I had an awesome weekend. Exhausting, somewhat tedious in parts, but overall generally awesome. Saturday was more tedious than anything else, as I spent nearly 5 hours photocopying and then assembling 70 copies of booklets and handouts. My hands are still cramping from stamping the organization's official stamp onto multiple types of receipts to be handed out for participation fees, annual fees, dinner/party ticket, publication sales... It was all preparation for the annual general meeting and conference of a national museum studies academic organization. My advisor was the incoming chief and therefore the host for the whole shebang.
Sunday dawned early as we had to set up the reception tables, upload powerpoint presentations, and the rest of the last minute preparations. I was powerpoint-girl, so I sat at the computer desk at the front of the room for the entire day (they forgot to send somebody in to swap with me, and kept apologizing at the dinner later!) and hit the button to advance to the next powerpoint slide for each of the presentations. I even got to do some fun things like checking off each point on the general meeting agenda as it was completed, highlighting the location for the post-conference party, and changing times (as the speakers invariably went overtime and we had to cut back break times).
I'm making fun of it, but it actually was a good deal of fun. I was very lucky to be powerpoint-girl since instead of running about doing photocopies and other random errands, I was one of only two student helpers (out of nearly a dozen) who actually got to listen to all of the presentations. As an added bonus, I was also at the front of the room, meaning that at the post-conference party I was a recognizable face (as if being the only foreigner wouldn't have been enough!) and made a number of valuable contacts as a result!
The best part of the weekend, however, was without a doubt meeting other graduate students in museum studies! While I do have a couple of friends here with a background in museum studies, and I do know a fairly good number of people in their 20s-30s who work in museums, I am the ONLY student at my university in museum studies, and this can be lonely. I didn't even know that there were more than a handful of us in the Tokyo area, so it was really exciting to see other members of my rare species! There were two guys who presented during the morning session, two girls who helped out with the registration desk, and another half-dozen or more who were either there or who I heard of through their professors. When I was asked to speak at the after-party I pitched my idea of forming a Tokyo-area museum studies grad student organization of some sort. The other students (to whom the idea had already been pitched) were enthusiastic, their professors were even more so (but they had been drinking more heavily, after all!). I'm hoping that we can arrange something where we could meet every month to share our research, discuss an article we've all read, or even just have a meal and be museum nerds together. It should be good fun and a great networking opportunity.
The past week has been a good one for this museum nerd. I've found other members of my species and, for that reason and a few others, I now feel anything but lonely!