Filled with excitement I went on a journey to Prague a few weeks ago, to take part in my very first IE event.
I had studied the programme carefully, arranged my schedule and was so looking forward to sharing my passion of interpreting nature with other like-minded people.
To be honest, my first impression of Prague was quite surprising and not exactly what I expected. I got off the bus at the described stop and I faced a surreal landscape of prefab buildings, which are indeed a very good example of Prague’s heritage, but just not what I expected to encounter. As I turned around and caught sight of a beautiful old farm building, which was located just on the other side of the road with a wonderful view over the city, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.
In fact, the location as well as the programme was even better than I had hoped for. I guess the image of the old farm house, which has been transformed into a lovely environmental and cultural centre, next to the huge prefab buildings describes it suitably. The weekend was filled by taking the old, traditional setting, transforming it into a living place and making it come alive again to people.
The keynote speech of Jelena Močević, Council of Europe, on the European Heritage Days, pointed it out nicely. She told us, way too early in the morning, that one of the important points is to move from discussing heritage to actually letting people experience it. Instead of focusing merely on the conservation, she argued for a new way of using sites, as long as the citizens take the ownership of it. She also pointed out that this goes hand in hand with various definitions and visions of heritage, but enables people and communities to personally connect with their spot.
And in the same way, I was really inspired by my experiences in Prague, not only by the location, but above all by the people and the atmosphere. We discussed a lot about old habits and new ideas, about the possibilities to integrate heritage interpretation into study programmes and our own experiences with various activities. We drew a picture of a plant and connected it with our own stories and had a wonderful time in the children’s section in the old town museum.
But we also reflected on the way Tilden’s book should be understood in times of populist rising and what our own role should be. We enlarged our focus to a wider perspective. Just like the farm reminds us not only about the ‘good’ old times, but its location also symbolises the constant transformation of time into history and the important role an individual can take, as Michael Medek stressed in his welcoming speech.
Although it was just a few days, I came away with enough inspiration for the next month. I can’t wait to join the next event and I am really happy to have joined this crew.
Sarah Wendl works for the Association ScienceCenter-Network in Austria. She discovered Interpret Europe last year in the course of her Master Thesis in the field of environmental communication and now volunteers in the IE News Team. She can be contacted at: [email protected]
To cite this article:
Wendl, Sarah (2017) ‘Interpret Europe in Prague – The view of a newbie’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2017, 5.