Volunteers selected to tell stories of Dunhuang frescoes

Ten volunteers have been selected by a special program to serve as guides at Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang for six weeks between May and June.

Ten volunteers have been selected by a special program to serve as guides at Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang for six weeks between May and June, organizers announced over the weekend at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The “Cultural Custodian Program” was jointly organized by the Dunhuang Academy, Dunhuang Grottoes Conservation Research Foundation and Shanghai Jiao University Culture Development Foundation, and is aimed at sending volunteers all over the world to protect and promote culture.

The grotto guide job at Dunhuang is the first project organized by the program.

More than 300 people from China and abroad applied for the project since it started in October last year, with the winning ten being chosen via the assessment of university museum curators and experts, as well as online votes.

They will receive training on basic knowledge about voluntary service and also the cultural background of the grottoes.

They will not only pass on this knowledge of Dunhuang to visitors, but they'll also try to be innovative by combining their own specialties with Dunhuang culture.

Zhao Yu, a 37-year-old Jiao Tong alumni and an expert in Internet of Things, said he would like to use the technology of IoT to better protect and promote Dunhuang culture.

Gu Jian, who has served in museums for eight years, said she hopes her service can help visitors better understand Dunhuang.

“Many visitors have told me that they actually could not quite understand the exhibitions without the help of docents (guides)," said the 41-year-old volunteer. “But with my service, they enjoyed the story of each exhibit and spent several hours appreciating the exhibits.”

When some of her friends heard that she was going to Dunhuang, they said that the grottoes were just dark caves not worthy of a visit.

“I hope I can use my expertise in telling the stories behind the frescoes to make them fall in love with Dunhuang, and possibly join in our efforts in protect the site and promote its culture,” Gu said.

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