A love for learning and the VSA
Next week is my official first week as the Secretary for Visitor Studies Association. I joined the board in an interim capacity in December and I am excited to now join the group in this official capacity. The Visitor Studies Association has meant so much to me, both in a professional capacity and also as a piece of my personal identity. As I entered the field, I was nervous. I didn’t know anyone else who was interested in studying and improving the visitor experience. I hoped that others would also find value in the work I was doing. That first VSA cemented my love for learning more about why and how people engage with us – I found a home in VSA. Since, I’ve continued to look for ways to get involved in the community, make contributions, and meet people that share my values.
Over the years, I have continued to increase my involvement with VSA, becoming more connected to the community through the ZAFIG interest group, publishing in the Visitor Studies journal, attending webinars, and hosting conference sessions. Attending webinars has been great for my professional development and a great way to network. While I was in England for several years, and unable to physically attend the Visitor Studies conferences each year, I was able to continue to engage with the community through webinars like the ‘Representing Diversity: Advocating for Inclusive Development’ and Evaluation session.
Professional development to me isn’t just about learning something new, which of course I have done through VSA, but it’s also about building relationships with others and contributing to the community. So, when I heard that VSA needed an interim Secretary for the board, I decided to apply and felt fortunate to be welcomed right away. I have enjoyed working behind the scenes supporting the organization. I am particularly excited to continue to support the organization in the coming year. I hope to find additional ways to support the professional development working group, including ways to support connections between new members and those who have been involved for many years. I have met so many wonderful community members through VSA. Our community has been welcoming and supportive since my first time attending. I might only have met you in the elevator, with my former dog Chase, on my way down for a quick walk before the morning’s keynote. At a conference dining discussion. Or perhaps, you were one of the adventurous individuals who took advantage of a VSA social event. The connections I have made at VSA influence my career every day.
There are so many ways to be involved in the Visitor Studies Association – by hosting or attending webinars, donating to the annual auction, joining a focused interest group, or participating in a working group. If you haven’t yet been, attending this year’s annual conference, July 13 – 15th, is a great way to begin to engage with the community. And if we haven’t yet met, please say hello during this year’s conference – I’ll be at each of the social hours!
Dr. Monae Verbeke
Director of Evaluation
Institute for Learning Innovation
Posted Jul 8, 2021