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Wintering at Panigram!

Posted by on November 27th, 2013

As we enter into the winter season at Panigram the emerald green fields turn to golden brown as the rice is collected and harvested. In a few weeks beautiful yellow mustard flowers will start popping up all over the countryside. As the weather cools, the date palm sap starts to run. Villagers (and Panigram Apprenticeship guests!) collect the date palm sap called “rosh” and drink it straight from the tree. The sweet, smoky flavored juice that is not consumed by the guests is cooked into a sticky sweet syrup or sugar called khejurer ghur, a true village delight!

Winter time brings delicious date palm juice and khejurer ghur!

We have added some fun new activities to the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience including:

  • Date palm juice collection and ghur making
  • Muri moa (Bangladeshi equivalent of caramel corn balls) cooking class
  • Basket weaving
  • Pottery classes for children
  • Mustard oil collection and processing

For more information on the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience, click here.

Panigram Apprenticeship Experience guest (and father of company founder Kristin Boekhoff!) enjoys some fresh sugar cane on the verandah of one of our bungalows.

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Guest Blog: The “Real” Bangladesh

Posted by on July 4th, 2013

Paola Fornari Hanna, a professional linguist, writer, and trainer and wife of the European Union Ambassador in Bangladesh, recently participated in the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience with her sister, Silvia. She enjoyed her stay so much that she was inspired to write a blog entry for us; we are very happy to publish it!

The Real Bangladesh

Recently my sister Silvia, who lives in Houston, Texas, came to stay. She was our very first visitor in two and a half years in Bangladesh, and was as determined to see, feel and breathe as much of the real Bangladesh as I was to show her.

I had read about the Panigram Apprenticeship Experience, and it seemed to be exactly what we were looking for, so we signed up.  And for three days and two nights, it was one exciting sensory experience after another. Like blissful children, we got filthy mixing mud (and learnt to add jute to strengthen it for fixing cracks).

Mixing Mud Mortar

Read the rest of this entry »

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First Guests Arrive at Panigram!

Posted by on April 14th, 2013

Last weekend Panigram launched our Panigram Apprenticeship Experience! Our guests enjoyed learning how we are building an eco resort out of mud.

Sasha learns our decorative painting technique and creates a gorgeous mural on one of our test mud walls.

Star, Sasha, Sapphire, and Asif learn how to make bamboo chik.

Star, Sasha, and Sapphire practice their new skills at chik making!

Sapphire learns how to make yummy pita out with rice flour, ghur, and coconut.

 Participate in your own Panigram Apprenticeship Experience!

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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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New Winter Intern Arrives: An Internship in Activity Planning

Posted by on December 20th, 2012

Heather Martz has recently joined the Panigram team as our winter intern. When I received Heather’s CV and cover letter, I immediately wanted to hire her. She has hospitality experience (she managed a Starbucks), she embraces a wellness lifestyle (she is a yoga instructor), she is becoming an expert in sustainability (she is a graduate student studying sustainable development), and she loves to travel (she did another internship in Costa Rica). A perfect fit! Unfortunately, the HR person that I hired on a temporary basis to handle our employment applications at the time (unbeknownst to me) sent Heather a rejection letter without even following up! I assumed that Heather had turned down the position until I went back through all of our applications after I dismissed the temporary HR person and found her letter again and noticed the mistake. I emailed Heather explaining the error and, good sport that she is, she forgave our mistakle and decided to come to Bangladesh! In the week that she has been here she has already come up with some great ideas for us and I look forward to seeing her project develop during her stay.

Heather Martz

Heather Martz Headshot

Heather Martz

Aloha and assalam elaiykum! My name is Heather Martz. I am a graduate student at Hawaii Pacific University studying sustainable development. I am a certified yoga teacher, I enjoy making soap, and I love to travel. Bangladesh marks the 23rd country I have had the pleasure of visiting. I have only been here for one week and already I have had some amazing experiences! The people here are extremely friendly and instantly made me feel right at home. I know my time here will be time well spent, making new friends and creating great memories.

As an intern at Panigram Resort, I will be traveling around the villages of Jessore, Bangladesh in search of interesting activities for guests to participate in. Some of the things I will be looking for will include day hikes, bike routes and boating excursions. In addition my sights will be set on local agricultural practices which will help show guests how local production processes in rural villages happen and give them a chance to participate. Promoting local craftsmanship will also be an important aspect of this internship allowing guests to promote the local economy and learn something in the process.

My goal is to assist Panigram in being one of the most successful and unique sustainably conscious resorts available for travelers.