If you are looking for a unique travel experience, you may enjoy being a historic building conservation volunteer with Adventures in Preservation. Even if you are cramped for time, there are options to fit every kind of time restraint from a week to several months. Work is interesting and exciting. Usually there is more than one project happening simultaneously, so you can pick the one which interests you. A half-day or full-day is usually given to a sightseeing excursion.
This is an experience for those over 18. However, with special permission, sometimes families can participate together: grandparents, parents, and teenage children. No experience is necessary. Technical experts will guide the beginners. These projects are created through partnerships with organizations holding limited resources. They are fulfilled through a 501c(3) corporation so many expenses are tax-deductible.
For retirees, these opportunities offer both a challenge and a way to serve. This is a chance to help raise the economy of a nation by restoring a heritage building which then may become a center for tourism. For the student of history, it opens a way to gain additional experience, increasing the value of a history degree or diploma. For the heritage professional, it is a way of augmenting skills and adding to a resume.
If someone is majoring in history, this type of activity is the perfect complement to the educational training. It can also open new doors in the field of a degreed major. It is a chance to enhance knowledge and work experience. It may offer an opportunity for language interpretation. Other skills that may be used or enhanced are surveying, conservation cleaning, churchyard recording, and assessments.
An example of a current project is the conservation of the Kumayri Cultural Museum-Preserve in Gyumri, Armenia. It will consist of eight (8) 12-day sessions beginning May 18, 2016. This is part of a project to restore the city’s architectural heritage. There are 1,200 historically significant structures.
The city endured an earthquake in 1988. Half the city was destroyed. The after-effects remain, leaving little funding to deal with restoring the historic buildings. The focus of this restoration is recognizing that once these heritage buildings are restored, tourism will bring life and a stronger economy back to the region. This will have beneficial rewards for the inhabitants of the area.
There will be more than one session. The first phase of the restoration will be documentation and study of the 7th century church that is in the historic district. The documentation phase consists of taking photographs, making drawings, taking measurements, and collecting data. This will help in the restoration process. The historic district contains some of the last remaining authentic buildings in Armenia. Priorities will be developed as to which buildings hold tourist appeal and architectural value and which should be restored first.
Benefits to participating in this type of a project include personal satisfaction knowing that you become a vital part of Gyumri’s economic growth strategy. You get to know an area first-hand, rather than through a brochure. Lodging is within walking distance. A workshop will be held prior to the actual trip for training purposes. You will learn new skills, experience new cultures, play a role in saving a historic building, help build a local economy through tourism, expand your horizons, build self-confidence, and add to your education or professional resume. This is vital conservation work and it can complement diploma or degree training.
Have you been looking for an experience that combines travel with learning new skills? Then consider becoming a historic preservation volunteer. It will become the experience of a lifetime.
This article was contributed by Cheryl Jones, a free lance writer and blogger.