Jewish Tour Guide
It all started when my friend Daniel from JeruLita Travel asked me if I would be interested in becoming part of the JeruLita team as a tour guide. I knew Hebrew well, was born in Vilnius, and I decided to give the training a go.
Though I know Vilnius well, it really took me a while to get ready to represent my city to a foreigner. I went on a tour with a founder of JeruLita – Yulik, this helped a lot, as I saw what should be done. I dived into books on the history of Vilnius and Lithuania. It was an exciting beginning of my own journey into the Jewish-Litvak world. The more I read, the more fascinating the world reveals itself to be.
I was a manager of a small hotel, quite happy where I was, but at the same time the offer was tempting. I could not understand why… Yes, here it is – I have made my first money by being а councilor of youth movement. So I wanted to try myself in a different field.
I do not recollect much about my first tour, besides the fact that my clients were happy; they expressed it in an open, grateful way, and I felt suddenly that here I can get also positive feedbacks every day. So I have made a change and become a licensed guide.
Why I Love Guiding Tours
I like meeting new people on our guided tours. Vilnius and other places with old streets, houses, history, culture and jokes are the same, but every time you meet different people and they make our work diverse and interesting.
I like constantly learning during our excursions. People ask questions, and this encourages me and sometimes even forces me to learn new things all the time. Questions can be about absolutely unexpected fields and this broadens my horizon. When I was a “young guide,” I was afraid to answer that I do not know… not the best feeling… while today I am self-confident and I can tell people that I do not know the answer. This means that I will learn something new that day.
I like being outside. Sixty to seventy percent of time spent on Tours and Excursions in the Baltic states are spent outside and with people who come to rest and enjoy. It makes the atmosphere fresh, positive and inspiring. We walk a lot and it keeps all us fit and healthy.
I like the idea of presenting my heritage to people. As someone once said –“ be an ambassador of your country” and I fully agree with it. In my work, I present history, heritage, folklore, culture, cuisine and other things. It makes my work very meaningful to me and, as a consequence, to my guests.
I love my job, I am well-paid, I do what I know how to do! It keeps me going!
William Zhitkauskas guides the following tours: