Ashabul Khan

Mon May 25 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

43976A K

“In Dhaka during the early 2000s, cellphones, desktops, and the internet were luxuries. I spent my childhood watching TV and traveling to different parts of Bangladesh. My favorite companions were a volume of Britannica Encyclopedia and an Oxford Atlas. I loved watching CNN and National Geographic with my dad, learning about foreign lands. Despite living in Bangladesh, I wasn’t interested in our culture or history. All I knew about our history was what I read in textbooks to pass my exams and stories I heard from my parents.

Moving to America was a dream come true, an opportunity to explore a world beyond my limits. In high school, my Bengali friends and I clashed with our Pakistani friends over cricket, but sometimes it turned nasty when history and politics were brought up during friendly arguments. This was a turning point in my life. As a nephew of a freedom fighter, I wondered why I explored other countries when there’s so much I don’t know about my own. I started watching documentaries and reading books about Bangladesh. Every time I met someone over 50, I asked them about 1971. Every time I listened to their stories, I cried either tears of joy or tears of disappointment and anger. I started connecting with my country.

While I was in Hunter College I noticed that we don’t have any organization representing Bangladesh. Most Bangladeshi students would either hang out in MSA or SACC (South Asian Cultural Club). I always wanted to celebrate Bangladeshi holidays, which would let a lot of Bengalis connect with their country like it helped me. I was also inspired to help those in Bangladesh. I shared these thoughts with a friend in MSA who became so interested in my idea, he wanted to ensure it becomes a reality. We started BDP and finally celebrated our Independence Day at Hunter College. In the end, I had two goals. I wanted our community of students at Hunter College to have the chance to network with Bengalis with the same vision as me, and to help Bangladesh through our projects. Today I can proudly say that I have accomplished my goals.”