Local Guides come from all over the world, and they form a community of people who share their knowledge on Google Maps—everything from photos and reviews of local restaurants to accessibility information.
And for one long-distance couple, the Local Guides community helped bridge the miles between Malaysia and Bangladesh. Sumaiya Zafrin Chowdhury and Pavel Sawar got married in 2013 and became Local Guides in 2015. Nine months ago, Pavel moved to Malaysia to study information technology, and Sumaiya stayed in Bangladesh to pursue her career as an entrepreneur, community leader and social worker.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re spotlighting this Local Guides love story. We spoke to Sumaiya and Pavel about how they enjoy the community together, and how Local Guides helps them stay connected while they’re apart.
Tell us where it all began: how did you meet?
Pavel: I first saw Sumaiya at a social work event in 2012…first look, fell in love. One day I went to visit a slum, and saw her there serving underprivileged people. I am fascinated by her work.
You’ve been apart for nine months. How do you make a long-distance relationship work?
Sumaiya: I went to Malaysia twice and we had great fun together. We discovered many places. We try to meet every three months. We manage our relationship through social media, especially via video call and chatting through Google Hangouts. We share songs and pictures also.
When you’re in the same place, what are your favorite things to do together?
Pavel:Sumaiya and I love to travel very much. As Local Guides, we also love to arrange meet-ups together and do social work and community activities.
So you connect over Local Guides together?
Sumaiya:Yes, we use Local Guides community and Maps to plan activities and date nights. Sometimes, we celebrate our special days through mapping. We plan to visit new places and compare our points. Mapping and meet-ups are our favorite part.
Pavel: Every day we discuss Local Guides. When Sumaiya arranges a meet-up, I try to help her. When I arrange one Sumaiya helps me lot. We discuss our contributions, photo views, quality reviews, etc. Local Guides helps us to spend more time together. Local Guides makes our relationship closer.
Why did you both decide to join Local Guides?
Pavel:Personally I love traveling, taking photos, and eating at different restaurants. As a traveler and explorer, I use Google Maps almost every day. I love to discover new places and I love to take photos. With Local Guides, I can help any other travelers also. I feel I am helping people in my community. Local Guides are like my family. It’s now part of my life.
Sumaiya: Pavel introduced me to Local Guides back in 2015. I joined in March 2015 because I love technology, traveling and photography. With Local Guides, I can do something positive for my society; that's why I was interested to join.
We recently did a post about seven kinds of Local Guides. Which ones do you identify with?
Pavel: The Visualist and the Trailblazer.
Sumaiya: I identify as a Fact Hunter because I want all to know real information about a place…and Trailblazer because I love to discover and add new places.
For those that are new to Local Guides, what advice do you have for someone just getting started?
Pavel: First, spend some quality time on Local Guides Connect. See how others in the community are doing. Arrange meet-ups. Please contribute on Local Guides to be a good citizen. Don’t focus on points.
Sumaiya:Upload proper pictures in proper places. Post useful and informative reviews that one can easily understand. Do meet-ups so that people can know about this community. And for the people of my own country, I want to advise them: please contribute more, add new places, and do your best reviews so that tourists can understand that our country is very beautiful.
What do you appreciate most about each other?
Sumaiya: Pavel is very punctual. This is the part of his character I like the most. He’s also a very trustworthy and hard-working person. He is very caring…he always supports me and appreciates my work.
Pavel: I can’t appreciate Sumaiya in a single sentence. Sumaiya is not only a good wife, she is also a good mentor for me. She gives support to me for my every good work. Without her I am nothing.