About NazmeenGreen

NazmeenGreen

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Assalam alaikum! I’m Nazmeen Green and I have been working alongside Angela as an English trainer at Panigram for the last month. I was born and raised in England, where I decided at quite a young age that I wanted to teach English in either France or Germany. However, after graduating with a degree in languages from the University of Wales, Swansea, I realized that I needed a short break from studying in which to travel. I set off for a one-year teaching contract in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I eventually stayed for eight years. While visiting some friends in Dhaka earlier this year, I was struck with a feeling of belonging. The warmth of the local people and their acceptance of me made me feel instantly at home, especially when they heard that I was a recent convert to Islam. I started looking for work in Bangladesh and struck gold with Panigram. I am really excited to be part of such an interesting project and to be working with some wonderful people. I have been delighted to see the eagerness of the students and the way Panigram is contributing in a positive way to the local community. I look forward to seeing both the students and the resort develop over the next year.

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Visualizing Sound

Posted by on April 24th, 2013

One of the key things we try to work on with our Panigram trainees is their pronunciation. Many of the students have good vocabulary, grammar and confidence, but sometimes the clarity of their speech is not perfect.

To try to improve this, we have been teaching the students the International Phonetic Alphabet (I.P.A.). This is a globally recognized system of writing the pronunciation of words. You may have seen in it in dictionaries, usually in parentheses directly after each entry. The I.P.A. uses symbols, derived from the Latin and Greek alphabets, to clearly show both the sounds used in a word and the word stress.

The I.P.A. helps learners to visualize speech by thinking about the shape of their mouth when they make each sound. While it is a difficult thing to learn, it is well-known that a solid knowledge of the I.P.A. can help second-language learners to greatly improve their pronunciation.

With this in mind, I began by teaching the twelve simple vowel monophthongs (sounds like eeeee, ooooo, aaaaa, ih and ah), doing a number of exercises to make the classes think about the shapes their mouths were making. For example, try holding your finger to your lips, as if shushing someone, and then say ‘eeee-oooo-eee-ooo’. You will feel your lips coming forward and back, from a wide smile to a round kiss.

This, while being very amusing to the students, also made them think that I had lost my mind. For the following few days, I got phone calls from students just so that they could practice the sounds down the line. Things got trickier when I introduced the eight diphthongs, which are combinations of monophthongs, that make sounds like oi and ow. This had the students somewhat bewildered, but I promised them it would be worthwhile in the end.

Yesterday, I taught the classes the 24 consonant sounds. As many of these symbols are similar to the the Latin ABC’s, the students were a little more confident.

At the end of the class, I wrote a long paragraph on the whiteboard, using only the I.P.A., and asked them to read it. Together, the students figured out the message.

As I turned from the board to face them again, I could see that a light had come on in most of their minds. The I.P.A. penny had finally dropped and I was no longer just a crazy lady making strange noises.

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Goading for Ghur

Posted by on February 5th, 2013

Student Ikram climbs the date palm tree to show us how they collect the sap called "rosh". This sap can either be drunk straight from the tree or boiled into a sticky sweet syrup called "ghur".

I love our students for many reasons, but one in particular is their helpfulness. No matter what Angela and I are doing, someone will offer to assist us.

We decided to go for a walk in the village last week to buy a cold drink. Barely a hundred meters from the classroom door, we met Bashir. After a dozen questions, we managed to convince him that we didn’t need any help going for a walk. A little further down the road, we passed Zia’s laundry shop, where we once again explained that we were just fine. We made it to the intersection to be greeted by Rasedul, Hashib and Abhijan. As Abhijan has a small store, we decided to buy our drinks from him.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have the exact thing we were looking for and, without hesitation, Rasedul ran up the road to another shop to get it. In the meantime, we were instructed to sit and wait. We argued that we were out for a walk, not a rest, but our protests went unheeded. It was unthinkable for our students to let us stand in the street, where we may get tired or uncomfortable. Finally, we got our drinks and returned to class.

