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Guest Blog: Ecotourism at Panigram Provides a New Perspective on Bangladesh

Posted by on September 25th, 2013

Panigram Apprenticeship Experience guest and Dhaka Tribune reporter Sheikh Mohammad Irfan observes the introduction of eco-friendly tourism in Bangladesh, exemplified by Panigram Resort.

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When someone hears the word “Bangladesh,” the first thing that usually comes to mind is Dhaka city, notorious for its congestion, pollution, and impoverished population. But what if all that could change?

Excluding its capital city, Bangladesh is somewhat of an untapped treasure, hidden from global attention and enjoyed only by the locals. From the mystical forests of the Sunderbans to the breathtaking tea gardens of Sylhet to the beaches of Cox’s Bazaar, the natural beauty of the country is mostly admired by Bangladeshis escaping the noise and bustle of the city. Those tourists who do visit mostly stay in commercial hotels and rarely get a fully authentic experience of Bangladeshi culture.

Scenic view along Panigram's vangari village tour route.

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One Billion Rising Flash Mob in the Panigram Village!

Posted by on February 14th, 2013

On February 14 Panigram Resort joined with activists around the world for One Billion Rising, the largest day of action in the history of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Panigram organized a dance flash mob in their village as part of the One Billion Rising campaign. About 100 women, 100 girls, and 200 men participated in the dance mob as a call to end violence against women and for gender equality.

The mob was lead by more than 80 of the participants in Panigram’s English and hospitality training program and 30 of the resort’s female construction workers; the trainees and workers are all residents of the villages surrounding the resort. Many of the women in the program, who come from conservative Muslim families, were worried about dancing in public. At the practice session the ratio of men to women was four to one, however on the day of the event men and women showed up in equal numbers (though the men were less afraid to step up and dance!) Women in bright red burqa danced alongside young girls in pink dresses. Girls from the women’s college, high school, and primary school tied red ribbons around their wrist and joined the dance party in the town square.

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Construction Work Begins!

Posted by on December 23rd, 2011

This is the site of our first bungalow – the “Jackfruit Bungalow” (so named because of its location in our jackfruit grove.) The tree in the middle (not a jackfruit) will unfortunately need to be removed, but we are shifting the bungalow a bit to try to save the nice jackfruit tree at the back. Stay tuned for more construction updates!

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English Lessons Resume in the Local Village

Posted by on July 17th, 2011

Through our days documenting the village neighboring Panigram, we have come to know many of the local children quite well.  As we walked through the village, they would follow us energetically and inquisitively, watching us sketch, listening to us speak, and examining every little move we made.  The children would point to animals, plants, food, or anything else that might (or might not) interest us, and relay its name to us in Bangla, laughing at our poor pronunciation a few times until we said the word correctly.  In exchange, we would teach them the word in English, which they were so anxious to discover.  These interactions were the first days of our English lessons, which have now officially located to the village school on Friday mornings.

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Exploring Bangladeshi Mud Architecture

Posted by on June 29th, 2011

Kar ghor eta? Rahna ghor kothay? Ke ekhane thake?
Whose room is this? Where is the kitchen? Who stays here?

 

A woman outside of her mud home in one of the villages near the Panigram site.

Over the last couple weeks, we three interns explored a village near the Panigram site to learn about the Bangladeshi homestead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mud and Mangoes

Posted by on June 24th, 2011

Now, after almost two weeks of settling into our humble abode in Jessore, we interns, have become quite adjusted to our new lifestyle abroad.  We eat our egg and ruti in the morning before our hour-long autorickshaw ride to the project site; a ride which often makes me think of getting pulled down bumpy sidewalks as a child in my little red metal wagon.  Here, though, the sidewalk is eight feet wider and trucks stacked twenty feet high with local goods like hay, bricks, or goats (though not usually all three together…) fight at top speeds for the extra sliver of road beside me.

Millie waits for our driver Rafik in the autorickshaw.

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Introducing the Interns…

Posted by on June 13th, 2011

We have a great group of interns this year, all architects who will be helping us construct our site office to test out our mud building techniques.

Bradley Kinsey

Bradley Kinsey

Raised on steak, potatoes, and public pools, Bradley was your quintessential product of the American midwest. While the suburbs of Chicago offered him a side yard and picket fence, the idea of  varying topography and open space was all too alluring, so he packed up for the University of Colorado. While at C.U., Bradley’s appetite for new cultures was heightened as he studied abroad in Italy and traveled throughout Europe with the university’s snowboard team. When it was time to move on, Brooklyn, New York came calling to him with a similar lure as Colorado, being the pursuit of architecture and the excitement of a foreign land. Read the rest of this entry »

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