169 Hours in by Sahil Gazi

25 Apr

I had heard about 1 Degree Initiative a long time ago, but never really knew what it was. At the beginning of February, when they started recruiting new Interns into their different sectors, I stumbled onto one of their recruitment campaign banners and just fell in love with it. I’m not that good at art, but I admire designing a lot and well among other things, the banner itself attracted my attention unlike ever before.

I was called in for the interviews and when I got there, the first word to grace my mind was: Amazing! My first glance into the ground floor courtyard: the place is unexpectedly large, and as we sat right at the edge of the courtyard boundary, there were rather amusingly colored carpets on the floor. I say amusing because when all of us interviewees got to talk, most of us could relate to the fact that the whole environment vaguely reminded us of Google HQ, as most of us had seen the movie “The Internship” not too long ago.

 

At first we were given 1 topic in Bangla and English each and we wrote for a good 40 minutes and I was personally quite sad, because I honestly didn’t write that well, at a point near the end I even gave up but the next segment was introductions and discussions so I thought I would have some luck there and finished up writing whatever I could muster. When the Introductions started, the girl on the far end of the circle started off and she gave quite an impressive description of herself. The pressure was building up and I could see the nervousness on everyone’s faces. Funny thing about Introductions? People can actually forget about themselves and just stare back like they have been asked to speak in a different language. The case here was no different but by the time my turn came I was mentally ready, and off I went with a gamble, everyone else was saying how they had done all these impressive activities, I decided to go with my strength; after telling them the important stuff I raised my voice and with a smiling face said “I haven’t done anything before, but my objective is to learn what I can”. From that point onward I felt very confident and just in time too. So, after the long, enthusiastic but equally exhausting group debate, we were given a break until the private interviews were to begin. And as if almost immediately the very people we all were arguing against all felt a sense of comradery and circled up to chat, obviously almost 3 hours into the program we were all hungry as well so we randomly ranted about being hungry and being nervous about the rest of the interview to come.

 Image

 

Photo credit: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

The entire next day I kept checking my email for any news, and then the very next day I got the call to come into work, I was psyched!. I was still new to travelling by bus and well, the journey was less than pleasant but it was worth it, walking into the office I was greeted by my bosses and that girl from back at the interviews. We actually became good friends by then so it was a really pleasant sight to see her there as well. And so with a few jokes leading into a more serious note, I started working. Day 1; hour 1. Sometime along that very week I had the chance to visit Dhaka University’s TSC, which is a rather different kind of place than what I am used to, but it was buzzing with student culture and enthusiasm. We met many interesting people who were eager to help us out with our videos and photoshoots for an upcoming project. From kids to elderlies, everyone was enthusiastic to provide their inputs, from there we visited the Boi Mela and later at Chobir Haat, we had a great desi style lunch at a local restaurant and made many fond memories that day in all our traveling. Working and chatting, and overall my first fieldwork will be in my best memories. Meeting Stark has been the highlight of many of my days at work, he’s the ever energetic and often a bit bitey, white furred dog that lives in our office. We all love him and cherish his presence but he can also be a bit annoying when we are zoned into our work, but nonetheless, he’s a furry white cannon ball as I call him, and I can’t imagine a day at work without Stark. During my first few weeks I have grown attached to the balcony at our office, we often take our breaks there and its a very open place with a lot of vegetation and sunlight; All our brainstorming sessions usually takes place there and I personally think that I can provide more output because of being in such an open space.

 Image

 

Photo credit: Ata Khan Mojlish Bidhu 

These days I’m working on a range of content from blogs to designing to organizing workload and extensively focusing on social media, and even though I live miles away from InHouse, I can’t wait to come to work every morning and just hangout with my colleagues, learn from their experiences and sometimes just chilling out.

My experiences in 1dI has been far too much to just write down at one go, there is a long way ahead and I am ready to take every step at a time and enjoy every bit of it as I go, because at the end of the day the best output in work comes out when you actually enjoy doing it, and so far I have no complaints or regrets, I love it here.

