Asslama! (Aymen Chihaoui, Tunisia, ITP 2023)

Written by Aymen Chihaoui, Director of Archaeological Enfidha Museum and Leader Habib Bourguiba Museum (Tunisia, ITP 2023)

Asslama! It’s me Aymen Chihaoui from Tunisia, and I am a Director of two museums: the Archaeological Enfidha Museum, and the Leader Habib Bourguiba Museum. “Aymen, prepare your documents and you will move to the U.K for the ITP programme”. At this sentence my adventure started. I was surprised, I even felt like time had stopped for a few days. When I returned to real life after that first email from Claire, I finally believed that I would go to the UK and, of course, the British Museum.

Aymen stood outside the British Museum

From my university study the British Museum was a dream for me to visit and thank God I have realized my dream. I arrived on 1st July and I met Ciprian, Amelia, and George to whom, by the way, I thank a lot, and of course Claire as well for everything they have done for us.

On Monday morning everyone was heading to the BM and I felt like I was realizing my dream, “Finally yes Aymen, you did it, you are in the BM!!!” Me and all the team were well welcomed by the BM staff. Ali, Elif, (both from Turkey) and I are working in the Greece and Rome Department with Thomas Kiely, a very gentle man who helps us a lot – many thanks to him and to all the members of his team in the department.

ITP fellows Ali Demirkiran, Elif Büyükgençoğlu, and Aymen Chihaoui with A.G. Leventis Curator of Ancient Cyprus, Greece, and Rome, Thomas Kiely in front of the River Thames

 Every day I go to BM before 10am, the time of opening for the public, with an open mind and without any plan set and start discovering the collection. The collection makes me not only remember my university studies but also think more deeply about being human. Walking between the galleries, I was surprised by the treasures coming from Tunisia. Yes, my country! The smallest country in surface, yet rich in civilization and still offers to humanity many precious things. The mosaics coming from Tunisia, which are well exhibited and well preserved, gave me the feeling that I am still in Tunisia.

Visiting other museums and meeting their teams is very important to learn more about different policies and to get ideas which will be helpful later when I am back in my museums. Thanks to the ITP I now have new colleagues and we have many discussions during the time we spend together. I cannot believe that two weeks have already gone!!!