Exploring the site (Image: Ronia Anastasiadou)

How a course can inspire and become a meaningful experience 

It was my pleasure to attend the IE Certified Interpretive Planner (CIP) course that took place recently in Athens, Greece. I work for a company with extensive experience in producing high-quality natural and cultural interpretations. Due to my completely different background, it wasn’t clear to me what interpretation is, or that it even existed. 

To assist me in gaining a thorough understanding of the concept and principles of interpretation, my employer arranged for me to attend this IE course. During the six-day course, we all worked in planning teams and visited a heritage site in Kaisariani, to gain insights and develop our proposals. A piece of history is lost with time. To prevent this from happening in Kaisariani, we made an interpretive plan for its refugee houses that are a century old. We walked around for hours to provoke curiosity and interest by relating the area to people’s knowledge, experience, background and values. We wanted to become familiar, collect as much information as possible, create experiences and inspire people to find their meaning and interact. We visited the GAIA exhibition, the first interactive exhibition on climate change, to get some inspiration on interpretation interactive tools. 

We enjoyed every minute of the procedure and were excited that our plan was taking shape. On the final day, we presented our plan proposals to our fellows and a few members of the Kaisariani community. Although it was our first attempt to interpret, we received positive feedback. My understanding as a newcomer to the field is that balancing the needs of the visitors, the stakeholders and the heritage itself can be quite challenging, but once this balance is achieved, it benefits all parties involved.

The course was not only an inspiration, but it has also been a complete revelation. It has changed my perspective on work and showed me how to create experiences and tell stories that allow visitors to discover the deeper meaning of our heritage. Greece has a huge cultural heritage and interpretation can play an immense role in its preservation and promotion. I was lucky to benefit from the experience of an amazing and inspiring IE Certified Interpretive Trainer and Planner, and I now realise that I am on the right path working and enjoying every step of the way to become a Certified Interpretive Planner. As I said to the other participants, I attended this course looking for knowledge and inspiration and transformed it into a meaningful experience.

Katerina Mela has worked in Secretarial Support at OikoM Ltd. since 2023. She has recently joined IE and is a newbie to interpretation. She can be contacted at: kmela@oikom.gr

To cite this article: Mela, Katerina (2024) ‘Getting familiar with interpretive planning‘ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2024, pg.9.
Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/07/PDF-Newsletter-2024_2.pdf