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Taipei American School Junior Docents at the National Palace Museum
By Warren Emanuel 03-Feb-16
Taipei American School (TAS) Summer Academy had a new and exciting opportunity for upper school students this year: the ability to become certified junior docents, also known as tour guides, at the National Palace Museum. Achieving this certification meant students had to spend long hours over the summer mastering volumes of information on Chinese art and culture. For the now-certified junior docents that took the course, the rewards were well worth the time invested. Students worked incredibly hard during the course. Each day, from Monday to Thursday, docents from the National Palace Museum arrived at TAS and lectured on topics such as Jade, Bronze, Painting, Calligraphy, Buddhism, and Chinese History for several hours. This was followed by two hours in the classroom dedicated to creating a ten-minute presentation on a unique theme. The work was well-received, as the students truly enjoyed what they were learning. The real highlight, however, came each Friday morning when the docents provided a personalized, in-depth tour of the rooms in the palace museum that corresponded to that week’s theme. Although creating a unique, one-hour tour seemed daunting, the greatest challenge was determining what information to omit. Students also had to think about the mechanics of the tour, such as projecting and timing. Students were able to ask questions of the docents during professional tours each week, learning more about navigating crowds and techniques that keep guests engaged. The Junior Docent Certification course was inspired by TAS alumna, parent, and National Palace Museum docent Mrs. Rosalind Wang Ho ’92. Her support, and the efforts of all the docents and staff at the museum and Spring Foundation, made this course possible. Our students gained incredible insight and knowledge, and further developed their public speaking skills. As a result, our first class of junior docents can share the richness of the National Palace Museum and their understanding of Chinese art, culture, and history with the community. Over the course of the academic year, the TAS junior docents will have several opportunities to guide both foreign and local guests. In addition to the planned tours for special guests at TAS, the junior docents will provide tours to ninth-grade students enrolled in the Asian Studies course, as well as university representatives. Overall, the newly certified TAS junior docents handled the rigor and pace required to master the material very well. They impressed the museum staff and exceeded the highest of expectations, ensuring that the course will be offered again next summer. Most importantly, they are raising awareness and interest in the museum itself.
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