Angela and I decided to put our student’s hospitality to the test last week at Ikram’s birthday party. Angela told Ikram (another one of our students) that she wanted to drive a cow-cart and asked who could show her how. To our host’s dismay, his cousin told us that Ikram knew how to do it. So, on the way back after lunch, a passing cow-cart was flagged down and Ikram gave us a demonstration. Angela didn’t get to drive it herself, but at least we have seen how it’s done.

Our next desire was to see how the delicious local drink rosh is collected. Once again, Rasedul and Ikram came to our aid, arranging for another villager to climb the date-palm and give us a show. Up he went, with his billhook and clay pot, cut a channel in the tree trunk, wedged in a peg to direct the flow of the sap, and affixed the pot.

Of course, that wasn’t enough of a show for the demanding English teachers.

“Ikram, can you climb a tree like that?” I asked.

“No, mam.” he replied, with terror in his eyes.

“Yes, he can!” interjected Rasedul, the troublesome cousin.

“Please, climb the tree for us.” we pleaded. How could they resist?

Rasedul tried and made it a couple of meters up before losing his nerve. Ikram, the alledged professional, tied a knot in his lungi, strapped on the billhook and, looking the part at least, set off up the palm. He didn’t make it much higher than Rasedul before posing for photos and sliding back down.

We decided that we should give the students a weekly challenge like this. We are justifying it by saying it will prepare them for dealing with the needs of Panigram guests. Seriously, though, it’s all in good fun! We think that our students are as amused by our curiosity as we are by their generosity!

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Astonishing Dedication: Villagers Make Panigram Training Their Top Priority

Posted by on December 1st, 2012

As part of Panigram’s philosophy of responsible tourism, we have set ourselves a number of targets regarding the demographic of our workforce. Our primary aim is to take as much of the workforce as possible from the local community in order to boost the economy of the area. We also pride ourselves in employing a relatively large proportion of women: our current male-female ratio stands at approximately 140:80.

Looking to the future service staff of the resort, we are constantly recruiting potential employees. We have frequent recruitment drives, including a speed interviewing process. Successful applicants are invited to attend our training program, through which they learn both hospitality skills and English communication. The scheme will continue until such time as the resort opens its doors, when participants will be offered appropriate positions according to the standards they have achieved.

While we try to include as many people as possible in the training program, there are some applicants who are unable to attend due to a variety of factors. A few of these factors are explained in the following insight into the background of our trainees.

Education
All participants of the training scheme have gained their S.S.C (Secondary School Certificate) at the age of 16. Most continued on to complete the H.S.C at 18 and some have passed (or are currently studying towards) a bachelor’s degree. A few even have master’s degrees and some experience working in the hospitality field.

Home Life
In Bangladesh, and particularly in rural areas like Jessore, it is normal for people to marry quite young, often between the ages of 18 and 25. Once married, couples tend to start families straight away. Therefore, many of the trainees have young families and the commitments that come along with them. Trainees who are not yet married generally live in a joint family system, with many siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. all living in a single compound.

As Panigram is being built in a small village, the homes of our trainees can be anything up to 10km from the classroom. Our participants usually walk or ride bicycles to class, as many of them have no other mode of transport. This takes some students upwards of 30 minutes.

Employment
Another aspect that should be considered is that while participating in the program, the trainees are not yet employed by Panigram. Most of them earn their modest income through agriculture and take time from their farming work to attend our classes.

When all of these factors of distance, transport, education, work and family commitments are taken into consideration, the dedication that we see in the trainees each day is outstanding. It is very rare that someone is absent from class and, if they are, they usually try to come to a makeup class later in the day. After a 15 minute walk in the rain, there is still an enthusiastic smile on each face.

The positive attitudes I observe in my students each day makes teaching them a real pleasure!

Most students walk or ride bicycles to class from the neighbouring villages.