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ULAB Professor Helps Bring Organic Farming to Our Village

Posted by on June 30th, 2013

This week Panigram was host to Shafiqul Islam, a professor from the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. He came to assist the interns in refining the plan for the organic farming test plot. Professor Shafiq is well versed in the methodology and theory behind organic farming as he was actually an organic farmer before he became a professor.

Shafiqul Islam, professor of organic farming at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), and Dudu, a local farmer, discuss the benefits of organic farming.

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2013 Summer Interns Arrive!

Posted by on June 5th, 2013

This is the fifth year that Panigram Resort has hosted summer interns. This year the interns are helping to introduce organic farming into the area and are assisting Nazmeen with the English and hospitality lessons in the village.

Clark Austin

Clark Austin

I am a self described nerd and Biologist that comes from San Diego, California. I have been studying biology for the last nine years. In my schooling I have specialized in botany, ecology, and entomology. While working at Panigram this summer I am concluding two multi-year studies on two separate endangered plant species endemic to Southern California.

I am very excited to start working on an organic farming program in the local village that Panigram is located in. While organic farming is big in America, it has a limited market here in Bangladesh and the possibilities are endless.  I am hoping to utilize my knowledge of plants and insects to facilitate a successful program that will not only benefit the local farmers with higher market prices for their crops, but also increase the health of the ecosystem at large.

I grew up on the east coast of the United States and have traveled extensively. I like to cook very much and as a result wherever I travel I always make it a priority to try the local foods. Having never been to Asia, I am very excited to see a whole new side of humanity, and new forms of food I have never encountered.

Jordan Gascon

Jordan Gascon

Hello my name is Jordan Gascon and I am from San Diego, CA. I studied international security and conflict resolution and specialized in conflict, conflict resolution and cooperation at San Diego State University. I continued my studies at Norwich University in Vermont and received my Master’s in Diplomacy and specialized in international conflict management. I have always been a problem solver and a people person. Throughout my studies I have had the opportunity to visit many different countries including Estonia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Russia.

In each country I realized that I was inherently interested in the people’s culture and religions. I found myself trying to learn their language and teach them a little bit of English in order to facilitate better communication. I hope to be able to help the English program and the Panigram Apprenticeship program in developing stronger staff at the resort. In addition to my studies, I have worked as a biology research assistant in the Ecology Department at San Diego State for  four years. This experience has helped me develop a love of plants and sustainable agriculture. It will be a great honor to help the other interns bring sustainable organic farming to the villages of Bangladesh.

My goals for this internship are to develop lasting relationships with the local population, learn conversational Bangla, improve the English abilities of each English class, learn a little hotel/ resort management skills, and take away a better understanding of the lives of people living in poverty.

Savaila

Savaila

Greetings! I am Savaila, Pakistani native, pursuing a B.S. in Development Studies and Economics from the Asian University of Women Bangladesh. My policy interests are poverty and inequality, community and international development and social entrepreneurship. I love learning, sharing my knowledge, experiencing cultures different from my own, travelling, adventure, music, and surfing the net. This last interest led me to the internship at Panigram Resort. Various projects of Panigram resort are giving back to the community to empower those from disadvantaged communities in Panigram.  I am currently working on the organic farming project at Panigram. We had a meeting last week with some of the local farmers, and I was excited by how interested they are to work with us. So far, we have planned to do research on the prices of the vegetables and fruits in the different steps of the chain of selling vegetables and fruits. I am excited to be an intern and looking forward to work on the project.

Syeda Jeena

Syeda Jeena

Assalamu Alaikum! This is Syeda Jeena from Chittagong, Bangladesh, studying BSS in Economics and Mathematics, in an international university named Asian University for Women. By being fortunate of living with multicultural people and by learning about their culture and countries, I have always been excited to visit their places. However, before visiting the neighboring countries, I have always thought of visiting at least the 7 divisions of my mother country, Bangladesh. I have been living in Chittagong, the 2nd largest division of Bangladesh. Beside the capital Dhaka, this city is called the 2nd capital of Bangladesh. I visited Dhaka, Comilla, Chittagong Hill tracts, Coxs’ Bazaar, Sylhet, and Khulna. Just a few days before, I arrived in Jessore in order to do my Summer Internship this year here at Panigram.

When I first saw the webpage of Panigram, I was totally amazed by its mission and vision. I could guess to learn more about this project alongside the underprivileged people’s lifestyle by working with the people in Panigram. Panigram is truly an amazing place to stay. The people here and their hospitality, the food and the environment are excellent. I was truly stunned to see the innovative ideas and design of the cottages and the inside furniture and other materials that were used in the construction of the resort. All the materials are Bangladeshi which makes me really proud.

