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Linking Young Minds Together
Volume 5 | Issue 30 | July 31, 2011 |


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Living and Experiencing

Miftahul Jannat Chowdhury

The LFE participants.Courtesy: IUB

A gush of warm summer breeze comes in as we get off the bus at Proshika, Manikganj. We sit underneath the massive canopies of an age old Ashok tree by the vast pond, watching its rare orange flowers efflorescing in full summer spirit. Seasoned as we are to the chaos of the city life, we sit there and relish the quite and peace, inhaling the warm air heavy with flower scents, thinking the next 12 days are not going to be so bad after all.

On our first day of the Live-in-Field Experience (LFE), a course only offered by Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) letting students get a taste of the rural life, we find little work to do. We treat ourselves with tea and curd and take a stroll around the premises of Proshika in the moonlit night of Buddha Purnima.

One of the most fundamental aspects of the Live-in-Field Experience is interacting with the villagers. Surprisingly, the most common stereotypes of the 'city people' about 'village people' is that they are naïve, little or not educated at all, and blessed with sentiments bursting at the seams. This trip to Manikganj breaks that stereotype. First, the village people are anything but naïve when it comes to understanding life in consistent with the philosophical aspects. Secondly, we found several university graduates who chose to return to their villages in the peace and quiet. Thirdly, their emotions and sentiments are not at all bursting at the seams.

Before starting the survey work, we visit almost every household in our three assigned villages - Koitta, Burundi, and Golora, to collect their household heads' names and to get acquainted with them. Next day, we interview each and every family member in our assigned households, and fill up the questionnaires online using our cell phones. Throughout the entire process of encoding, decoding, and feedback as a part of surveying, we break the cultural barrier between us and develop an affectionate relationship with the locals.

Charubala Karmakar, 93, never had the faintest idea that a bunch of strangers from the city could show her such compassion. As senile as she is, she also happens to be a homeless widow who has been living in the storage room of another family in the village since her son passed away a few years ago. “May Bhogoban bless you with wealth and happiness. You have treated me like family,” she says with tearful eyes, trembling as she struggles to stand up. We bid her farewell and return to our dorms, as she prays for a good husband and a lot of sons for me to have in the near future!

By the end of our stay, we find it difficult to think about returning to the cacophony of city life. As accustomed as we are now to the peace, quiet, and the picturesque premises of Proshika and the villages painted with vivid greenery, the very thought of never seeing the villagers, their childlike smiles and their cordial hospitality haunts us. And probably that is why, when we ride back home through the snake-like high ways, something at the back of my head whispers, I will come back.

(The author is a student of the Department of Media and Communications at IUB.)

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