Impressions of the joint AHI/ IE conference from a mainland European


Having just returned home from Inverness, I share a few impressions of my experience and the memories forged whilst enjoying many sandwiches.

The conference was a bit of a blind date, not knowing what to expect; I think there was a bit of reserve on both sides, but the site visits and evening entertainment were a huge success at bringing delegates from both organisations together.

In my opinion, the first keynote speaker, Drew Bennellick of the Heritage Lottery Fund, was very UK-focussed, which made his presentation more relevant to some delegates than others, but the second one, Carol Ritchie of the EUROPARC Federation, was brilliant and really made us think about landscape and stories. I think inviting somebody from the UK who is in charge of a big European organisation was a great analogy for the conference.

Some presentations I attended were more, others less, related to the theme of re-imagining the landscape, but then again landscape is such a broad term and can be interpreted in very different ways. We all see it differently. Which I tried to emphasise in a workshop that I led. But the site visits were spot on and really landscape themed, leading us from archaeological, geological and nature parks, to battlefields, up the mountains and over lochs to ancient castles. All situated in the beautiful and mysterious Scottish landscape. 

It was interesting to listen to some presentations from UK delegates and attend a workshop about language and the difficulties with interpreting in two languages – mostly Gaelic and Welsh alongside English. It was interesting to listen to discussions about bilingualism and different points of view. Since we use so many different languages to interpret our heritage on mainland Europe, I felt a bit lost. I guess lessons could be learned on both sides here.

The final summing up speech from Susan Cross was (as expected) brilliant, bringing it all together: finalising thoughts about landscape; joining two organisations; meeting new people and going home with a mission to pick at least two people to stay in touch with. We shall see if we succeed.

The AHI Awards dinner was a very grand affair and all the short-listed finalists seemed very proud of being among the chosen ones. It was difficult for me to keep up, not knowing the places or the projects, and the presentations went by very quickly. A special moment for me was when Michael Glen was awarded one of the lifetime achievement awards. I met him at the IE founding conference in Slovenia and he was one of my first contacts with heritage interpretation. The evening entertainment with traditional singing and dancing was just brilliant and, again, one more key element in joining us together.  

Looking back, I think the conference was more oriented to the political landscape than geographical/geological, which I think is extremely good, since IE is trying to promote interpretation all over Europe and the UK is dealing with Brexit. For me, the conference was interesting and well organised. I have met interesting people and got to visit Scotland.

Janja runs NGO Legends, works as a trainer, guide and consultant. She is also an IE certified trainer and a member of IE’s social media team. She can be contacted at: janja.sivec@dlegende.com.

To cite this article:
Sivec, Janja (2017) ‘Impressions of the joint AHI IE conference’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2017, 7.

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