This is Rehnuma Rahin. I am 17 years old. I live in Bashundhara Residential Area, Dhaka. Currently, I am taking the IB Diploma at AISD, and while I am somewhat undecided about what exactly I will be studying in college, I am hoping to pursue to a major in either Economics or English Literature, though I am quite certain my choices for a major may change slightly as I approach my graduation, given I will be able to ponder over this a little longer and come up with a concrete plan for college.
My father and I had simultaneously stumbled across the announcement for this scholarship on the Daily Star, around the end of December 2018.
To say the scholarship has helped me receive an education much, much diverse than I had dreamt of, would be an understatement. It is because the scholarship has not only allowed me to learn in an environment I had only ever imagined, it has also presented me with opportunities that I had not ever been exposed to. My learning is no longer bound within four walls and just improving my grades, it is also about learning and thinking outside of the box, learning to gain knowledge and being able to apply the knowledge outside of the four walls of the classroom. The scholarship paved me a way to explore my interest in Model United Nations (MUN) and public speaking and improve upon my leadership skills through service-learning. Had I not been granted this scholar- ship to AISD, I would have probably never participated in MUN, or improve upon my public speaking skills given the previous curriculum I was in had not encouraged much of extracurricular activities. Additionally, studying in a community as diverse as AISD has opened up more perspectives for me to understand, respect and work with, given we all come from different nationalities and backgrounds. The IB Diploma programme is quite demanding and stressful; however, the learning environment makes all the difference as I am encour- aged to take risks and be an active learner rather than a passive one, and thus making the workload of the diploma manageable. Coming from a curriculum that mostly encouraged memorization, it took me a few months to get used to studying at AISD, because properly understanding the topic was more important than simply regurgitating facts on a sheet of paper. However, the way of learning at AISD, I believe, has suited me better because there is not just one singular structure to learn in. I can demonstrate my learning in various forms and learn in different ways so that my knowledge can benefit me to its best ability.
The valuable opportunity of attending SAISA Art meets, partaking in Discovery trips and MUN conferences through AISD has helped me shape a better understanding of the world and the role I play in it, thus prepar- ing me for the “grown-up” world equipped with real-life lessons.
Have I ever known her personally? No, that I have not had the fortune to. However, Abinta is someone I truly wish I had had the chance to meet in real life because that would have been an honour. The dreams she had for the underprivileged and financially suppressed had resonated with me on a personal level, and I am sure it had done so with many others of our generation because we too have glimpsed into the harsh fate those in poverty faced through our car windows as we sped past them, and hoped we could somehow do something to change that. While most of us, in our teen years, dream of getting out of the country and possibly building a career abroad to be able to support our family in future, the fact that Abinta’s dream was to contribute to improving the lives of the underprivileged here in Bangladesh awes me. I am inspired in the way her selfless- ness and kindness had bled into her everyday life and how passionately she had wanted to do something to improve the lives of the deprived because, from her vantage point, they too deserve all the opportunities many of the privileged enjoyed, or had no regards for. When the news of the Abinta Kabir Foundation had been broadcast on the television, I remember thinking that Abinta, because she had touched people’s lives in such a profound manner, can now live on to be the aspirations of so many more, and can rest in peace know- ing so many others are determined to help power her dreams forward to make sure her hopes for an NGO for the underprivileged are no longer a blueprint in her journals. She, I believe, is the perfect embodiment of what optimism, kindness and passion look like when merged and I am truly grateful of having had the opportunity to have been able to glimpse into her life through the Foundation.
I am truly grateful of having been given the chance to work with the Abinta Kabir Foundation and for provid- ing me with a platform to volunteer at and be a part of the team that works to keep Abinta’s dreams alight. Working with the girls at the Foundation’s school has deepened my understanding of the struggles they face in their daily lives and how much of my life I take for granted. The Foundation has helped me grow upon my desire to help those who are less fortunate than I am, and for allowing me to do so by working beside them. I hope that I can keep volunteering at this place in the future, regardless of where I am in life because the opportunity to volunteer at this place has changed my outlook in life, and made me aware of the hardships and struggles innumerable others face in their lives. While leading our school’s service learning for the AKF School, I had had the fortune of bonding with the schoolgirls, and I am thankful for that opportunity. The girls, with their hopes and dreams for their future, motivate me to work harder for them and myself so I can, with others who dream the same dream, create a future where the underprivileged are no longer suppressed and we all can play a part in maintaining a sustainable and just world. I hope that by volunteering here I can aid in pushing the movement forward and including many more in Abinta’s dream, so her dreams can take flight to help provide education and improve lives of the financially challenged girls in Bangladesh.
Planning for the future scares me, but I suppose we all must have at least a skeleton of a plan to evaluate our goals for our future. Regarding college, currently, my plans are directed towards applying to a liberal arts college in the United States. However, regarding what I want to major in, I am still undecided between either Economics or any major closely related to English Literature. Who knows, if I can, I may even do a double major! And career-wise, I hope to be able to work in a platform as influential and powerful as perhaps the United Nations, because it works towards a just and sustainable world, and I hope to be a part of the change that makes the world a better. And personally, I hope that if I get the opportunity to work on a platform like that, I can bring the experience back in Bangladesh where I would be able to put that experience to work and help change make changes in the society so it can become a safe place for the women, the children, the LGBT community and the underprivileged.