‘Charismatic’, ‘brave’, ‘daring’, ‘motivating’, ‘confident’ – these are just a few of the numerous words we hear when the qualities of a leader are described. We hear about leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and we hear about what great ‘visionaries’ they were. Sometimes, however, ‘inspirational’ stories of these great ‘influential’ figures derail our understanding of the true meaning of leadership. The young generation of today is constantly being fed the idea that they have to be ‘big leaders’ in their fields, and in order to achieve that position, they must inherit the ‘big attributes’ portrayed by big leaders. Focus is then turned away from the work of the leaders, which is actually the most important aspect, and turned towards how to become charming, appealing, poised, and the list goes on. read more
In this busy, dusty city of Dhaka, one is consumed by so many occurrences in a day that they hardly get time to take a step back and contemplate what is happening around and how one is getting influenced by their environment.
শত আশার শততম টেস্ট ম্যাচ। টিভি পর্দার সামনে উদ্বেগ, উৎকন্ঠা আর টানটান উত্তেজনায় কোটি তরুণ। আর ওদিকে লংকান মাটিতে লড়ছে ওরা ক’জন – সাকিব, তামিম আর মুশফিক বাহিনী। অবশেষে এল বহুল প্রত্যাশিত সেই বিজয়। সিংহের ডেরায় গ্ল্যাডিয়েটরদের হারিয়ে লাল-সবুজের পতাকা ওড়ালো বাংলার বাঘ। বিজয় উল্লাস ছড়িয়ে পরলো এ দেশের কোটি তরুণের চোখে-মুখে ফেইসবুকের নীল-সাদা পর্দায়, অলি-গলি পেরিয়ে রাজপথে টিএসসিতে। কে বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের ছাত্র, আর কে রাস্তার পাশে রিকশা থামিয়ে বিজয় মিছিলে সামিল হওয়া ঘর্মাক্ত রিকশাওয়ালা কিংবা টং দোকানের চা বিক্রেতা – সে হিসেব নেবার কেউ নাই, এটাই তারুণ্যের শক্তি, এটাই তারুণ্যের স্বকীয়তা, এটাই তারুণ্যের সৌন্দর্য। read more
আপনার লোকজনের সাথে কথা বলা প্রয়োজন কিন্তু আপনি তাতে স্বাচ্ছন্দ্যবোধ করেন না, নেটওয়ার্ক বাড়াতে অপরিচিত মানুষের সাথে যোগাযোগ প্রয়োজন সেখানেও আপনার মাঝে দ্বিধাবোধ কাজ করে। আবার দেখা যায় মিটিংয়ে হয়তো কিছু কথা আপনার নতুন একটা পরিচিতি দেয় কিন্তু আপনি সাহস করে কথাই বলতে চান না। এই ব্যাপারগুলি আমাদের কর্মক্ষেত্রে খুবই গুরুত্বপূর্ণ কিন্তু ব্যাক্তিগতভাবে এই জিনিসগুলি আমরা এড়িয়ে যাওয়ার চেষ্টা করি। read more
“Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold!
Take away the sword
States can be saved without it.”
