The Lineup: our presentation day (Xu Zecheng, China, ITP 2024)

Written by Xu Zecheng, Cultural Exchange Officer, Shanghai Museum (China, ITP 2024)

‘I’m so stressed.’ Heba Alders whispered, clutching her notes as she approached me during the lunch. Chaoxiang, right to me, intensely scrolled through his phone for some words, muttering lines he had just written down. The two bacon sandwiches I swallowed ten minutes ago settled in my stomach, only to make me feel sluggish and forgetful about my slides.

Photograph of a man speaking to a seated audience.

It was 9th July, the presentation day of ITP 2024. It was a little nerve-wracking for some of us fellows. But despite the initial jitters, the greetings, laughs and applauses that echoed through the Sloane Room, even amidst the pouring rain outside, made it a warm, encouraging, and inspiring space where minds were free to talk about themselves and learn about each other. Everyone did a fantastic job and truly impressed in their own unique way beyond their professional practices. Tatiana touched everyone’s hearts with her message of ‘togetherness’ and sign-language tutorial. Tarisson was the most stylish guy in the room with his signature indigenous headdress. Heba Hassan’s caramel voice turned the place into an opera house. Globetrotters like Sofia, Pinky, and Holly shared their journeys of life driven by passion. And – Hakuna Matata! The diversity displayed by all the fellows through the presentations reflects the rich stories of backgrounds, talents, and perspectives that each one brings to the group. It not only enhanced the connections between us but also fostered a deeper understanding of the world we live in.

Photograph of a busy pub interior.

And that was an experience even beyond what I have been looking forward to since I got enrolled in the ITP. Working as a cultural exchange coordinator at the Shanghai Museum in China, I’m always inspired by the way communication and networks break the walls and boost mutual understanding and connections between cultures. It has been a powerful reminder that cultural exchange isn’t just about showcasing differences, but about celebrating the richness of human experience across the globe. The chats with UK partner representatives and BM colleagues – and the spontaneous kitchen party late that night – only got me hyped for more stories and explorations coming up next.

Photograph of a group of people, each holding a postcard towards the camera

Now, I’ll pass the baton to our next blogger, Jose Tarisson Coast da Silva Nawa, a collaborating curator at the National Museum of Brazil and PhD student at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Deeply connected to his ancestral land in the Amazon, he is passionate about indigenous peoples and retelling their stories via journalism and documentation. He will definitely have a lot to share on our first department day. Stay tuned!