Saturday, December 14, 2019

Thank You Bangladesh

February 25th 2019 - December 13th 2019. Two hundred and ninety three days. That is how many days I have spent living and working in Dhaka, Bangladesh. There was a two-week holiday to Thailand but now here I sit in Sri Lanka reflecting on my journey.

When I was boarding my flight in Toronto I had no idea what to expect from Bangladesh. I knew a bit of the history but that is about it. I read about Dhaka and watched as many videos as I could. However, that usually just scratches the surface. You will never know the true destination, until you have lived there. For almost a year, I did just that. Now, my time in Dhaka is over.

Jokingly a few of us did determine (yes beer was involved) that this was more of a jail sentence than a teaching contract. We needed to do our time as payment for our past sins and with time served, parole with sins abolished. A bit dramatic yes, but I like it. I have done my time, and if our theory is correct and my sins forgiven, it t is time to rejoin society and be an active contributing member of it.

I worked at two different campuses. I have taught grades 1 to 10 English, Science, Social Studies, PE, Art, Health Sciences, Personal Development and Personal Wellness. I became the Principal at the new Wari campus. They do want me to return but it is not an option for me. I do not like being "in charge" anymore. I have done it in my past career and now again here in Bangladesh. For me, it serves no purpose any longer. I need to go back and focus on teaching and only teaching.

Ultimately, I was very happy to have come to Dhaka. It is another place that I can tuck into my life's tool kit and be able to speak about it through real experience. Not by hearsay or whatever the media portrays it to be. Dhaka and Bangladesh are very real places with real people living real lives. Knowing that I was a part of it, even for a short time, empowers me to move forward. I met some great interesting people from all over the world, reminding me how diverse while at the same time, how similar we all are. I hope I never lose sight of that.

If I have any regret, it is not finding the time to explore the real Bangladesh that exists outside of Dhaka. I did wander some neighborhoods, slums and train track communities at which I was always greeted warmly and with the standard "your country?" I could return and explore Bangladesh and its wonderful countryside but it does not capture my heart or imagination like Mexico, Vietnam and Nicaragua. For now, I will hold onto the memories of the people, the students and my experiences that opened my eyes to a new part of the world. One that is growing but mostly ignored.

With that said, my rucksack is packed. Well it was packed but now it is all over the place in my room. Those who know the phrase "I need to repack" will understand. I am tired. For all its wonder Dhaka is a tough city to live in and it can wear you down. A year of waking up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready for my drive to school catches up as well. I remember one day off, I slept in until 7:00 and thought to myself,

"Well, there goes that day. What a waste!" and went back to bed until noon. When I finally crawled out of bed, I had that feeling of knowing that enough was enough. I started counting down the days to my exit.

Now, I have Asia spread out to the East of me. I have time and a bit of money in my pocket. My personal perfect recipe to decompress and regroup. For the next three weeks, it is all about Sri Lanka. Thank you Bangladesh. You were certainly not my favorite but I will not forget you. 

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