Hello! My name is Raj and I am a full-time Linguistics student and part-time gallery attendant at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Having grown up in Hertfordshire, I was always familiar with Cambridge. I remember exploring the streets with my mum as a child, completely in awe of the sights and sounds. I knew then that I wanted to make Cambridge my home and having studied here for two years now, I am still completely in love with everything it has to offer.
Before I start discussing volunteering and the museums in Cambridge I would like to tell you a little about myself. I have a passion for all things related to language, but my favourite field of research within linguistics is discourse analysis. When I’m not busy studying I enjoy playing video games, visiting new coffee shops, cross-stitching, reading comic books and taking care of my bonsai.
During my first semester I decided to visit the various Cambridge University Museums, especially since they are free and open on most days (http://www.cam.ac.uk/museums-and-collections/visit-us for more information on specific opening times). That is how I came to know the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA); having decided to visit in between lectures with a friend one day. The welcoming environment as we arrived, the unanticipated beauty of the upper floors and the vast collections convinced me in an instant that I wanted to volunteer there.
Over a year has passed since I originally began volunteering with MAA and the experience has been simply wonderful. Working closely within a supportive and interesting team I learnt more about the objects we house and have had the opportunity to get involved with various outreach programs throughout Cambridge such as ChYpPS, Summer at the Museums, Cambridge Festival of Ideas and Twilight at the Museums.
These outreach events have been one of the most rewarding work experiences for me, they are a unique opportunity to challenge misconceptions regarding museums and the type of audience we expect. I have found that Cambridge University museums welcomes everyone to get involved and explore the collections. As a city we are lucky to be so diverse and with an ever-growing interest from visitors to the UK, it is vital that the museums promote the collections, sharing the beauty and vibrancy of them. These outreach activities are a great chance to do just that, and when combined with social networking websites more people than ever are aware of upcoming events and activities.
Further aiding accessibility it is important to recognise that volunteers help to keep the museums free and open to all, something that I feel passionately about. We are lucky in Cambridge to have seven University Museums that do not charge an entry fee and who regularly host activities for all. I would recommend volunteering to everyone, even with just four hours a week you can find a museum in Cambridge that could really benefit from your help!