Home is where the heart is. My sixth CIG course was held in my favourite place in the world. This is what my heart says.

Biograd na Moru is a small city in the Zadar county. It is a small historical pearl of the Adriatic Sea, situated in the heart of Dalmatia. I have a strong, special and unbreakable connection with this city. I planned to run a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course in Biograd from the moment I attended my own CIG training. That was in 2018 in Bakar.  I have always thought how this beautiful small city deserves better promotion and more stories in the local media. Several years ago I started collaboration with the tourist board and a local museum, helping them to create workshops and museum activities for children.

I was searching for the stories about this city for the last three years. However, I was not ready to perform them and to start guiding in the city, despite my long experience – because I was always searching for something more. I have found a lot of hidden treasure waiting to be discovered; the beauty of the city in every small street, lots of local stories and legends about Croatian kings, their Christmas Eve, the coronation of the Hungarian king, Coloman, and arrival of the Princess Buzile, his girlfriend.

The city was destroyed several times and has risen again like the phoenix bird from the ash. For me it was a real challenge to entertain tourists and visitors without any visible heritage.

I was so happy that the City of Biograd na Moru and the Tourist Board of Biograd na Moru decided to organise a CIG course in the middle of the covid-19 pandemic. The participants had a task to create new interpretive guided walks and perform them in the city. As always with IE courses, a wonderful connection and energy was created in the group and we finished with happy participants. You can see their impressions below through their own eyes.

Zrinka Buktenica Mikšić

As various versions of the proverb say, A man learns while he is alive, A man learns all his life, or The education of a man is never completed until he dies. So, I decided to join the Interpret Europe course in Biograd na Moru. Our trainer, full of knowledge, energy and enthusiasm, taught us for five days through interesting exercises in interpretive skills so that we could best show guests the heritage of Biograd na Moru. We had fun, learned a lot, laughed and took nice impressions from the course. I hope that we will pass all this on to our guests who will then always be happy to return to Biograd na Moru.

Jasna Čuček Mršić

This was definitely positive for me. I have learned a lot that I know will benefit me later in life. Everything was excellent.

Kristina Dujlovic

When I applied, my expectations were set only on learning something new, but during the course I realised how amazing and useful the interpretation technique is and it also made me aware of how it could help me in my tourist guide work. Another thing I learned is that anything could be a phenomenon, it just depends on how it is interpreted. During the course, we didn’t delve too deep into analytics and there were many creative tasks, which were interesting and challenging. Even though the workshops lasted eight hours, time flew by quickly and the entire time I felt engaged and interested in the subjects we discussed. We had a chance to put theory into practice by preparing short presentations about objects from the local heritage museum. We had to prepare a presentation, which was a great challenge for me considering that I was with other tourist guides, and the question arose: “How do I tell an interesting story about the item?“ The museum visit inspired me to read and learn more about the exhibited objects, and only then did I notice all the small details that I’ve never acknowledged before – engraved information about the year and place of a ship’s cannon’s creation, which helped in identifying a rough timeframe of when the ship sank. I was captivated by how much history an item like ship cannons could reveal. So, during a friend’s recent visit I wanted to try the things I had learned in a real setting and took her sightseeing. I was amazed by her positive reaction and intrigued by how well the method of including the listeners in the storytelling process worked. It kept my friend interested the entire duration of our little tour. In conclusion, the CIG course enriched my life with a skill in storytelling that connects information, numbers and historic facts in a comprehensive way to form an interesting story. By the end I left with a feeling that I could make my guiding tours way more interesting than before.

Silvija Fošnjar

Since I am a licensed tourist guide for Zadar County, I applied for the Certified Interpretive Guide course with great interest. After the first weekend, I noticed that this education is totally different from all the ones I have attended before. The way we were involved in exercises all the time to encourage us to use our knowledge and experience as a guide even more and better, and enrich the interpretation of cultural heritage, simply awakened the senses that I have not used before in guiding. At the same time, the exercises were very interesting and led all participants to cooperate with each other and to start experiencing cultural heritage in a different way, a way that is much more interesting, focusing not only on facts but also how to include participants/ guests and provide a bigger note – a moment for the guest.

