Monday, January 16, 2012

Dining with Ambassadors

    On our final night in Bangladesh, Scholastica, SPEED, and Worldsavvy threw the American Bangladeshi Youth Leadership Program (ABYLP) participants a Farewell Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony had a really incredible turnout with very notable speakers; the American Ambassador to Bangladesh, a representative from the UN, and member of Bangladesh's Parliament addressed the students of Bangladesh and the US.  They discussed the importance of "building bridges" and working in solidarity with one another when addressing the very real issue of climate change, and all the relative issues stemming from it. The most moving quote came of the night came from the Parliament guy, who said about global climate conferences, "we are now a hundred boats sitting in a harbor. We must become one big cruise ship, and instead have a hundred cabins, and perhaps have a team of skippers to lead the way." I agreed with the analogy a bit. We really do need to think as one, as we are all affected by rising sea levels, increasing natural disasters, and global economy failure. :)
   I also truly loved hearing from four very talented and articulate students about the exchange: Sharhan, Natasha, Maeisha, and Edward.  They spoke about the Service Learning Projects, the culture shock from both sets of students, and the little moments that made us into a really weird family, rather than simply a group of passionate students from across the world.
   Did I mention there was a ton of press? I've never seen that many cameras going off in one place at so many times all throughout one evening! I later learned that the film crew that got footage of me quietly conversing with Sumaita at our dinner table was sent to 5 different stations and we were shown almost as often as the US Ambassador was. Not to mention the mentioning and full-group photo on Page 2 of the next morning's Daily Star issue. Yeah, that was shocking and crazy and wonderful and insane and weird and groovy and foreign and familiar and cool and...
    ... I'm back. Sorry about that.
     The entire night was made even crazier by the fact that a testimonial I had written for the exchange program had gotten blown up onto a banner, hung to the left of the stage where they were passing out certificates during the ceremony.  The honor I felt made me miss my teachers at FAIR Downtown like mad. I especially missed Mr. E, my 9th grade Civics teacher. He was the one who had forwarded the heaven-sent email to me back when I was a freshmen looking for study abroad programs. I feel I owe him big time, needless to say, for finding this opportunity. The testimonial reads:

 "The experience of meeting new faces and seeing fascinating places in Bangladesh has increased my global empathy and my understanding of the environment exponentially. I feel like this trip has been such a gift, one that I will work the rest of my life to repay. What an unforgettable experience this has been and continues to be."
     So, in case if you were wondering whether I would recommend this program to open-minded, passionate students and educators for next year or not, there's your answer. 


 Dan W. Mozena, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, his wife, and the lovely Sumaita


No comments:

Post a Comment