“Every time I return to Taroko, it always feels like coming home,” said George Sheu, a volunteer interpreter at Taroko National Park (TNP).
Fifteen years ago, Sheu started to volunteer out of a need to occasionally get away from his heavy-loaded job in advertising. But this “getaway” has turned out to give him another shelter like home. Confident as he is as a creative advertiser, Sheu feels the powerlessness of humans when facing the ever-changing Nature. So he gave up on the casual manners he first had, and began to take this volunteer work seriously.
Creative and flexible Interpreting
Like many national park volunteers who at first were not familiar with ecology-related subject knowledge, Sheu had to learn everything from scratch. Due to his talkativeness, he couldn’t stand just serving the tourists by simply saying hello and giving directions. “Whenever there’s an opportunity, be it an emcee job for a briefing, I’ll do everything to get the audience listen and make them laugh,” said Sheu. “For example, as the briefing room is really cozy and sleep-inducing, I’d joke with the audience about making sure to keep their snores down or to put a coat on those falling asleep.” His humor always makes an impression and attracts more tourists back for more video viewings, which in turn helps Sheu remember all the knowledge and facts shown in the videos.
His first volunteering mission, in which he guided a group of senior policemen receiving in-service trainings at Central Police University, is truly unforgettable to him. Much elder than Sheu in his early 30s, they paid full attention to Sheu’s interpretation and showed friendliness in so many ways that Sheu feels that “all the hierarchy or gap tends to disappear when people meet in the Nature.” “That’s one of the reasons I love to make friends through the Nature as a medium.”
Being an interpreter and tour guide, of course, requires a certain level of professional knowledge about the Nature and ecology. Starting as a layman, Sheu had had a hard time remembering all the facts about the flora and fauna in the high mountain ecosystem or well applying and interpreting them. “At first I just forced myself to remember as much as I could. But this shallow rote was of limited help. Later I told myself to seriously get to know about only 3 to 5 plant species during each of my visit to the mountains. Soon, I’ve remembered so much, and been able to use them at will in my interpreting,” said Sheu.