Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Volunteer guides safeguard history tours

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE A CLA program allows unemployed people with an interest in local history to contribute to the community, but resources and time are limited

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Council of Labor Affairs chairwoman Chen Chu, right, visits a traditional house on Oct. 22 in the old city area of Anping. The area now benefits from a council scheme in which volunteer tour guides receive training and a small stipend.

PHOTO: CODY YIU, TAIPEI TIMES

Chung Lung-hsing (鐘隆星) is a 53-year-old father of two who was out of a job in the 1980s when the company he was working for went bust. Since then, he has been doing odd jobs to make a living.

In 2000, however, the Culture Bureau of the Tainan City Government started a program which trained tour guides for archaeological sites. Chung, who was interested in learning about Tainan culture and history, decided to sign up as a volunteer tour guide.

Last year, the National Taiwan Museum also started a community tour guide program, which allowed residents from local communities around the country to better understand the culture and history of their communities. Chung, an avid history activist, also participates in this program as a volunteer.

"With this program, we provide tours on weekends in the Anping area for the people of Tainan. When events are held focusing on special cultural or artistic themes in the Tainan area, we also serve as volunteer tour guides for those activities," said Chung.

On June 10 this year, as part of a Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) multiskilling employment program, Chung was able to receive an income for the first time in his capacity as tour guide. According to the program's guidelines, each employee is able to work up to a maximum of 22 days per month and receive NT$95 per hour.

Currently, there are 14 tour guides and 10 janitors employed under the program.

"As tour guides, we are trained to express ourselves clearly and must learn a significant amount about Tainan's history, culture and geography," said Chung.

"The culture bureau provided a special training program for us in order that we could become professional tour guides, and the trainees are expected to receive their tour guide licenses this month," he said.

According to Chung, many tour guides in the program were formerly managers of tourist agencies or individuals involved in the tourism industry. Due to the economic slump and SARS, they were stripped of their previous jobs, but this CLA program provides them with a source of income.

"The pay is not great, but some of us are very interested in promoting Tainan's rich culture and history. So to us, money is not the only motivation for doing this job," said Chung.

Anping Castle was first established by Dutch traders and the East India Company in 1624. In 1627, the castle was renamed "Zeelandia" and a 200m-square township built surrounding the castle. The Chinese residents there named it "Tayouan." Some argue that Tayouan, which was the first urban district in Taiwan, was the place name which eventually evolved into the present name of Taiwan.

In 1662, after Cheng Cheng-kung (鄭成功), the famed general of the dying Ming Dynasty, evicted the Dutch from Taiwan, he renamed "Tayouan" as "Anping," which means "peace" in Chinese.

"In the Anping area, there are two first-class, six third-class and six fourth-class archaeological sites," Chung said.

According to regulations passed by the Ministry of the Interior in 1982, the classification system for archaeological sites is determined by the local government whose jurisdiction covers the site.

"How an archaeological site is classified depends not only on its historical value today, but also upon its significance and what it represented in earlier periods of time," said Lee Tsung-nan (李宗南), director of the Anping Cultural Foundation.

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