Grace Macharia goes from Nairobi to NBH

Grace Macharia on set of The One Show Grace Macharia visits the set of The One Show

Grace Macharia, a production assistant from Nairobi, got the opportunity of a lifetime when she was offered a chance to come to London for a series of workshops organised through BBC Media Action. Here, she reflects her experiences, including braving the wintry weather and getting on the right bus going in the wrong direction.

When I joined the BBC's international development charity, BBC Media Action, just nine months ago, I didn't expect it to have such a profound effect on me.

As a production assistant on a radio and TV debate programme called Sema Kenya, I hoped my work would help my fellow Kenyans to ask questions of their leaders and encourage constructive debate before this month's elections.

But I wasn't prepared for how the programme would leave a much more indelible mark.

Sema Kenya - which means 'Kenya speaks' in Swahili - has given me the opportunity to travel, not only through my own beautiful country but much further afield.

The undisputed highlight of my year so far has been a trip to London for a Media Action creativity and innovation workshop called Ignite.

Only days after taking part in Kenya's historic ballot at the beginning of March, I set off to visit London for the very first time. I didn't know what to expect and nothing could have prepared me for coming out of the airport - it was freezing cold.

Grace in snow The cold weather provided Grace with an excuse to shop for new clothes

But I was too excited to let it ruin my experience and that evening I was taken to shop for warm clothes - and had my first taste of London life.

My goodness, do people in London walk fast. It's no surprise with the sub-zero temperature chasing you everywhere you go. But in the five days I was in London, I experienced snow, hail and rain. And then on the last day the sun came out.

'Creativity and culture'

The Ignite workshop took place at the Southbank Centre and was a cauldron of creativity and culture.

I was sitting at a table discussing ideas with colleagues from places such as the Palestine Territories, India, Nepal and Sierra Leone. I listened to some amazing projects; it made me feel so proud to be part of an organisation that was doing so much around the world.

We also had the opportunity to listen to speakers from across the BBC and elsewhere, including finding out about Google's augmented reality glasses.

It was particularly interesting to hear how BBC Media Action's Bangladeshi team are using Call The Midwife as a springboard to make a programme of their own about maternal and child health.

Bus blues

After the Ignite sessions, my new found friends and I went out to discover the expensive streets of London. It was interesting to observe how the streets were lined with fashion and food stores and many theatres.

You also can't help but notice just how organised things are - people follow traffic rules and actually wait for the 'green man', with buses only stopping in designated areas.

This was something we learned the hard way when, after a three-hour wait on the wrong side of the road, we boarded the right bus heading in the wrong direction. When we asked for help, it turned out everyone was a foreigner too. In Kenya a tout would have been hanging from the door, yelling the direction of the bus and for how much.

It was also amazing to see the several BBC offices. I was especially blown away by the sheer magnitude of New Broadcasting House. I was also very inspired to witness a live broadcast of The One Show. With my background in TV production, I was amazed at just how relaxed all of the production team were.

I love what I do because each week is a new adventure. Coming to London for Ignite was yet another in what I hope will be many more.

  • BBC Media Action uses media in developing countries to improve health, help people understand their rights and respond to humanitarian crises.

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