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Bangladesh Study Tour Report


(Visit to community group,
JICA Safe Motherhood Project)

As part of practical work for “practicum for Convivial Global Society”, from August 31 to September 7, 2013, ten undergraduate and graduate students carried out a field study in the South Asian country of Bangladesh.

Before embarking on the study tour, we improved our knowledge of Bangladesh by attending classes where we presented our findings on research themes selected according to our own majors and interests. We also attended lectures by guest speakers and a voluntary session to view a video on micro-finance.

Armed with this knowledge, after arrival in Bangladesh we mainly visited projects run by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and BRAC, the largest non-governmental organization in the world. At each of the projects we toured the site, were briefed by project managers, and asked questions. Before leaving Japan, we had nominated certain students to pose questions at each project. Inspired perhaps by the atmosphere of actual project sites, which our pre-tour studies had not been able to impart, other students also actively asked questions, resulting in lively visits. The schedule was quite tough, but enabled us to visit a large number of projects during a fulfilling week.

NGOs are highly active in Bangladesh, with a range of organizations running projects in the country. Actually visiting Bangladesh made it clear that BRAC is particularly involved in the lives of the people. BRAC operates NGO-style projects in fields including micro-finance, public health, and non-formal education, as well as corporate-style projects in the form of social enterprises. The various sites visited provided a strong sense of the broad impact the organization has on people from a variety of backgrounds.

(An elementary school operated by BRAC, an NGO)

JICA staff were of great assistance, taking us on visits to programs and projects related to elementary education and maternal and child health. We spoke with two Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers working at an NGO-operated elementary school as well as the head teacher, enabling us to see exactly what it is like to live alongside the local people, working closely together in cooperation. In the maternal and child health field, visits to a range of public health facilities, from the rural communities to provincial level, showed us schemes for protecting the lives and health of more mothers and children.

Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and the diet and climate are completely different from Japan. As we spent a week in this new cultural environment, each of us probably encountered things we thought were puzzling or strange. However, by visiting a variety of places we experienced the difficulties and the importance of carrying out international cooperation activities with an understanding of a culture different from our own. We learned that some things can only be understood by actually visiting a place, and that it is also important to take those impressions back to Japan and think them over. I hope we will all continue to develop our thinking in our respective fields based on this valuable experience and to be active members of a cooperative society.

(Yuka Izumi, 3rd year, Global Studies for Inter-Cultural Cooperations,
Liberal Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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