Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tour of Mallasa zoo in English: Supporting community based ecotourism

On Monday 3rd December at 3pm, 7 nervous Bolivian tour guides from the English tourism class and a group of English tourists (including other Up Close volunteers and Emma Mendoza´s parents, all the way from England – thank you everyone!) gathered in front of Mallasa zoo for the much anticipated tour of Mallasa zoo. All in all, it was a great success!

Up Close Bolivia first started English classes in 2011, as a way to open up new opportunities in the local tourist sector which attracts many visitors from across the world to visit the natural beauty of the Valley of the Moon and parks of Mallasa. Through teaching English classes I have been helping strengthen local community based ecotourism, as well as supporting family enterprises and local institutions, such as the zoo in Mallasa.

The tour guides (my English students) had copies of the animal profiles in English that they had worked hard to translate in the weeks leading up to the tour. Each pair of guides was allocated a few English tourists to lead around the zoo on a tour, to include summaries in English about the animals along the way.
Tour guides Marcelo and Rossi describing the Doves

Marcelo introducing the Andean fox to his tourists

Tour guide Rossi describing the Andean Fox

I was very proud to see the tour guides stepping right in to the roles, leading their tourists confidently around the zoo (in the hot December sunshine!) and answering questions in English along the way. They presented each animal brilliantly, reading out all of the relevant information clearly and confidently in English to their tourists. 

It must have been a daunting experience to be faced with a group of strangers to present information to in English, all of whom were native English speakers, so I think that all of the students did very well and should be proud of themselves! 
Tour guides, tourists and English teachers in the zoo

In front of the lion enclosure with tour guides Rossi, Marcelo and their tourists

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