My name is Rebecca Njeri Gachihi, your Past Participant Facilitator ITP 2016.
More about me is available on the blog here.
My plane touched down at Heathrow at twelve minutes past six on Sunday the 26th June 2016. The weather on my screen said 0 degrees F and I quietly reached for my coat in disappointment, given that this was partly a plot to run away from the recently arrived ‘winter’ in Nairobi. I thanked God for the safe journey and disembarked. There he was, a gentleman well groomed and ready to receive me with a placard was waiting and smiled cautiously when he saw me approach. I introduced myself and, him taking my trolley off my hands, despite me insisting that I was alright, off we went. Rarely do I get treated to this high level reception so this reminded me of the first day I came to London in 2010. It was a beautiful nostalgic feeling and my heart raced at the thought of the warmth that awaited me with the International Training Programme team. Not to mention that I was already using the driver’s phone to respond to Emma who chose to ensure that I was safe in my flat on this drizzling Sunday morning. It dawned on me how lucky I was to be coming to the BM again after last year when I attended the staff breakfast, and then when I was blessed to attend the Mumbai workshop in November 2015.
Before I knew it, the taxi turned right and pulled over outside my accommodation. This beautiful flat became home. Following instructions, I let myself in to the building and on trying to open the door, I heard a voice that almost startled me. I wondered if I was opening the wrong door, then soon a voice called my name and I knew Topy was home. I was too exhausted to do anything so slept for the better part of the day.
27th June was my first day at the British Museum. My flatmate Topy and I left the flat around 8am. It was quite unfortunate that I did not have an Oyster card and a kind attempt by Topy to have me on her card failed terribly. I went back to the flat and wrote to Emma who quickly sent me a taxi, my arrival at the main gate and seeing Emma waving at me on the other side was all needed. I was home. Orientation began at once, staff passes, keys, health and safety, introductions and general induction. In a short meeting we had an overview of the programme and expectations were done with before lunch with Emma, Topy and Shezza. Claire had baked a chocolate cake that we had shortly after eleven so I could not clear my plate. My afternoon was spent looking through 2016 participants’ profiles. I also took time to visit the Korea Galleries. I found the galleries very informative, interesting and well done with not too many objects. For once I wished I could disobey the rules and enter the Sarangbang (A gentleman’s room). The house is so well done and the detail on the roofing is amazing.
In the evening, something special was lined up at the BP lecture theatre, the Members’ Lecture: Introducing Hartwig Fischer the new Director for the British Museum. It was a thought provoking lecture that left the fully booked theatre wowing at this scholar’s approach. He was able to connect the little pieces of information that are scattered all over the humongous collection in this Museum into one. He was not only able to bring into his presentation the statistics on what can be found here but took to highlight the roles played by each individual working in the Museum’s spaces and more so, the visitor who comes to ‘harvest’ what is available in this Museum of the world for the world. I was particularly touched by his referral to the Museum as not only the place for hospitality for the visitor who come in their tens of thousands, but where objects that have, in different circumstances, lost their world find new meaning. He closed by emphasising that it was this sharing that guaranteed the future.