Introducing WildChina’s first Newcomer Guide of the Year award!
Organized by WildChina’s Operations team member Nellie Connolly, the Newcomer Guide of the Year award is designed to award outstanding new guides who have demonstrated expertise, passion, flexibility, and a positive attitude in their guiding work with WildChina’s travelers.
Our first award for new guides in 2009 goes to Fran from southern China’s Guilin Province. Nellie spoke with Fran on her career as a tour guide, her English skills, making kids happy on a trip, and why she enjoys working for WildChina.
Nellie Connolly (NC): Why did you go into guiding?
Fran (F): I knew I wanted to be a tour guide as this job allowed me to take leadership, share my life experience with others, meet other people and to be knowledgeable about Chinese culture and politics. I am very friendly and love showing off my beautiful hometown, Guilin.
NC: How do you prepare for a tour?
F: For me, preparing is very important! I begin with looking at the client’s name to figure out if they are Chinese-American, European etc. to begin customizing their trip. I also think it is very important to learn the client’s profession and hobbies so I can teach them about their interests in China.
I am usually a bit nervous before I start a tour, but I think that is a good thing. I think if I was not nervous before every trip, it would mean that I did not really care about the client. I always try to remind myself to be confident and that I am a strong guide.
NC: How do you maintain and improve your excellent English?
F: For me, I feel a very strong link with English. I am very passionate about studying and improving on my language skills which has helped me become a strong English speaker. If I ever feel like my language skills are rusty, I watch English-speaking television programs, buy an English book and read it during my down time. Getting better at English is not an overnight process and I work daily to maintain my skills. In many daily situations, I make myself think through situations in English to keep my language skills very strong.
NC: How do you improve on your guiding skills?
F: Last year, I had several clients ask me questions about the Cultural Revolution and did not feel I had the expertise and knowledge that a top guide should have. As such, I set out to really study up and learn about this period of time in Chinese history and now feel very confident when WildChina’s travelers ask me questions!
NC: How do you make “wow” moments on a trip?
F: For me, when I am leading a family trip, the easiest way to create “wow” moments is to create a really special moment for the children of the family. I know that when the kids are happy, learning and engaged, the parents are also happy!
NC: Why do you like working with WildChina?
F: For me, working for WildChina is a true highlight. I really love WildChina’s clientele – very well-educated, passionate about learning and excited to visit my hometown. I love that all my clients are excited about everything and trying new things.