peace means promoting basic rights for everyone
Duchess of Luxembourg says in an interview.
Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and UNESCO's goodwill ambassador
for education Maria Teresa recently came to Bangladesh.
The Daily Star's Editor and Publisher MAHFUZ ANAM
and Assistant Editor KAuSHIK SHANKAR DAS
talked to her about the impressions she gathered and the
changes she witnessed on her second visit to the country.
Teresa, The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.
Daily Star: How has the trip been to Bangladesh?
of Luxemberg: It was very nice. The kindness and warmth
of the people, very welcoming words and attitudes, colours
and beautiful countryside - all these made the trip very
fulfilling. It was extraordinary. I am getting more and
more attached to this country.
you like to tell us some interesting experiences during
very impressed with some of the young girls I met in Madhupur
villlage in Tangail. I loved sitting with them on the floor,
making them feel comfortable so that they would talk to
me, ask questions. It was very touching and sweet -- they
asked me where I came from, about my family, how many children
I have etc. And then I asked them if they were happy not
to get married until they were eighteen and carry on with
education. They said definitely. I was so impressed with
their maturity, their straightforwardness. I asked them
whether this would cause any problem at home with the expectations
from other family members and they were certain that there
wouldn't be any problem. Whatever hesitations there were
in the beginning but now there is an acceptance and recognition
for our education in society.
I also asked them what would be the ideal husband for you.
They said someone who would be good, faithful doesn't drink
and smoke. Isn't that wise?
is your second visit in Bangladesh. Is there any contrasting
visions or changes since the last time you visited five
seen many changes. I have had the opportunity to go outside
Dhaka in the last two days. I was impressed with the road
communication in the countryside. Also access to the small,
remote areas have improved. And of course the houses in
the countryside. You see more houses, people living under
their own roofs, which signals a positive sign of the country's
are the major impressions that you are going back with after
this visit to Bangladesh?
absolutely convinced that micro-credit is definitely the
answer, the only solution to end misery of under privileged
people. However different people apply it in different forms,
but it is the viable solution undoubtedly. I am very impressed
by the general attitude of the people -- the openness, tolerance
and of course the decisions taken toward women. They were
very courageous decisions, there was no hesitation on your
part and you are clearly betting on a better future thanks
to what you are doing now. Mainly the free education for
girls is something that is so uncommon. I believe that education
is the most important for the girls, but the boys should
also be educated about the needs, strengths, limits of the
there anything that you decided to get personally involved
with in Bangladesh as the UNESCO Ambassador?
keep on working with the UNESCO projects in Bangladesh.
That's the reason I will keep coming back to see how the
projects are evolving. I have a personal friendship with
Professor Yunus and also Bibi Russell.
do you plan to accomplish as an ambassador of UNESCO?
the most important thing is to be a messenger of peace.
To do everything you can to promote peace. Promoting peace
means promoting basic rights for everyone, better future
for all, diminishing the negative aspects of human beings,
either socially, economically, ideologically whatever. This
is our main task as goodwill ambassadors.
goodwill ambassador acclimatizes herself by taking a conventional
'bhan gari' ride around the countryside.
in this part of the world have an impression that there
is a lot of prejudice in the West about us. Are you going
to do anything to change that?
can count on that. All the more, I really don't know whether
our people would be able to react with as much courage in
similar difficult situations. We don't have this happy attitude
like you no matter what's happening around you. This is
extremely extraordinary. You always have a smiling face
and tremendous dignity even in the most difficult circumstances.
It is already an example for us.
like to make a point here -- no matter what level of development
you try to achieve for your people, please never imitate
the west. You have such treasures. That's what I like about
UNESCO. It respects people, their culture, their simplicity.
We all have good traits and bad traits. For goodness sake,
don't copy us because that's not you. You must remain true
to your roots, your culture.