I also changed my opinion regarding monuments that I have not noticed before and had not paid attention to them to think that they would be worth interpreting. After this course I realised that every object, even the smallest one, is worth our attention, because we are the ones who will make it a phenomenon and create a ‘Wow’ effect for the guest. From now on, I am one step higher because you helped me to climb and admire the new discovery about myself and around me. 

Tanja Jukić Bračulj

It was a very interesting experience for me and I would recommend this course to every guide for upgrading and improving their interpretation skills. Our trainer helped us get deeper into each story and think about how much the stories can move the people to whom we are trying to present our heritage. So far, I’ve taken care to try to touch the guests with stories that interest them, but I think I’ll take more care to involve the guests through open-ended questions. I also really like the way this course is delivered because the training is made interesting through games and activities, which will surely stay in our memory longer. Our group of people who didn’t know each other became connected and we left our current state for five days and created our own little microcosm of heritage educators.

Rebeka Knez

Already after the first very interesting and active day there was a great expansion of my knowledge and understanding of this education. This surprised me a lot since I did not expect it. The course was enjoyable and interactive and I collected a lot of useful tips that I will be able to apply both at work and in life. What can be seen from afar is that the whole programme is well designed, which no doubt took a lot of effort and time to prepare it. I am indescribably glad that I attended this course and the time spent on it was a huge investment in myself.

Sonja Lovrić-Lilić

The whole course is ‘colourful’ and it suited me perfectly. The first weekend was ‘warming up’. I am so happy that this course was not just another one showing power point presentations. It has everything! I liked changing location for different activities (between museum, park, TIC, nature park Vransko jezero, Kamenjak).The second weekend was great, especially on Kamenjak. I really liked the costumes – the moment we were performing different characters, it was like we became someone else. I liked working in pairs because we could get to know each other better and the approach, “Who hasn’t been with someone so far, let’s be together now”, helped us to mix. I also got some new ideas for new projects at school.

Marijana Šarić

This five days of training really passed very quickly with numerous new insights. I had no special expectations for the course, but it surprised me positively with its content. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this group and happy for new acquaintances and numerous ideas born due to reflection during the course.

Ivica Škriljevečki

I work for the I TRAVEL travel agency, Zadar. The CIG course is excellent and very interesting. A set of presentations, workshops and exercises that lasts from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seems to go by like an instant.  Admittedly, sometimes at the end of a day it seems as if the head is full or overloaded with new ways of thinking about interpretation of heritage, but the next day we moved on without any problems and applied what we had learned more easily. Apart from the opportunity to get to know Biograd na Moru better, which we have taken for granted so far, thanks to interpretive techniques we discovered new small, seemingly insignificant things around us every day, literally at every step through Biograd, and they all hide a story and message about the city of Biograd, the local people from Biograd and about the heritage they left us.

Anita Vukoja

I consider the time spent in the company of colleagues who enrolled in the Interpret Europe course to be a very good investment for the purpose of connecting and accepting ten people of different characters, ages, educations, and yet so many in humanity and love for each other. Our trainer ‘seduced’ and awoke in us what may have slept for a long time and provided the wind at our backs that we needed. This course helped me build an even stronger desire to grow in the business of my dreams, and that is the job of a tour guide. Because to tell a good story you need to have an emotion that you need to know how to bring to the surface. Without emotions there is no love. And without love, we are nothing.

Ivana Zrilić is an IE Certified Interpretive Trainer. She is a licensed tourist guide for several Croatian regions and since February 2017 has been working as a mentor/ teacher in the Lifelong Learning of the Baltazar University in Zagreb, sharing her knowledge and more than 20 years’ experience in guiding with new generations of tour guides. You can contact her at: ivana_zrilic@yahoo.com.

To cite this article: Zrilić, Ivana (2021) ‘CIG in the heart of Dalmatia’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2021, 19-21.

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Newsletter-Summer-2021.pdf