Smithsonian Journeys: Ros, you have been leading Smithsonian travelers in England for years. In your mind, what distinguishes the Smithsonian Journeys travelers from others?
Rosalind Hutchinson: It’s the way that everyone becomes so interactive with each other. With Smithsonian groups, there is rediscovery of oneself and getting to know like-minded people. It’s the learning and the pleasure of the learning experience that brings everyone together. There is great mutual respect among our travelers. I particularly enjoy meeting the Smithsonian travelers and being the catalyst for their enjoyment of the experience. And together we enjoy spontaneous humor!
SJ: How do you make your tours come alive for our travelers?
RH: You have to assess your audience and select material appropriately. I use visual dissection. For example, take a Canaletto painting of Venice. We analyze it, divide it, and explore its texture, form, and balance (of the people and buildings, the space of sky and water). I awaken the senses, especially the visual. This and other techniques facilitate interaction and allow the travelers to experience intellectual companionship.
SJ: You have led our Mystery Lover’s England tour for many years. What is it about this combination of mystery novels, art theft, and the 1920s era that makes these tours so successful?
RH: People who read mysteries wish to submerge themselves into the problem of the mystery and are also wishing to get out of and beyond themselves and use their own imagination. Similar to the C.S. Lewis Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter, they are transported to a different world. They rediscover and develop their imagination and are inspired to become writers in their own right. Part of the mystery tour is asking the authors about how they got the ideas for their books and the answers often inspire the travelers to go home and write their own! Once, several travelers produced a quiz on what had been learned on the tour and had meetings late into the night to plot their own books. It became very club-like and they were very excited. For those who aspire to being writers, this is an inspirational trip!
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