My gratitude to 1dI for giving me this opportunity.

Stepping Out Of The Comfort Zone by Namista Tabassum

18 Apr

 

New intern, hard at work – Namista Tabassum talks about her first time drawing and stepping out of the comfort zone and learning new things!

 

Image

You know how people ask you ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ And how it keeps changing over the years from random occupations like ‘A Rockstar Chef!’ to a more muted ‘Computer Engineer’? Well it was different for me. From my earliest memories, I remember wanting to be an artist. A painter. Picasso if you will. As I have grown older, the desire to be an artist has not changed. Alas, life happens to everyone, and as such my artistic dreams were put on the back burner. I consoled myself thinking- I draw because I love to. I’m sure I would have been no good professionally! (Insert sad emoticon). Anyway, with my mind set, I started my academic journey, my destination being a good 9 to 5 job with a fat paycheck as someone’s financial analyst (My major being Finance).

 

And then life served me the delicious dish of becoming an intern at the One Degree Initiative. A communication intern, no less. So here I was, among the creative minds that churned out unrealistic and unfathomable ideas which somehow got mish-mashed together to make sense to the mass audience. Was this my calling? Was this my chance to prove to myself that I could use my artistic skills professionally? Was it?

 

NO – time for a rude awakening. See, I know art. I know how to draw; I know how to capture that perfect shade of red off that slice of watermelon you’re biting into in this irritatingly warm weather. But that’s not what Communications is about. My boss, Apurbo Bhaiya, did not hand me the silver platter full of drawings I had so eagerly been waiting for. Oh no! He handed me my new nemesis – social media campaign visuals. Visuals pertinent to ongoing 1dI projects. Apurbo Bhaiya and our Deputy head Ata barraged me with nightmarish terms like social reach, perspectives, mass audience, colour schemes, urban chic… Things I have heard of, even seen, but had no idea how to present! I was given references from obscure advertisements, to templates from random google search images. Fellow intern, Nooha telling me to make basic shapes just so – Apurbo Bhaiya telling me to conceptualize far-fetched ideas onto my poor blank canvas – Ata silently shaking his head when I show him my meager offerings. ‘No Namista. This is great but no one will get the idea we are trying to promote’. I am sarcastically dubbed communication department’s resident ‘Van Gogh’. The girl who cannot simplify ideas.

 

I stare at Stark, our office dog. I listen to Ushra’s witty yet random mutterings. I exchange lost looks with Sahil. I sigh. I walk over to the inHouse balcony, looking for inspiration. My eyes wander for some trigger, and instead fall on the rather noisy construction workers in the next building. I sigh again. I return to my seat, my graphic tablet in hand, and wonder what possessed me to think I could do this. I’m not a campaigns visuals designer! I’m just an amateur artist.

Image

 

Pushing aside my misgivings, I forge on. I draw with break-neck speed! Well, snail-paced speed according to Apurbo Bhaiya. And then, finally, after several sleepless nights and nerve-wracking days, I am done. I email my work to Apurbo Bhaiya, a rather lost puppy look on my face. Oh Stark! Now I know how you feel when we shoo you out of our office. You just wanted a little appreciation! I get that now. So here I am, dragging my feet on my way to my Heads of department. If they scrap my work after I have redone them five times over, I’m going to stop drawing. I just am!

 

Geared up with a childish tantrum in my head, I approach Apurbo Bhaiya and Ata, and ask for feedback in a tremulous voice. ‘Namista the visuals are really good! You are finally getting the hang of what we want from you!’ says Apurbo Bhaiya. ‘Yes Namista. I especially like what you did with the second picture. Great job!’ says Ata.

I can’t believe my ears! It was like being handed crisp notes of money after being broke for a month. It was Nirvana! I was so happy! My confidence in my own skills had been hacked down to nothing in the past few weeks. But finally, with Apurbo Bhaiya and Ata’s appreciation, I have regained what I lost. In Game of Thrones, you either win, or you die. Well, I stepped out of my comfort zone, beyond the North wall. And I fought the White Walkers. And I have come back, if not unscathed, then having learnt my lesson. I am finally learning to incorporate the way I draw with the concepts that 1dI needs.

I’m ready for the next barrage of assignments. Hear me, Apurbo Bhaiya! Ata! I will draw to please, and I shall succeed!

 

1098262_10202637970163653_1282545220_n

Final product of Namista’s ability to step out of the comfort zone!

Courtesy of photographs: Internet

 

My 1dI Experience

17 Dec

 

Syed Tasneem Hassan

My journey of “1dI” began with the 100 smiles project in 2013, in Uttara. And what a start! Everything in the process of making 100 smiles successful was AMAZING, starting from the meetings to the shopping, making bags with smileys on them, packing those things. Every little thing was great. And then came the best part, the actual event day. We were about 15 people, volunteering and there were about 200 children. We had a very hectic time trying to control them, but also, we had fun like most of us had never had before. We, the children and volunteers alike, played “Catch” on the grass, then jumped in the mud and splashed so many others in the process! I was supposed to just take pictures of everyone, but I couldn’t stop myself from getting involved in the fun. Then it started raining, heavily, but we still kept it together. We distributed the gifts very fast, and because of the rain, we couldn’t even do the things we had planned, like face-painting, henna designs, and a bunch of other stuff. But what I am sure that each one of us would agree on is that we had fun! A great day it was! My second project was celebrating victory through volunteerism. And, as I have mentioned countless times to all the people I’ve met after CVTV, the experience was life-changing. Well, first we had gone to “InHouse” on December 14th to see a documentary on the liberation war of Bangladesh. It was truly intriguing. And then on 16th December, Victory Day, we went to two places. First to a medical camp, but I didn’t have much to do there I just took photos of the activities going on, and as everyone was doing pretty much the same things, there wasn’t much to capture. After that, I left for wrapping the gifts for the children at Ashic foundation. Soon after we were done, we left for Ashic foundation and then I realized, I have never known true fun! We spent hours with those kids and every single one of them was adorable. There were all sorts of kids, quiet ones, loud ones, jumpy ones, cheery ones, angry ones, sporty ones, and all of us had crazy fun! We gave them gifts, we played with them, we colored with them, blew out bubbles, had balloon fights, cut a cake, ate it, took lots and lots of pictures, and in the end of the day, most of us got attached to a particular kid, and were calling the “our kid”. “My kid” in that sense was Ishmaat, and he was a darling! His nature was funny, active, naughty, sweet all snowballed together. He was giving kisses to everyone, which my new friend, Mehad taught him to do. The best part of my day was when Ishmaat fed me cake. I was feeling this gush of affection for that kid. The worst part OBVIOUSLY was leaving. I have decided that if I get the chance, I will visit them again. This is all I have been involved with at 1dI, and I hope there will be many more events which I will be a part of.

A Trip Back to 1971

4 Dec
Risalat Ahmed

The visit to Geneva camp started with our contact, Mr. Murtuza informing us about the problems with a English version school run by OBAT in the camp, and mostly how the ‘people from Geneva camps’ face trouble getting a higher education. The problems arise as ‘we’ tend to see the people from Geneva camps as a different ‘race’ or ‘species’.

The students from these schools upon reaching the JSC grades have to go to other schools for further education. As simple as we think it might be, the scenario is supposed to be: Complete JSC – find another school – get admission through tests – and you are in, no complications, no discrimination.

It’s completely different for ‘people from Geneva camps’. As soon as the schools see the form and find out they are from ‘Geneva camp’, the students are instantly rejected. So how do they get past these? They change their address, they change their identity.

A visit to the Geneva camps followed after the meeting. I personally have never been completely on the inside and it was an eye opener. If we ask the youth of the country, or just gather 10,000 of our everyday youth and ask them to write down the first thing that comes into their head when they hear the term Geneva camp, I am pretty sure at least 30% would write ‘mostakim’, 20% would write ‘luchi and kabab’, 10% would write ‘ganja’ and another 10% would write ‘muggers’.

So, into the camps, it felt like a completely different society, felt as if we stepped 40 years back. There were small houses and each house was smaller than the room of a average kid and the houses weren’t just houses, they were factories, small units of the economy that are running 24 hours a day. The houses accommodated families and their means of earning; a mother working making packets for a fast food chain while her three year old daughter was helping her by gluing them. I have a three year old at my home, and I think it’s dangerous for her to even walk around bare feet inside a properly maintained apartment.

The ‘houses’ were often made into a two floors and not by adding another roof on top of the first one like we do, they have to add the floor in the middle, halving the headroom. Why? Because its one room for an entire family and not for just living, for them, for their methods of earning, for their cattle and yes, I wrote cattle.

The most enlightening part of the day came afterwards, during our visit to the Surovi School run by OBAT.

The session with the headmaster made us realize that most of us, we still look at Geneva camp with discrimination despite them having no role in the war.

The people in the camps are denied of basic rights, their right to education is barred due to their identity, and their right to shelter is confined to 4 square feet a person. Discriminated by every organization in the country, and the government and victimized by the people, what do they do? Where do they go? Any human rights organization that comes forward to help these people is stopped by the Muktijoddha-chetona.

There are kids being born inside the camp today and yes, inside the camp with often NO medical attention, what are their crimes?

The government has recognized them with the National ID card and at the same moment has given them on to the hatred that we have been breeding for them. We hate them, why? Why do we discriminate the kid who is 10 today?

We might have come 40 years from 1971 but the camps are still stuck at 1971. We have developed, we have prospered, and we are slowly starting to live up to a first world standard of luxuries but inside the camps? It’s the same as a society that just fought a war with a broken economy, no luxuries; it’s still 1971 in there.

This Is Is How It Starts

27 Nov

One day, in a casual conversation with one of the founders of 1dI, I remember telling him of how major diseases like diarrhea, cholera and such during flood can be lessened by just building tube wells 5 meters above the ground; I thought then this would lead to thousands of people having access to safe drinking water even during floods. 1dI then fully supported and carried out the plan. Surprisingly, even though being their first ever project, this had a significant impact on all the people in a small village at Shatkhira. That is how my journey at 1dI began.

 

After having actively volunteering in high school community service clubs for two years, it was extremely hard for me to accept that I might not be involved into community service thereafter. But after high school, 1dI helped me keep the community service spirit in me ALIVE! I contributed to 1dI for 2 years and went abroad to chase higher education. But during my visits on summer vacations, I still tried participating with 1dI in various other projects too. After completing my Bachelors, I returned to Bangladesh and started building my career in the field of Finance by joining a multinational bank. After working in the corporate world for a year and half, I realized there was something missing in all that. Even the thick salary could not compensate for the emptiness that had started growing within me. Then I thought, why not use my finance expertise to contribute to 1dI in a different manner? Previously, I was a team member, an event coordinator and a project leader but helping it develop its finance backbone would be a challenging but at the same time an EXCITING experience! So I took the very job and I am bringing about as many changes as I can and I feel satisfied to not only have been working in my own field, but also giving back to my society.

 I saw this organization since its birth till it grew to be one of the largest youth led organizations in the country. In future, I might chase my career towards a different path, in a different place, but in spirit I will always be at 1dI.Image

 

Raitul Rabith

Head of Finance

One Degree Initiative Foundation

 

My Rickshaw Rides at 1dI

14 Nov Diya Apu, Mushfiq and I, representatives from the three generations of ECs from 2006 to 2012.

Rickshaw rides are my definition of ‘freedom’. Let me elaborate: I come from a very protective (and loving) family, and rickshaw rides were (and still are) a BIG no-no. I’m usually not even allowed to go out alone, so when I had my first few rickshaw rides without parents/’adults’, they were my first taste of independence. It doesn’t surprise me that my most memorable ones happened right here at 1dI (except for a few that happened while at BYLC, but let’s save those for the BYLC blog).