১৮৩৯ সালে প্রখ্যাত ইংরেজ নাট্যকার Edward Bulwer Lytton লিখে গিয়েছিলেন কেন তলোয়ারের চাইতে কলম বেশি শক্তিশালী।
একসময় পৃথিবীর মানচিত্র পাল্টে যেতো তলোয়ারের জোরে। যার তলোয়ার যত বেশি ধারালো, তার ক্ষমতাও তত বেশি। তলোয়ারের জোরে এক রাজার পতন ঘটতো, অন্য রাজার ঘটতো উত্থান। তারপর একটা সময় আসলো যখন ধীরে ধীরে জ্ঞান-বিজ্ঞানের বিকাশ ঘটলো। দেখা গেল তরবারির জায়গা দখল করে নিয়েছে কলম। সারা বিশ্ব অবাক বিস্ময়ে দেখলো লেখনীশক্তি কেমন করে পুরো বিশ্বকে পাল্টে দেয়। কয়েকজন দার্শনিকের লেখালেখির ফলস্বরূপ ঘটেছিল ফরাসি বিপ্লব। সেই ফরাসি বিপ্লবের ঢেউয়ে আন্দোলিত হয়েছে সারা বিশ্ব।
We are living in both exciting and dispiriting times. On one hand, we are witnessing extraordinary advancements in technology that is connecting us in ways that was once unimaginable, while on the other, we are seeing an uprising of populism and a rejection of globalization. While Uber launches in Dhaka, their engineers in Silicon Valley are experimenting with driverless cars. We are also seeing, simultaneously, societies turning inwards, looking to close borders and build walls, manifested recently with Brexit and the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. There seems to be a crisis in leadership. Where have all the good leaders gone? read more
Ever since I was young, I always considered myself as a person who got along with everyone. I enjoyed keeping myself busy with different kinds of activities, meeting new people, and having new experiences. Little did I realize that the world around me was not as big as I perceived it to be. Going to an English medium school, my life revolved mostly around friends from school, and I hardly ever had the opportunity to meet anyone from other education mediums in Bangladesh. I thought that there would be little that I would be able to connect with them on, even if our paths crossed, as it was difficult to think of much that we may have in common.
For example, in this day and age, when you think about Madrassa students, many preconceived notions come to mind, such as extreme conservatism and lack of tolerance for diverse views. Similarly, perhaps, English medium students are also subjected to certain stereotypes such as being too vain, or trying too hard to emulate Western values and culture. In reality, however, the fact that young people from different backgrounds don’t have many avenues to interact in society leads to such broad generalizations in their views about each other.
We must ask ourselves, does this bode well for Bangladesh? In a country where 52% of the population is less than the age of 25, our future will in large part be shaped by the next generation of young Bangladeshis. What would that future look like if young people with diverse perspectives cannot reconcile their differences? In truth, I would have never been prompted to even consider this issue had I not learned about the BBLTJ program at the Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center. The BBLTJ, or the Building Bridges through Leadership Training Junior, is a month-long leadership training program that brings together students from diverse backgrounds. It features English, Bengali, and Madrassa medium students who come together in the classroom to explore their ownselves, and try to bridge their differences through team building, reflection, and service learning.
I applied to the program with a lot of trepidation, not knowing what to expect, but felt that the opportunity would at least push me out of my comfort zone. And I felt that without moving to the edge of your competencies, you cannot grow as an individual. The next few months that I spent at BYLC were truly memorable. I grew more than I could ever imagine in self-confidence and motivation, and felt that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to. What inspired me in this journey were the friendships that I had forged with my fellow participants who came from all walks of life. Their leadership journeys and struggles to be the best versions of themselves inspired me to also live for a bigger purpose than just my own.
My preconceived notions about Bengali and Madrassa medium students were also shattered. I realized that we all really have the same aspirations in life – to do well for ourselves while making a positive impact in society through our work. Most importantly, however, I learned that when a group of diverse individuals come together as one, great things can happen.
One of my best experiences in the program was during the Leadership in Action phase. In this component of BBLT-J, we went out to underprivileged communities and tried to deliver a positive and sustainable intervention as a team. In this project, the diversity of our team led to approaching the problem at hand from a multitude of perspectives and added to the richness of our project. It helped reaffirm why diversity and building bridges is instrumental to creating positive change. Differences can often be translated into strength, if all the voices are given an equal chance to be heard.
I am sharing my thoughts with you today to also encourage you to step out of your comfort zones to meet other promising young men and women who share the same passion and drive for change in society, but do not necessarily hail from the same background as yourself. Based on my own experience, such interactions can often be transformative and seminal in your growth as a person.
The program that first provided me with that opportunity is taking applications for its latest batch of participants. The tenth BBLTJ program has launched and the deadline is set for February 28. I encourage everyone to visit the website www.bylc.org/bbltj and apply.
Monoshita Ayruani, a graduate of BBLTJ 1, is an undergraduate student at the University of Liberal Arts, and Copywriter and contents strategist at WebAble. She is also the Co-founder of the blog Mad Koffee.