GATN Site Managers Training in Chiang Mai

Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs held 2018 GATN Managers Training in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 1st~5th May 2018.

This time Site Managers from Myanmar, Cambodia, Pangasinan (Philippines), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Taichung (Taiwan) YMCA joined the training. We are now on to our 5th year of the GATN project. Each year, the APAY organises a special advanced training workshop for our GATN programme managers. This Workshop is part of a series of programmes planned to provide further training for Program Managers from YMCAs that were offering alternative tourism programs and those who were planning to host such alternative tourism programs. It is hoped that this workshop will contribute to help strengthen the implementation of CHANGE principles within our alternative tourism programmes.

The main objectives of the Training Program were to:
    i) Discuss current issues and trends in alternative tourism.
   ii) Develop skills in developing alternative tourism sites.
   iii) Develop marketing strategies for Alternative Tourism.

The training for this year focused on Site Evaluations, which is part of the preparation for the GATN external evaluation that will take place towards the end of the year. At the training, KL YMCA shared their experience of GATN tie-up with AirBnB's Social Impact Experience. This was an exciting development and it could be a good platform for some members of our GATN network to explore and develop. also discussed YMCA world council exhibition. learn more about.

On the first day of training, opened valuable time with opening worship by host YMCA and site managers spent the whole day to share reports their GATN sites. Based on ‘CHANGE’ principle, site managers self-evaluated their GATN site and programs during last 5 years and shared how it affected communities, participants and the YMCA’s aspects. Through this session, participants could learn from the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s GATN sites.

On the second day, we visited and evaluated Chiang Mai YMCA GATN site ‘Tha Nuea village’. Chiang Mai YMCA has been working with Tha Nuea village for 10 years. Four other nearby Tha Nuea village also joined together YMCA in this community work. Village leaders shared that, through GATN, host families and participants learned from each other through village volunteer work through the homestay program. Working closely together, YMCA and village community learned about climate change and carried out a water preservation project. They also worked on an organic farm and produced handicraft for their source of sustainable income. These projects were also tied up with their another youth empowerment program to prevent drug abuse among young people in the villages. GATN managers were able to confirm the positive developments in the village arising from GATN program. The most memorable words from the leader of the village was “we work with warm heart and trust”.

Continuing from the site reports and site evaluation in previous two days, site managers developed an evaluation checklist to be shared with other site managers not at this training. The groups discussed deeply the basis and purpose of GATNT, the importance of the CHANGE principles, how we strengthen our work with the community, etc. In relation to preparing for site evaluation, site managers also emphasized the need to focus on training and evaluation for YMCAs from sending countries.

Kuala Lumpur YMCA as invited to share their experiences on the tie-up of GATN with the Social Impact Experience (SIE) of AirBnB. The SIE can be a useful platform to introduce GATN short-term program. Through this platform, local YMCA can share their GATN program through the online tool and provide 3~5 hours short time program to the visitors who has limited time but would like to spend it in a meaningful way. This can also be quite a novel way to introducing GATN movement to the public. Kuala Lumpur YMCA has signed up for this SUE- AirBnB. In the last session of managers training we discussed plans and preparation for the GATN Marketplace that will be held during the World Council. GATN will have two booths at the World Council Exhibition where we will have a photo exhibition of GATN activities in the AP region. We will also make a common brochure pocket to introduce GATN sites around the AP region.

In conclusion, it was indeed precious 3 days for GATN managers from receiving and sending countries. Through the sharing and evaluation, and looking back on the past of GATN, most of them shared about next step of GATN as a movement not just as a program. We believe we can take a step forward together for the sustainable community through global alternative tourism and we believe we will move forward with APAY network.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   - Jiyoon LEE, APAY GATN Intern

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