I recently finished a five-day long CIG course. As all the impressions sink in, I am left with something I call ‘firecrackers going off in my brain’. Let me explain.

I have wanted to sign up for the Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course for quite some time, but was unsure because of the cost-benefit issue. I’m a local guide in Slovenia, trying to pass on to the not-so-many visitors the love and passion I have for the area in which I grew up. Eventually, the course took place not far from where I live, so I said to myself: it’s now or never. The location alone was promising. Set in the heart of the little medieval town of Å tanjel, southwest Slovenia, with picturesque stone houses and art galleries, inspiration flowing along the narrow, cobbled streets. 

However, during the first couple of days, we were put to a serious test. Not by our lovely and ever patient coach, Helena Vičič, but by a freezing cold wind we call ‘burja’, blowing unforgivably and causing the temperature to drop way below zero. On several occasions, after longer exposure, we could not write or think straight anymore and had to take refuge in our cosy classroom. We managed to grasp the basics pretty quickly, but we really got a better idea of what we should be doing through extensive field work and practical tasks. 

In my opinion, this really made all the difference, as I’ve attended my fair share of workshops and courses with nothing more than page after page of pretty generic PowerPoint presentations. I love how the course puts a lot of emphasis on team work and getting to know your (future) colleagues. It provoked us to sharpen our minds, to focus on our visitors and the way we present our heritage to them. We managed to fuse many great ideas into practical and entertaining presentations. Suddenly, simple and previously unnoticed objects started to draw our attention; rocks and trees, bowls and paintings, even graveyards and some more intangible subjects, like philosophy and tradition. We travelled through different approaches and on several occasions debated lively over more sensitive material.

All throughout this, our mentor, Helena, guided us gently but steadily. She encouraged us whenever needed and made us re-focus when we wandered too far out in our expressions. I’m sure we were not the easiest of the crowds, with our proverbial exuberance of openly Mediterranean character.

Last, but not least, I received an invitation for future collaboration out of it, which prompted me to start up my own little business venture. I cannot say if it was serendipity or just a logical conclusion but I’m really happy with the way things are turning out for me at this moment. Just being in the right place at the right time, I guess. I cannot recommend the course highly enough!

Daša Čok is a freelance guide for the show caves and local tourist guide for the Kras (Carst) region, Slovenia. She can be contacted at: dasa.cok@gmail.com

To cite this article: 
Čok, Daša (2018) ‘A crash course on interpreting the things we love’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2018, 9-10. 
Available online: