Day 1: Dhaka

Image courtesy Active Citizens website.

For the next week, I am blogging about my trip to Dhaka. So what am I doing here? A few weeks ago, I was one of 3 lucky people selected to represent the British Council and NCVYS (the National Council of Voluntary Youth Services) for an international study visit as part of the Active Citizens programme I am doing for the next few months. What is it? In a nutshell, Active Citizens is basically a programme that provides training to young people all over the world to engage with issues in the local communities and creating a network of these youth globally run by British Council (more details here) and has already reached 300,000 people.

So from 24 Nov – Dec 1st, myself and other young people from Bosnia & Herzegovina, India, U.K, Sri Lanka, Pakistan & Bangladesh are in Dhaka for a mixture of workshops, visits to communities and various projects around the area and debates. We will also be splitting into two groups halfway through to visit Syllhet & Rajshahi to see what is going on there but more on that in later posts.

British Council HQ in Dhaka

Our day today consisted mostly of getting to know each other, identifying what we want to get out of the week and each other as well as a visit to a local historical monument. We were also shown one of the projects that is run here by Shushilan – a cultural dance all about active citizens which told a story of the issues they were tackling all done through dance which was really interesting. They even got us all to dance and join in too which was fun!

The dance showed the value harvesting rainwater in many different ways to re-use for sustainable livelihoods. The picture being held up behind was a storyboard depicting the story of the dance being performed.

The people here are very friendly and welcoming and the hustle and bustle of Dhaka reminds me very much of India. Driving to the hotel from the airport you could get a real sense of the rapid growth that is happening here, as new buildings and skyscrapers begin to tower the skyline amidst a sea of people going about their daily lives.

Each country set up their own ‘stall’, showcasing what issues they are tackling in their communities and how. We only had 20 mins to prepare but some of them were really creative!

Active Citizen’s from Pakistan showing off their campaigns – after flying in just hours earlier from Dubai. Both very inspirational guys, and I’ve only briefly spoken to them! Can’t wait to get to know them better and see what they’re upto. 

Haven’t been sure what to expect to be honest and so I am doing my best to keep an open mind and just absorb as much as I can. It is great to be around such vibrant and passionate like minded people though, they are all doing amazing work in their communities – I might do a little feature of each country in a later post because there’s so much to showcase.

Ashleigh delivering a high energy presentation showing how the UK’s political system works – I got to play the PM!

Leave it here for now. Wanted to keep it very short and simple. Haven’t caught up on sleep yet, spent most of last night having the most amazing conversation with a fellow volunteer about everything from education to voluntary work and life generally, so I have a lot of sleep to catch up on. Tomorrow we are visiting the Jaago foundation, which I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing all about – illiteracy is a HUGE problem here as 40% of the population are illiterate.

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One response to “Day 1: Dhaka

  1. Also, how could I forget to mention this??!

    Story of the day:

    We’re out and about in Dhaka, obviously sticking out & getting stares as we’re in a big group. Cute little street kid comes up to me, must have been about 4 years old and is hustling me hard to buy some sweets from him. I start talking to him in Hindi and so he thinks I speak Bengali and starts trying even harder, pulling and grabbing onto my t-shirt. I was wearing this t-shirt with lots of shiny sequins on and he notices, stops and immediately starts trying to rip them off because he thought they were actually real rubies or diamonds lol! So I decided to stand there and let him pick a few off for a good couple of minutes. After securing a few gems, he skipped off with such a HUGE grin on his face. Priceless. Can’t wait for what tomorrow brings!

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