VIPs

Today has been extraordinary. Adrenaline, excitement and pride. Overcome by emotion, keeping going and carrying on – and realising that the reason why I am doing it all, is because I want to get it right for these children, for the people and communities we are entrusted to inspire. And that’s such a huge thing – a privilege and a responsibility – and hard to think about, and hard to write about without raising lots of questions…

I’ve prepared for today more than I would for any academic conference, any MA lecture, any training course for museum professionals, even actually for my PhD viva. Loose preparation, willing to change at any movement.

The reason why… 180 VIPs from West Earlham Infant School in Norwich. It had to be right. I don’t know if it was right, but I think it was ok. It worked I think.

What amazing children.

I’m still settling in here. I don’t know the city yet. I don’t know its politics. But I know that this was for these children. And thank you to all my colleagues at the Sainsbury Centre who knew this and suggested it. All credit – and so much more – to the children – Reception, Y1 and Y2. I’ve never done an assembly for infants. I’ve never really even led a workshop session for this age-group.

Yet they were that wonderful mix – of being utterly excited, yet utterly well-behaved – enthusiastic and full of ideas and questions. We talked about the queen, about Fiji and its objects, about the Sainsbury Centre, and about why the queen loved Fiji, and why she was here today. We passed Fijian objects around, and looked at Fijian coins. We talked about corgis and pets. The queen was the official VIP, but it was actually the children who were the real VIPs. The pride in the crowns and flags and banners and chains they’d made said it all.

My favourite comment of the day was when someone asked the Mayoress if she was a pirate. What an amazing question. (And yes, she did look a bit like one and offered her pirate hat to one of the pupils, plonking it on their head!) The children all answered questions, asked new ones… They met new people, interacted with the student ambassadors, walked through crowds, answered news reporter questions, saw students cheering, saw students still in pyjamas, walked through the whole campus.

This (campus – or new experiences – or asking questions) is for you. One day soon. Now.

An absolute credit to their teachers and families.
I feel slightly emotional about it, but this feels like a direction… so impossible to evaluate or quantify… There’s something about an ethical imperative here.

Learning is for everyone.
It opens doors. It opens imaginations. It opens.

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