1. With Faria Noor

With Faria Noor, Fellow Ex-Powerpuff Girl

With Faria Noor, fellow ex-Powerpuff Girl and DU-ian.

This was a very nerve-wrecking one. We took a rickshaw to our VERY FIRST meeting as ‘ECs’ (Executive Heads of 1dI) way back in mid-2011. We kept going over what we’d discuss, who would talk about what and all that, trying to prepare ourselves for what seemed like a huge disaster, because neither of us welcomed the idea of speaking. In front of people.

The farthest I’d taken a rickshaw before was from the middle of Korail to right outside. This broke all records – Dhanmondi to Green Road. Yeah, go on, laugh. It meant the world to me, though! And who better to share it with than my partner in crime for the next two years? (Our EC-ship ended in early 2013, and it’s been a BLAST working with her and Ariza, our third Powerpuff.)

  • With Aawatef Rahman Khan, Logistics Lizard

Aawatef (right), Adam (left) and I at the 1dI booth, taking a break after all the hard (not) work!

All right, the introduction was purely to go with nicknames like ‘Communication Cats’. ‘Logistics Lizards’ hasn’t actually stuck yet. 1dI had a booth at the Social Good Summit 2013 Bangladesh, and we found out first-hand what it’s actually like to represent an organization. It’s a lot of work. But Aawatef and I sneaked into the conference and hid behind Diya Apu, cracking lame jokes, so it was fun too.

We ended it by taking a rickshaw from Senate Bhaban to inHouse, our brand new and equally awesome headquarters in Dhanmondi. The conversation on this ride was very refreshing – we spoke about all-things-young, from food (he hadn’t eaten all day) to recreation to parents, and there was a resilience that you wouldn’t feel when in conversation with pure adults.

  • With Mushfiqur Rahman, Professor Utonium

This was back when the 1dI headquarters was a beautiful place on the 13th floor of a building at Panthapath. I had just started going to office, having chosen my field of Research and Documentation at the organization. Mushfiq was there slaving away on 1° Challenge 2012-13, a biggest project 1dI had seen till date. That was also when there was a lot of trouble on the streets (quite similar to the current situation), so we left office early and headed home.

This rickshaw ride broke all other records – Panthapath to Niketan (where I got down) to Baridhara DOHS. Didn’t even take us very long! It’s where I picked up the very helpful tip of taking an extra battery for my phone on out-of-town trips, so thanks Mushfiq!

Diya Apu, Mushfiq and I, representatives from the three generations of ECs from 2006 to 2012.

Diya Apu, Mushfiq and I, representatives from the three generations of ECs from 2006 to 2012.

  • With Sabhanaz Rashid Diya, Like-Minded Mentor

The night before the Closing Ceremony of the 1° Challenge 2012-13, inHouse was on fire. Well, not literally. Volunteers, interns and organizers flooded the place preparing for the event the next day, with paper, paint, posters and other stationeries strewn across the entire floor. Surprisingly enough, Diya Apu and I had little work (I did, anyway), so we took a trip to her place and back to pick up some necessities.

We talked about EVERYTHING, from our families, studies, future, 1dI, people, and even managed to squeeze in some food in that 15-20 minute ride! It was epic, and very 1dI.

In case you hadn’t guessed from this very long post about absolutely nothing, 1dI’s a pretty big part of my life, in the strangest ways possible. Looking forward to more of these rickshaw rides – maybe next time, it’ll be with the Communication Cats or the Finance… Ferrets?😉

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 425 other followers