 95, that are legal requirements to working on large vessels. The UK Sailing Academy then provides help with gaining employment in the superyacht industry after the course is completed. I am very excited to start this course, and feel that it will help me enter into the industry.

shannon-hat

I would like to get be as involved as I can with Go Make It Happen, I believe it supports a fantastic cause which I would love to be a part of. During my course in October I plan to keep a blog with lots of photos of what I will be doing, which I will carry on after the course wherever I go with my job. I will use blogging and social media to raise the profile of the charity, as well as promoting the travel and tourism industry as whole to other young people.  I have picked a straw sun hat as I am hoping that my career at sea will take me to many exotic locations!!

Angkor Wat

When I was in living in Asia I would often bump into avid explorers proudly clutching a tattered but well-travelled copy of Lonely Planet. Their future footsteps commonly included a short trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. UNESCO has described Angkor Wat as one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia and it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. The temple is nestled amongst the Angkor archaeological park and was built in the first half of the 12th century.  Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Vishnu and Hindu worship before later switching to Buddhism. It has a remarkable and mystical background that’s intrigued many countries who have tried to claim its vast ruins for their own. Nowadays tourists flock to the site intrigued by its beauty and its impressive reviews.

Angkor Wat (Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Wikipedia)

Angkor Wat (Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Wikipedia)

The tourism board of Cambodia proudly declared that Angkor Wat is an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, and has an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. The temple itself even sits proudly on Cambodia’s national flag.  Such emphatic promotion of a single location has unfortunately led to some more serious recent concerns. Angkor Wat is now in danger of being completely overcrowded and seriously damaged.

Official figures show there were around 2.3 million foreign visitors to Angkor Wat in 2013 compared with just 4000 in 1994. That makes for a staggering 57,000% increase in just under 20 years. It’s simply not sustainable to have such a high volume of people going to the same area year after year without proper zoning and management. Mass crowds are damaging the temples foundations and local hotel construction is harming the environment. Sadly Cambodia  hasn’t had the resources to properly maintain the park due to large political unrest throughout the 20th century.

Ta Prohm, where Tomb Raider was filmed, next to Angkor Wat (Image: UNESCO)

Ta Prohm, where Tomb Raider was filmed,
next to Angkor Wat (Image: UNESCO)

In recent times however, increased tourism development in Angkor has been encouraging for Cambodia’s economy as it continues to expand. In 2012, Cambodia’s economy grew by 7.3 percent but it’s still somewhat hampered by financial leakage and increased profits going to multinational companies.

We are entering a critical phase in Angkor Wat’s illustrious history. If Cambodia is to flourish under reasonable political stability it needs to emphasise other locations in the park, and other locations around the country. More rigorous management programs and better infrastructure should be a matter of top priority. Sustainable initiatives make Angkor Wat a more attractive destination in the long run. The last thing they want to do is discourage people from going altogether.

Dave Hunter
(GMIH Beneficiary)

 

Meet Lauren… our last beneficiary for 2014

Lauren in EthiopiaWho am I?

I am currently a third year student on an interdisciplinary arts degree in London, writing my dissertation on film and disability studies. I am also a Freelance Curatorial Assistant in my spare time, but since going to Ethiopia in summer 2014, I feel strongly that I would like to shift my career goals to work in Global Development and ‘Voluntourism’, encouraging young people to spend time volunteering overseas, not only to have a fantastic impact on their overseas communities, but also to broaden their personal horizons.

 

What will I be doing?

I will be staying and volunteering in Gonder, northern Ethiopia for the Anglo-Ethiopian charity, Link Ethiopia, for one year.

During my time in Gonder, I hope to involve myself in the local community by teaching full-time in local schools. I will be facilitating an open and optional, free summer school program at Fasiledes Preparatory School during the summer term, teaching advanced English Language skills. Whilst Fasiledes School already have a summer school program for it’s over 2000 students, these classes are not free for its students, so only those whose family can afford it are able to attend. For this reason I felt that my class was hugely valuable to the local young community, as it was open and free for all students enrolled at Fasiledes Preparatory School, thus giving those who could not afford to official summer school program something to do over summer by attending my advanced English classes.