I am working now with my group mates to build the organic farming initiative here at Panigram in order to promote healthy crop production. We have been working with the farmers and villagers. The field work is very exciting, enjoyable, and knowledgeable.  I hope to learn many more new things from this summer work and come back here again after the resort is open.

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“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

Posted by on November 11th, 2012

As a teacher, when you’re with your students, experiencing their growth as it happens, sometimes it’s difficult to realize how far they’ve come. Sometimes you need a little perspective.

Well that’s exactly what happened when our new students arrived.

As I sat giving the new students their preliminary speaking evaluations, I was reminded of the original students (whom we have lovingly named our “Pioneers”). Back in June, the Pioneers were awkward and confused. They either quickly blurted out whatever English they had memorized or sat looking at me blankly, answering every question with, “Yes.”

“Ma’am. Panigram Resort is very, very wonderful. I love Panigram Resort.”

“Oh, thank you. That’s nice. Now, what do you see in the picture?”

“Yes.”

“What is the boy doing?”

“Yes.”

“How is the weather?”

Silence.

Over the past few months, I’ve been so focused on our goal ahead and all the work required to reach it that I had forgotten where we started.

Meeting the new students, I was reminded. Reminded of my first few lessons back in June, when I was still figuring out how much English skill the students really had. Reminded of the patience and repetition required to explain seemingly simple tasks. Reminded how overwhelming it all seemed.

Now, when I teach a class to the Pioneer students, they’re no longer awkward. It’s no longer laborious to give instructions. They no longer stare at me blankly and answer every question with, “Yes.” They do still tell me how much they love Panigram Resort, though. (Smile.)

So, as we begin again with the new students, who are still in their awkward phase, I am able to appreciate the progress we’ve made so far and feel even more excited about the progress I know we’ll continue to make.

We still have a long way to go, but there’s no doubt we’re getting there, one English class at a time.

Nazmeen (far left) and Angela (far right) with one of their "Pioneer" classes. (We are still working on breaking them of the Bangladeshi habit of frowning in photos!)

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British Invasion! Our Second English Trainer Arrives

Posted by on November 9th, 2012

We are really gearing up our village training programs now. About 100 new students joined our classes on November 1st, so we had to import another native speaker to help train them in English. Nazmeen Green is the latest addition to the Panigram team. She will be working with Angela to develop our English curriculum. Nazmeen and Angela are also teaming up with our hospitality experts to teach our students how to book spa treatments, make beds, and properly clean rooms. Most of our village staff will have had one year of training (6 classes a week) by the time Panigram opens its doors.

Nazmeen Green

Nazmeen Green Headshot

Nazmeen Green

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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Hospitality 101

Posted by on August 8th, 2012

Students practicing their English

It’s my last opportunity to visit the English classes before I have to leave Bangladesh. I feel both sad and excited when Angela, Yohana, and I arrive at the Union Council building where the classes are held.  It will be the last time that I will see these students, and I’m disappointed that I won’t be around to see them finish their training. But today is also exciting because I know there is something special in store for the students.

Today’s lesson will be taught by Yohana Tsegai, the hotel intern. Angela, the instructor from the U.S., usually teaches the class but will have an assisting role this time. It’s the first time where the roles are reversed for Yohana and Angela.  I’m just as curious and interested as the students to see what the lesson will be like. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s Time for English Class!

Posted by on July 30th, 2012

Angela teaching a class on timeAt the Union Council building, it isn’t difficult to find where the English class is. Out in the courtyard, I only had to follow where the loud, excited voices were coming from. Not to mention that the groups of children and adults peering into one of the rooms was a good giveaway that there was something interesting going on inside or perhaps that a foreigner was present—or maybe both!

Last month, Panigram Resort started its English classes to increase the language skills of those interested in becoming a Panigram employee.  All of these students are currently from the surrounding villages near the resort. They come to class eager to participate and learn. In fact, students usually rush to answer the questions if not shout them out. It’s probably every teacher’s dream to have such eager students. Read the rest of this entry »

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First Impressions: Assessing the Local English Abilities

Posted by on June 30th, 2012

Students taking the English Assessment Test at site

Angela Jacobus and Yohana Tsegai walk around the temporary entrance area of the Panigram site preparing for their first meeting with their students.  Dozens of potential Panigram staff are here to take an English assessment test. The testing area doesn’t seem like the typical place where one would take an exam. It’s a sandy, open-air area shaded with lush tropical trees. It’s also perfectly located to catch the cool breeze. The day is beautiful and I can’t help but associate this spot with visions of  hammocks and piña coladas. Read the rest of this entry »

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