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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 15| April 11, 2010|


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Duke of Edinburgh's Award Programme
Maple Leaf International School's Trip to Cox's Bazaar

Shihab Khan

Cox's Bazar, with its exotic white sandy beaches, breath taking sites and mouth-watering cuisine, is an ideal tourist spot, which attracts hundreds of thousands every year. Even when it comes to the people of this nation, it is one of the most commonly visited places, mostly for the beach, which is said to be the longest natural sea beach in the world.

I, a student of Maple Leaf International School and a Gold Awardee of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Programme, went on an adventurous trip to Cox's Bazar along with twenty-seven other Awardees and four Award Leaders, Abdur Raquib, Taher, Shaheen Khan and Rahmat Tara.

The Award Programme was divided into three stages- Bronze, Silver, and Gold level and we were taken to field trips for each level as the Adventurous Journey, during which we were assigned to do different tasks, conduct surveys, meet challenges etc. Jim Parker, one of the Award Leaders of the Award Programme in UK was there to see us along with Shuman Saha, the national director of the Award Programme in Bangladesh.

I remember how exciting it was when 24 hours before the bus was to start off for Cox's Bazar. There was adrenaline rush and it was as if I had had tons of chocolate which kept me hyper all day long! I even went to the bus terminal about an hour before the bus was supposed to start off. I thought I would be the first one there but was actually the last. The bus departed earlier than scheduled and stopped right in front of Motel Probal the next day at about 9 in the morning and we resided there for the entire trip. The last time I had been there was 7 years back and that place was filled with tourists staying over at the motel. Due to an off-season the place was not that crowded as it used to be.

We had a packed three-day agenda. At first we checked in to the hotel, changed, and went straight to the beach. The sight of the beach made everyone exuberant. My friends and I ran as fast as our legs could carry us. The only thing that could not penetrate my thick head at the time was how hot the sand was and I realized it only after I felt my feet barbequing on hot sand! It was an amazing experience being at the beach after such a long time, even though it was excessively hot and sunny. I played volleyball and beach football for the first time in my life and even rode a horse, which was especially fun. After the beach we took a dip in the indoor swimming pool at our hotel to cool off.

After lunch we walked to a very old Buddhist monastery. Honestly, I was wondering how these buildings are standing still. We climbed a hill behind the monastery and were taken aback by the breathtaking view from the hilltop. Then a few of us experienced the thrill of shopping in the Burmese Market local taste, traders selling pickles, dry fish etc. I, on the other hand, decided to stay back as my feet were aching for all the walking we had done so far.

The next day, one of our Award Leaders, Mr. Raquib, conducted a meditation session at the beach. It was very relaxing, and do believe me when I say relaxing. We had breakfast at a local restaurant, and then we got ready for a trek to Himchari which is about 8-10 km from Cox's Bazaar town. A drive would have taken hardly 15-20 minutes, but the trek took us four and a half hours. Trekking along the beach with cool blue water lashing at our feet was an exhilarating experience. We experienced a slice of local life on our way, when we spoke to people living in the hills, whose children would implore us to buy sea shells and some would even sing to us, which was particularly cute. It was wonderful to see the smile on their faces when they sold sea shells or received a small token of appreciation for their singing.

The walk to Himchari seemed endless, but we were given a sign of hope when we saw a chain of hills. We were sure Himchari was nearby. It was only a kilometre away now. You don't know how happy I was when I saw the signboard. We saw towering hills of orange rocks standing vertically. We walked along the sides. The sight was spectacular with orange rocks on one side and the blue sea on the other. It was almost 3:30 pm when we reached Himchari and we were all famished and thirsty but the thrill of the adventure was still intact. We had crossed a distance of 10 km under the scorching sun, on the burning sand and with waves of cool blue water at our feet. It may seem pleasant to hear about the waves, but the sand was at times hot enough to peel off your skin. Nonetheless, we succeeded!

