I-FEST stands for International-Festival Experience Study Tour and is an educational programme of the St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas in cooperation with Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Since 2009 St. Edward’s sends over a group of students form different courses to study the Edinburgh festivals, learn about the city and the Scottish culture. This year there are 17 students accompanied by one of their Professors, Innes Mitchell, who leads the programme together with Professor Joe Goldblatt from QMU. Iain Rowan, a fellow student of mine, and me were appointed Programme Coordinators for this year’s tour. We have been helping to organise trips, activities and shows for the students.
Now, after waiting for an eternity, the Texans have finally arrived and we already had a great few days during which we climbed Arthur’s Seat, visited the Edinburgh Dungeons and had a guided tour through the New and Old Town of the city. However, for the students it’s now just a relaxing holiday, they are awarded credits for their degree and have to write several assignments during their stay in Scotland.
Programme Coordinator is really just a fancy word for tour guide and being one is something that I was interested in since I moved to Edinburgh, where I have been showing friends and family around, whenever any of them visited. From an events management perspective it is interesting, because I am, for a change, not organising the events, but everything around them. Iain and I are in contact with restaurants, theatres, pubs, bars, public transport and interesting people from the Edinburgh festivals to arrange meetings for the group. It gives me a different perspective on potential target groups, which might attend my events in the future. Knowing what the needs of a person are that has to plan a visit to an event for a larger group is very valuable to me. As an events manager I will have the ability to make these people’s work easier, so that they might prefer taking their group to my event instead of another, because it is less stressful to prepare.
Another interesting point of view I am experience with the students is the one of a tourist. Tourists obviously do different things at a destination than locals and they do things that locals might miss out on. We did the Saints and Sinners Walking Tour last night and I learned many interesting things about the streets I walk in every day. I encourage everyone to think about what they actually know about the place they live in. You might realise that you actually know very little about the place you call home.
Although only a few days of a whole I-FEST month have passed so far, it has already been worth the time I invested in the project. I am looking forward to the next three eventful weeks. Yee Haw