Interview with India Burchell
What do you do in your role working with London’s Access and Learning Team?
I help with school groups who come in to do different activities. These cover history and science and a wide age range. I usually help to meet the school and with different parts of the activities, up to three per day. Occasionally I have led part of the activity, with the support of an Access and Learning member. I have also written blog posts, created a children’s trail and been involved with the opening day of temporary exhibition ‘Defying Gravity’.
What aspects of the role do you enjoy most?
I enjoy the fun nature of the role. Every day is different and I like meeting so many school children of all ages. I enjoy the activities because I think that they are interesting and exciting to take part in! I also like doing a range of tasks both with children and in the office; for example, I enjoy writing the blog posts and doing research. The team are so friendly and helpful which makes every day great.
What have you learnt whilst in the role?
I have firstly learnt more about aeroplanes, helicopters, the Royal Air Force and both World Wars. Before I started at the Royal Air Force Museum my knowledge wasn’t as good and my interest in the topics has definitely increased since volunteering here. I have experienced the daily life of the ALD team and gained presentation skills through watching the team animatedly teach the activities. I have also acquired technological abilities by uploading my blog posts and developing instructions to help other volunteers. When I was helping with the temporary exhibition ‘Defying Gravity’, I practiced key organisational and interpersonal proficiency through thought-provoking tasks.
How do you feel you have developed during at your time at the Museum?
My confidence has developed hugely, mainly in terms of engaging with school children and visitors and in communicating information to them such as showing the Grahame White Watch Office. I feel that my ability to come up with an idea and to share it has increased. Any task that I have finished and asked for feedback, the team have been supportive and helped me to learn. My understanding of the ways that museums work has also improved.
What would you have to say to someone who is considering volunteering for the Museum?
I would say that volunteering at the museum offers so many different opportunities and tasks to take part in; it is a fun, welcoming, fulfilling place to be. Do not be worried about instantly knowing everything at once, because your knowledge can develop over time. The friendliness of the staff means that if you have any problems or questions they can help you and are understanding. The museum can find a role which suits you and your interests as there are so many different areas to volunteer in. I find that each day is exciting and I have hugely enjoyed my time at the museum.
Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself?
Although I am going away to study a Master’s degree in Museum Studies at the University Of Toronto in Canada starting in September, I will really miss the museum and the staff. My time at the museum has gone fast and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ll keep in touch and hopefully come back one day!