If this trip has done anything for me, it has reminded me how much I love learning. I have an appreciation for exploring, finding patterns and new discoveries by asking questions about what surrounds me. Thanks to my parents, I grew up visiting museums, zoos and aquariums with wide eyes and a deep curiosity. I think this may be how I became a visual learner.
As a small child, I used to tell tourists at the Arizona Desert Museum in Tucson all about the desert animals in their habitats. I felt like a little expert since I was used to seeing them in my own backyard while these visitors didn’t know a thing about them. They thought it was adorable, but I think those moments of teaching may have been the start of something.
My favorite part of this trip has easily been visiting world renowned museums. Victoria and Albert was breathtaking and every gallery was filled with incredible artwork. As an artist myself, I felt inspired. The British Museum was massive and I ran around trying to soak it all in like a sponge. I was drawn to the Egyptian artifacts which seemed to be the bulk of what the museum had.
We quickly discovered the National History Museum’s target audience was small children as it was full of animatronic dinosaurs, fake fossils and cartoon infographics. Although this was a disappointment to the majority of our party, it reminded me of how I used to be a part of that target audience and how this would have impacted me as a child. Even though I am on the path to becoming a photographer, I would absolutely love to work in an environment like this where I could help teach or inspire others. This trip is genuinely opening my eyes to opportunities I haven’t considered as options to me.
Other than my personal joys and reflections, one thing I have been noticing often is how strange tourism is. Seeing how places have modified their services to make more money is both fascinating and disappointing. At Dover Castle, I was expecting to explore a historic site and its old features on the white cliffs. When we went inside the castle, we followed a directed pathway through staged medival rooms with fake swords, shields, furniture, and tapestries. Voices of kings and knights spoke to the castle visitors through hidden speakers. I thought I was in a Disneyland attraction.
We also went through the World War II tunnels inside the white cliffs and, once again, we were guided through staged scenes by a voiceover from a “soldier.” Props such as desks, papers, typewriters and so forth filled these barracks to make tourists feel like they were there, as if this added to the authenticity of the experience. And don’t forget, to exit, you have to go through the gift shop.
I’m not sure that I like this capitalistic phenomenon. I would love to see more sustainable ecotourism supporting local economies and bringing a cultural awareness to the travelers. I’ve been thinking about this during our travels the past two weeks and I believe this is something I would be interested in getting involved in someday.
I have a strong feeling I may end up connected to the tourism industry whether through commercial travel photography, adventure photography, working at an educational place such as a museum and so on. This program has made me connect with my former passions as I visit museums and meet enthusiastic tour guides. As a kid in the desert, I used to dream of working at a sea life rescue and working with dolphins before I got into photography. That idea slowly faded as I got increasingly more involved in the arts through art and photography classes and joining the marching band.
I am intent on finding a way to incorporate all of these passions into my career and my future. Currently, I do not have a direct plan to achieve this, but I know I will continue to be an explorer searching for the things that bring me joy.