After summer is over and normal term time resumes, I will integrate myself into normal term time, as a part time English Language teacher as part of the usual Grade 10-12 curriculum. During this stage, teaching advanced grammar skills are very important, as many students are preparing to take the National Exam, which will determine their entrance into university.

Not only should this be a fulfilling experience for the students, but it will also be an incredible experience for myself to involve myself in the local community and to directly impact my students’ lives through teaching.

I will also be undertaking a research project for Link Ethiopia, during the rest of my time in Gonder into one of their projects, possibly into the state of Girl’s Education or Disability Education in the Amhara Region.

 

My hat

If I were a hat, I’d be a Rastafarian hat, because the Rastafari movement believe that Ethiopia is the Promised Land!

 

Lauren Elliott

Mad Hatters 2 Pub Quiz

Nearly a hundred people turned up for the ‘Mad Hatters 2’ Pub Quiz at the Prince of Wales in Covent Garden on 2nd October. The quiz was run by ‘Guide London’ (the Association of Professional Tourist Guides) and half of the participants were tourist guides keen to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their knowledge. The rest came from various walks of life and included friends of Sam, as well as friends and colleagues of Keith.

Approximately £900 was raised for ‘Go Make It Happen. Some of our beneficiaries were present on the night, two of whom hot-footed it from a Blue Badge Tourist Guide training course lecture on Canterbury. I’m sure they were impressed with how all that acquired knowledge is put to such a useful purpose.

Prizes went to:

  • Winning team: ‘The Perfect Ten’ consisting of Jon Brahms, Tony Hall, Britt Lonsdale, Nigel Rundstrom and Jitka Navratilova.
  • Brain of the APTG: Mike Armitage
  • Best Hat: Delianne Forget

Thanks to Tour Guides Ltd, Antonia Cometa and an anonymous donor for the prizes. And thanks to everyone for making it a great night.

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Jeanie and Steve relaxing mid-quiz

My New York adventure

Hi, my name is Nathalie and this will be my first blog post on here. I will write about my big adventure I was able to do earlier this summer, thanks to Go Make It Happen.

I have very recently finished my undergraduate degree in Tourism Management at Bournemouth University. Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer and had to take over a year out for treatments etc. Despite this I did decide to return to university and although it has taken me longer than I intended to, I am immensely proud to have had the strength to go back. I have a great interest in the tourism industry, but with a particular passion for disaster management. For those unfamiliar with this concept, disaster management is essentially the management of responsibilities and resources to lessen the impact of disasters. So when I retuned to uni I was dedicated to work towards getting a foot in this particular field. As a result, I was accepted on to an international diploma course in Humanitarian Assistance at Fordham University, New York. The course was run by the Centre for International Humanitarian Cooperation.

It was a four week long and very intensive course, and one of the best experiences of my life. Being in New York for four weeks alone was incredible, but the knowledge I gained, the people I met and the confidence boost it gave me was invaluable. Our tutors were all very experienced from the field and we had many guest lectures from organisations such as the UN and various NGO’s. My fellow students also came from all over the world with individual knowledge and experience from the field. I was surrounded by so many inspiring people and the experience I gained by just being in this environment will stay with me for a very long time.

Although it was really hard work, I enjoyed every minute of it and it has made me even more determined than before that this is the field I want to work within. It may sound very far off from tourism, but I believe it is a field which the tourism industry should have closer relationships with. As tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, it has a significant power to influence a range of stakeholders. For my final paper of the course I did write about this and the importance for the tourism industry to acknowledge the implications of humanitarian and environmental disasters on the industry.

Due to my medical condition, I was unable to work alongside my studies in my final year. Therefore the contribution I was very kindly given from GMIH made it possible for me to attend this course. So I want to give a great thank you to GMIH for making it possible. And to anyone struggling: Go Make It Happen, nothing is impossible as long as you have the drive.