That night, Akib, Shoaib and Raquib went shopping for chicken and pomfret for a barbeque. Shoaib and Akib with the assistance of Humaira, Ashfaque, Maria, Ambreen and a few others prepared a wonderful dinner, one which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Day 3, and we woke up at around 6.00 am to take a very bumpy roller coaster bus ride to Teknaf to board the ship, Kutubdia, to Saint Martin's Island. For most of us, it was the first time we boarded a ship, but the experience was awesome. There were little children on board, bringing us coffee for every 20 Taka we gave them. The view was spectacular, with Myanmar on one side and Bangladesh on the other. When we got near the island, I remember seeing nothing on the horizon, nothing but blue water as far as my eyes could see. We had lunch in Saint Martin's Island and then walked on the beach. The swaying palms, white sand and sparkling clear water held us spellbound. The scenic beauty of the Saint Martin's Island was incomparable to any other island I have seen. I really wished we could have stayed there longer.

Coming back from the Island, we had dinner at the Angel Drop restaurant at Cox's Bazar. The cuisine we had was probably the best in the entire trip. For the first time, I tasted the jelly-like body of a well-cooked squid, and the hard shell of a crab with its inner soft meaty goodness. What a feeling it was having dinner right by the beach with the moon hovering over the eastern sky and the white waves coming in closer and closer. It was definitely the perfect end to a perfect adventurous trip!

Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) and the Student

Md. Anwarul Kabir

Few years back, based on the stateless globalised technology Internet the biggest virtual social network Facebook has initiated. Due to this innovation the lifestyle of the people on the globe is gradually changing. In the western world, specifically where easy access to the Internet has been ensured, many people prefer to take part in virtual interaction rather than real world.

No doubt, apparently facebook has rendered us many positive aspects of social interaction, although virtually. It enables us to find friends, old or new one, schedule event, play events and send virtual gifts. It also provides us with an excellent way to keep close touch with friends, kith and kin for ever, irrespective of their geographical whereabouts. Yet, like other technology, facebook has got its adverse impact too. Recently the Daily star has published a news item based on an empirical survey in Melbourne. According to the survey, popular social networking websites such as Facebook are having a distracting effect on school children and their studies. The poll, headed by Oxygen Factory, discovered that nearly 80 per cent of students, aged 11 to 18 said social networking sites were a distraction from their studies. As many as 75 per cent said they went online to check their web profiles at least once a day, while more than half felt they spent too much time on the sites. This is not the scenario in Melbourne only, in fact in all developed countries students are often distracted from their studies due to facebook and similar types of social networking systems ( e.g. myspace) over the Internet.

In the context of the averse impact of facebook, eminent social thinker Tom Hogkinson in an article in the Guardians lamented, “ I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American business describes itself as "a social utility that connects you with the people around you". But hang on. Why on God's earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub? And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk?

A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.” If we analyse objectively, we can not deny the assertion of Hogkinson.

Many researches based on empirical studies have termed the Facebook as seductive media almost like cocaine. Researches also suggest that in the developed world, Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) is becoming a real problem, it is a psycho-physiological disorder involving tolerance; withdrawal symptoms; affective disturbance; and interruption of social relationship in the real world. You may diagnose by yourself whether you are suffering from FAD or not answering the checklist given below:

a.You lose sleep over facebok
b. You are more than an hour on the facebook
c. You become obsessed with friends on the facebook d. You give more emphasis on facebook than your other important assignmenst (e.g. study for the student) in the real world.
e.You change your profile picture over and over again. That means you are worrying about your image far too much.
In our country, as uninterrupted Internet is only available in the urban areas so far, FAD has not become widespread like in the developed world. However, due to introduction of broadband and wi fi technologies, the Internet is growing faster. So, we can not discard the possibility of a large number of FAD affected students in the near future. Although there is no survey on the issue in Bangladesh, the observation suggests many students from upper-middleclass to high-class strata of the society, particularly of Dhaka have become Internet addicted. Some of them have been found over obsessed with the facebook. So, before reaching to an alarming situation we should take some precautionary measures right now.

To avoid FAD, the following actions may be taken:
a. Define the objectives of using facebook and you must stick to those objectives.
b. Make a facebook schedule and stick to that schedule.
d. Don't leave the important works (e.g. class assignments, exam preparation) due to facebook activities.
e. Facebook is a cyber world and in it you can interact with the people virtually only. Give more importance to the real-life social interactions.

Finally, I like to quote from Baroness Susan Greenfield, famous British neuroscientist, “ We can not turn back the clock, but the threat is growing because technology is becoming more seductive and powerful. We must start facing up not only to the impact that computers are having on ourselves and our childrenbut also to the wider implications their use will have for our society in the future.”

(The writer is a university academic at AIUB. email: kabiranwar@yahoo.com)

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