Beyond Borders Festival 2006 – Bangladesh: Love. Live. Express.
In short, the festival was incredible, the sights were lovely, the experience was mind-opening and the BB people were nothing short of fantabulous.
Day 1: The Opening Ceremony.
The opening ceremony was held at the Dhaka Sheraton, the President of Bangladesh Dr. ajuddin Ahmed was in attendance. The event received attention from national media.
The icebreaking session paved way for introductions to be made to international CGMs from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka along with the two core groups in Bangladesh from Dhaka and Mymensing.
As part of the national language week celebrations, Dhaka was buzzing with activity – all the festival participants took part in the book fair, along with hundreds of other Bangladeshis.
Discussion: We and Beyond Borders in 2025
Sheetal, and Nipuni participated on behalf of the Sri Lankan Core Group. It was a nice little concept, where we were asked to put out our thoughts on how beyond borders would be in 2025. The views were diverse, especially since the Sri Lankan team thought the topic was ‘we and beyond borders in 2005!’ and prepared to give a presentation of our activities.
The first of the debates seemed to be quite interesting, it was all in Bengali. The topic was ‘emotions vs. rationality through eminent personalities’ people played various characters, including Hitler!.
The second topic was a dual battle between two young debaters on the topic of ‘ If I were Prime minister’ audience was given the opportunity to ask questions, which were kind of fun.
Visit to the ‘Geneva Camp’
Undoubtedly the high point of the festival, we were impressed at how Bangladeshi CGMs tackled a highly sensitive issue, head on. The ‘Geneva camp’ is inhabited by urdu-speaking people who don’t have the right to Bangladeshi citizenship. During the Bangladeshi liberation struggle, it is said the Urdu-speaking people supported what was then, west-pakistan and therefore most Bangladeshi’s are indifferent towards them.
The urdu-speaking people themselves want to return to Pakistan, but the issue is largely ignored by both Pakistani and Bangladeshi government, now they are reduced to this camp where they do not have access to government-funded education and no access to credible employment since they are not Bangladeshi citizens
It was an amazing and an eye-opening experience, what’s heartening to note is that recently the Bangladeshi supreme courts have ruled that young generation born after liberation of Bangladesh DOES have right to citizenship, and their citizenship will be restored soon.
BB CGMs work with the association of young-generation of Urdu-Speaking people, giving them life skills training, in communication, etc. they hope to incorporate some of the members into the BB core group soon. Kudus to the BB Core group for tackling this sensitive issue head on.
Sightseeing included a visit to the tomb of The founding president of Bangladesh, the water shows and the parliament buildings were wonderful.
Mother Language Day walk
The walk was in commemoration of the Mother Language Day, the walk started at about 5 in the morning in which Beyond Borders along with scores of other people made a symbolic walk to Shaheed Minar, few Sri Lankan CGMs got the opportunity to lead the walk.
The walk gave much needed exposure of Bangladeshi culture, and its history. The route took us past many symbolic structures which represented the history of Bangladesh and the liberation struggle of Bangladesh.
Back to the British council
There were few programmes organized, such as an art competition for the kids and a short film on independence.
Democracy Watch is the NGO which partnered with British Council for Beyond Borders in Bangladesh, at the premises the participants got to work with the kids, with whom BB Bangladesh work with. The interaction sessions were fun, and the international participants in particular managed to keep the kids engaged at all times.
Visit to the liberation museums was informative, another movie on independence was also screened, however these were sensitive issues which made the Pakistani participants in particular a bit uneasy, it was the general opinion of the international participants that there should more consideration on such issues, however it’s all part and parcel of experimenting with coexistence and multiculturalism.
Day 4: Workshops
The workshops sessions were fun; there was diversity of topics chosen, from theatre to mask making, public speaking and creative writing.
The afternoon session consisted few more workshops on HIV/AIDS and ‘equality & citizenship’.
The session broke away to a quizzing session, an attempt to promote interaction between the participants which turned out to be highly entertaining.
The evening then broke away for international presentations on projects taken up by the core groups of Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan and also presentations on projects conducted in Bangladesh by Dhaka and Mymensing core groups.
The closing ceremony included performances by a few kids, from the project and a show by fire-dances. International participants were asked for reflections on the whole festival. The Bangladeshi minister of education along with the representatives from British council as well as DemocracyWatch spoke.
Day 5: Trip
The final destination was Gazipur, and action project location of Beyond Borders where they have set up and help sustain a youth recreational centre for the local community.
On the way we visited a few clinics for differently-able people, projects BB Bangladesh have been involved in with.
The trips were fun especially getting out of the hectic Dhaka.
The final summit discussion was held in Gazipur.
The experience was wonderful, the friendships made it seem are everlasting, the whole festival was just brilliant.
Posted on 03/09/2006, in Bangladesh, Events-Activities-Announcements, Festival, HIV/AIDS, India, Kids, Pakistan, Sex - Sexuality - Gender, Sri Lanka, Theatre, Youth-Culture-Society. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.