Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Orange Love

Last week marked the end of our first 7-week seminar as Access Academy teachers at AUW. My first group was classified as the 'orange group' and they were amazing! It was really rewarding and exciting to see the personal and academic transformations that happened in those 7 weeks! I miss them already but I just started teaching a new group of women and have no doubt that they will continue to amaze and wow me just the same as orange did. Of course, orange will always be special in my heart, as my first class at AUW.

Part of their final class presentation for my business leadership seminar required them to create a "writing on the wall," like the characters in Who Moved My Cheese, as inspiration and motivation for the assigned leadership topic. Here's how my future business leaders summed up our past 7 weeks of business leadership topics:

- Leadership Ethics: We should behave more ethically in order to be successful.
- Psychodynamic Approach: People can succeed by practicing and improving themselves.
- Transformational Leadership: Transformational leadership takes you forward.
- Culture and Leadership: To be successful as international leaders, we should know and respect others' culture and values.
- Women and Leadership: Do better than men!

standing: Soghra, Raha, Nishat, Fariya, Raiyanna, Nipa, Me, Nisa, Hakima, Jaba, Saika
kneeling: Tien, Thuy, Aaraby, Nima, Phungja

 fun photo :)

I am so proud of them!!!

A few of my favorite quotes from my students: (of course they all say cute things but these are a few that I remembered to write down!)
-- "Ma'am, Bangladesh has taken all your weight" (this comment came after my students saw a picture of me at my college graduation, which was 5 months after I moved to Germany) -- Saika
-- "You will always be our special teacher since you were our first...this is my first time away from home and my friends and family and you were there."  -- Raha
-- "After seeing your glasses today, I know that if I need them one day I must find this pair." -- Saika
-- "We miss your homeworks ma'am" -- all of them! every time I see them now that I am not their teacher

Monday, October 25, 2010

Durga Puja in Dhaka

A quick photo journey through our Durga Puja celebrations in Dhaka, October 15-17, 2010. Overall it was a great weekend with lots of new adventures and great memories!!

 National Monument for Martyrs - made possible thanks to Karin's friend's mom, Moni

 one of the most beautiful, peaceful spaces and monuments I've seen. it reminded me a lot of the memorial to murdered jews in europe in berlin. peaceful. reflective. open for interpretation.

 mastering 3 people in a rickshaw...for 1.5 hours on our way to a Bangladeshi rock concert!!

 Bangladeshi rock concert at the Sheraton! (Karin knew the guy on the far left). we arrived just in time for the last 3 or 4 songs!!

 first bus ride in Bangladesh!! real safe?! :)

busy streets of Dhaka

 stuck in traffic...everyday life in Dhaka - we were lucky - according to the locals, traffic wasn't as bad as usual

fresh Fuchka from a street vendor

 we sat in bright red plastic chairs devouring our spicy fuchka....and then debated our price with the vendor -- 20 or 40 taka...29 or 58 cents! gotta love the bangladeshi prices and our new bangladeshi attitudes! beshi! (too much!)

 our first temple of the day!

 we received many offerings throughout the day - from rice and veggies to michti and of course, coconut milk

 rollercoaster meets ferris wheel meets death trap?! in bangladesh...yet another memory to add to my book, "That would never happen in the US" (you can't really tell from the picture but this 'ride' is held together with ropes!! and yes, I did ride on it!)

 Hindu Street! lots of people, lights, shops, food, and small temples

burning the midnight oil - Bangladesh, the city that never sleeps

where do you go when there's no more space? up!

 our last temple celebration - the mayor is in the lower left corner of this photo

 our Durga Puja bandit, including a few random kids

after mastering 3 people in a rickshaw you graduate to 3 adults and 3 kids...fun times until they ate lunch with us and wanted to go home with us...hmmm

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Real Bangladesh

On Friday, October 8, myself and 2 other WorldTeach volunteers as well as 2 Access Academy teachers ventured out to Halishahar to shop at the big Aarong - and by big, I mean 2 stories of fair trade shalwar kameez outfits, ornas, house decorations, and more!! Little did we know, that we would get to experience the "real Bangladesh." Last week it rained several days in a row but we didn't feel any of the effects in our part of town. Not only did the streets not show any signs of flooding but a van from AUW transports us to/from school everyday and we are able to stay sheltered throughout the day thanks to the catwalks between buildings. As we neared the Aarong in Halishahar, we were suddenly confined to a very small section of the road, closet to the barrier in the middle of the road due to massive flooding. When we saw the Aarong our CNG pulled up next to a small part of a sidewalk - the only place he could reach due to the massive puddles. As we walked along the sidewalk we quickly saw that we would not be able to reach the front door of Aarong without wading through the water....so we hiked up our pants and waded through the water to go shopping at what is considered a designer store in Bangladesh. Finally, the Bangladesh I expected to encounter on a day-to-day basis!