Nathalie xx

An audience with King Charles I – and Danny Parlour

Danny Parlour, GMIH beneficiary and soon to start his Blue Badge Tourist Guide training course, treated us to a guided tour of the Banqueting House in Whitehall on Friday 29th August. Not only did we learn all about this fascinating building and the fabulous Rubens ceiling paintings, we also got to meet King Charles I and his wife Queen Henrietta Maria. The King was remarkably chipper considering this was the place of his execution.

Thanks Danny, it was a great tour. The Banqueting House is certainly worth a visit, as is the bar in the undercroft! See: www.hrp.org.uk/BanquetingHouse/

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At the Oscars

Not THE Oscars of course, but the Oscars of the Tourist Guiding world. The award ceremony for newly qualified London Blue Badge Tourist Guides was held at the Foundling Museum in London on the 9th April 2014. It was a very proud moment for all of the 27 guides who qualified as they received their hard-earned Blue Badge from Yvonne Leach, President of the Institute of Tourist Guiding. It was a particularly proud moment for ‘Go Make It Happen’ because among the 27 were two of our own: Denisa, our first ever beneficiary ‘recruited’ two years ago, and Marina, our latest guiding beneficiary who won the Sam Harding Award for being the youngest guide to qualify.

Denisa and Marina

Denisa and Marina at the ceremony

GMIH is about youth and enthusiasm in the tourism profession, and we believe strongly that the most prestigious qualification for tourist guides should reflect the demographic profile of London itself: diversity and youth. We are very very proud of all our beneficiaries, not just our six tourist guides (pictured below) but all of our eleven young ambassadors for tourism in the UK and throughout the world. But Wednesday was Denisa’s and Marina’s night. Well done!

GMIH BBTGs

The future face of tourist guiding in London: BBTG beneficiaries, past present and future

 

London: the most visited city in the world. But where is the most visited site in the world?

Great to see that London is officially the most visited city in the world, although the Parisians seem to be disputing it (surprise, surprise!) – see http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/its-official-london-is-the-most-popular-destination-for-tourists-in-the-world-9063988.html

It’s wonderful news for the tourism industry and yet more reason to ensure we have a professional approach to tourism services, with an emphasis on youth, vitality and diversity (some of the key selling points for London).

London may be the most visited city in the world, but I believe the most visited site is the Kaaba in Mecca, the most holy place in Islam and one which all Muslims must visit at least once in their life-time. Over 3 million make the Hajj pilgrimage each year and many millions more do the Umrah (or ‘lesser pilgrimage’).

Is this really ‘tourism’? I believe it is. Until 200 years or so ago – when the Grand Tour became fashionable, and then later on when Thomas Cook got his excursions by rail going – pilgrimages were the main non-trade trips. Think of the Canterbury Tales for example: stories told by pilgrims to while away the outward journey to their destination. Just like tourism today, the pilgrimages generated a huge service industry: accommodation, transport, food, entertainment.

I was reminded of this last week when I went to Saudi Arabia to run a training course for English language teachers at the Umm Al Qura University just outside Mecca (or Makka, as it should be called). More than half the passengers on my British Airways flight to Jeddah, the nearest international airport to Makka, were pilgrims dressed in their traditional white robes in order to do the Umrah (it is not yet the time for Hajj). It was an impressive sight at Heathrow Terminal 5 and on the flight.

Non-Muslims are not encouraged to visit Makka, but by mistake I got to within a few hundred metres of the holy Kaaba. How did that happen, you may ask. Well, the drive from Jeddah to Makka involves two alternative roads, one for Muslims and one for non-Muslims. The former is a pristine super-fast highway, the latter involves stretches of poorly made road and super-scary driving. My driver took the wrong turning and we ended up driving through a checkpoint and into downtown Makka, right next to the square where the Kaaba is. Somehow I managed to get away with it, although there was one point when we seriously considered hiding me in the boot of the car!

The Umm Al Qura University is in effect the University of Mecca and is situated in the desert just outside the city. It operates on strict islamic principles and although it was strange not seeing a female at any point, I felt a great sense of beauty and spirituality.

I’m not a religious person, but in a way any trip is a kind of pilgrimage, even a sightseeing trip to London – not only the most-visited, but also the greatest city in the world!

Keith in Mecca

Keith in Mecca