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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 61 | March 23 , 2008|


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Chitchat with some

Feeda Hassan Shahed

Rupa HUQ- “We are now in a position where we earn both respect as well as money. I am a lecturer in a university unlike old stereotypes.”

The British High Commission recently arranged the media people to meet a 5-member British Bangladeshi delegation. The significant part of this visit was to enable exchange of ideas between British Bangladeshis and people in Bangladesh and drive away possible misconceptions about the British-Bangladeshi culture, ambiguity regarding their position in UK and the issue of identity crisis etc.

The 5-member delegations included:

Konnie HUQ, TV presenter, born to Bangladeshi parents, graduated from Cambridge University and is best known for presenting a long running British Children's magazine show “Blue Peter”.

Selim Hussain, entrepreneur and businessman, started his business 12 years ago at the age of 18 with an initial capital of 20 pounds while working part time as a waiter. The annual turnover of his business is now 40 million pounds.

Rupa HUQ, Lecturer and DJ, teaches sociology at Kingston University where her research area is youth culture and pop music. She also stood as a Labour candidate in Chesham and Amersham in 2005 general election.

Mahee Ferdaus JALIL, Leading British Bangladeshi Businessman, owner Prestige Autogroup, founded the first British-Sylheti language television channel which began broadcasting in December 2004, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week targeting the Bangladeshi community in the West.

Barrister Aklaq Choudhury, From King's Bench Walk Chambers, Specialist in Employment and Public/Administrative law and information law. Stands out for being 'really client-friendly', and inspires confidence with his excellent legal analysis and persuasive advocacy.

Rupa HUQ gave the opening speech. Introducing herself as a British-Bangladeshi. She said that she was born in 1972, and settled down in UK when she was 17. She clarified the position of the British-Bangladeshis in UK mentioning that they are not at the bottom pile in UK. There was a time when people from Bangladesh flew to England in search of a better living but things have changed now. She said they are not only waiters anymore. “We are now in a position where we earn both respect as well as money. I am a lecturer in a university unlike old stereotypes.” Speaking on the identity crisis issue she said, “We are British as well as Bangladeshi and the same time we are Europeans too. I like Bangladeshi culture so I don't see any reason to have any identity crisis.”

Answering a question regarding whether Bangla is spoken by them, Barrister Aklaq said, “ My children want to speak Bangle at home so we try to carry on the conversation at home in Bangla. But we are not quite sure whether our grandsons or granddaughters will be able to do so. My elder son can hardly speak little Bangla but my younger son can understand Bangla, as he barely speaks the language.”

Mr. Jalil added that, “It is our fault not to practice it, because we do not use it as frequently as we should. There is Bangla in the elementary level of education and nobody there ever raised any objection about it. There is no pressure not to use the language. It is acceptable for us to speak English in UK as local language but that does not mean we cannot use Bangla among us. So there is no point in arguing about cultural dominance. If we loose our culture, we shall be liable for that.”

At the end of the chitchat they gave some valuable advices to the youth who are willing to enter UK for higher studies or jobs.

Mr. Jalil said, “If you want to persue higher study then first of all you have to be careful in choosing a good college. Secondly If you are to go for jobs then you should stick to that goal.”

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