 The water was deep even at the edges of the road

Fearless Richshaw Driver...we contemplated paying him 100 taka to take us 10 feet from one break in the sidewalk to the other, so that we could reach Aarong safe and dry

 Jamie (left) and Kristen testing out the water - the door to Aarong is right there on the left...so close, yet so far away!!

This is the Bangladesh I was expecting upon arrival! It is monsoon season after all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Teacher's Day

I have the best job in the whole world!! I love all my students! Two of my students made me cards for Teacher's Day :)

yes, that's a candy wrapper - Aaraby is sooo crafty!! 

 A card from Nima :) such beautiful drawings!

Chittagong Train Station

Nothing like a train station full of men waiting to buy tickets in the men-only lines on the first day tickets were available for Eid Break (5 days in advance). Off to the right corner there was a line with 5 or 6 women waiting to buy tickets. Upon our arrival we were quickly noticed and watched over (literally) by all armed-forces members working at the train station - we weren't certain who the threat was - us or them - but nonetheless, they got an up-close-and-personal view of the foreigners. When purchasing tickets each individual can only buy 4 tickets at a time, so Calynn, Trishna, and I waited patiently in line to purchase our 10 tickets. When it came time for the transaction we just stood there as the assistant from AUW (a male) handled our transaction. Clearly we were only needed to hold a place in the women's line and speed the process up (I can't imagine how long most of the men in the station had to wait for tickets - there were 100s). Upon returning to AUW we learned that there had been a mistake with our tickets and we were charged more because the ticket attendant had charged us for his mistake (he printed our tickets with a start destination of Dhaka instead of Chittagong...??? and then had to reprint them - costing us about $6)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mamun's Village

September 13, 2010 Upon return from our vacation in Sylhet and Srimangal we were invited to our friend's village for a belated Eid celebration - our friend, Mamun, is a waiter at our favorite restaurant, Tava - conveniently located across the street from our apartment. His brother-in-law picked us up outside our apartment in a nice van and we drove for about an hour while dancing to Hindi/Bollywood/Bangladeshi music and enjoying the views as we left Chittagong in the rear-view mirror (don't get me wrong, I love Chittagong but I'm more of a country/small-town girl!). Our day was very relaxed and mostly consisted of eating lots of food and drinking Cha with Mamun's family and friends. We found his family to be very welcoming and genuine. His village was the nicest of villages we've visited in Bangladesh although he kept apologizing about the status of his family. We weren't quite sure how to react to these comments but we assured him that we were overly happy to be visiting his village and continually reminded him how nice his village was - they had running water, several houses for the many families, and they were well educated - most of his family members spoke English (almost none of the locals from the other villages spoke English). This humility was was just another sign of his genuine friendship and hospitality. Our day started with snacks (fruits and michti - sweets) then a tour through a few homes as we made our way down to the beach, then a photo shoot prompted by one of Mamun's friends, a late lunch back at the village --- chicken, rice, dol, roti, curried eggs, etc., then more cha and talking then a trip down the Road of Temples before returning home. Here are pictures from the day - if only I could have captured the smells and sounds of the village as well :) Sweet, salt air and palm trees blowing in the breeze as a storm moved in....this was by far the best day I've had in Bangladesh upon arrival and have no doubt it will forever be my favorite memory of this country and a newly-formed friendship.

Mamun's village - taking a break :)

Walking out to the beach - gorgeous! the air even smelled of the salty beach :)

The group on the beach (Mamun's friends with Sara, Me, Michelle, Kristen, and Katie)

Mamun and I out by the beach

one of Mamun's friends insisted we have a photo shoot on the beach -- that's him behind us - coaching us :)

 walking through parts of the village on our way back for lunch

while we were chatting in the sitting area one of the women insisted the children were bothering us and sent them outside - only to pop up at the window :)

 Mamun and his family - so cute!

 after visiting Mamun's village we drove a few kilometers to the Road of Temples - after a short hike up a hill we were rewarded with great views of spectacular temples - and met these nice ladies who wanted a photo shoot with the Americans
the temple