On Friday, March 2, the Bangladesh Student Association (BSA) and the UNO Diversity Engagement Center presented another successful celebration of culture, history and language. This year, their event featured a selection of performances that ranged from poetry readings and informative videos to music by students and faculty celebrating their culture.
The purpose of the BSA has always been “to familiarize people with the culture of Bangladesh and ensure continued practice of our own culture, and to create a network for students of Bangladesh that will help them communicate with Bangladeshi students and alumni of the University of New Orleans,” according to their website.
The evening festivities started with an opening speech from the president of the BSA, M. Shafiqur Rahman. He welcomed attendees and thanked everyone for their hard work creating an event that was more extravagant than those in previous years. He mentioned that the BSA is open and welcoming to all — the only set requirement to join is the desire to familiarize oneself with the culture of Bangladesh.
The first set of the evening was a video dedicated to the history of Bangladesh. Highlighting the struggles of people who fought to keep their heritage, it showed that Bangladesh has worked hard to preserve its mother language and remain close to its culture.
While International Mother Language Day can be important to anyone, the people of Bangladesh celebrate their mother language daily. This segued perfectly into the popular Bangladesh song, “Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano,” or “My Brother’s Blood Spattered.” The song played in numerous languages, demonstrating the effects different languages can have on a song, as well as a live performance.
Another video was dedicated to capturing the diverse cultures and languages found at UNO. It depicted an array of students and faculty members who embraced two languages and the pride that they held within themselves.
Dr. Kabir Hassan, who was recently honored by the Academy of Economics and Finance for his research, gave a speech on the power and importance of language. Dr. Abu Kabir Mustafa Sarwar gave a heartfelt reading of a poem that showed the dynamics of language by reading the same poem in two different languages.
However, the most entertaining and engaging parts of the evening came from the live musical performances from the UNO Bangladesh community. These included “We Shall Overcome” by children of the Bangladesh community; “Ami Banglar Gaan Gai,” or “I Sing in the Cant of Bengal” by faculty member and BSA advisor Dr. Farjana Zebin Eishita and a dance that was performed by Bithy Islam.
A game show which celebrated the diversity of the attendees helped to engage the audience. When guests arrived, they were asked to write down their name and include the country they were from. They used these slips of papers to participate in the game show.
The evening ended with a speech from then Dr. Farjana Zebin Eishita. He led the crowd into placing flowers at the shrine that they had created for the evening, giving one final symbolic celebration for International Mother Language day.
President Nicklow said in his speech at the event that it “gets bigger and better every year,” and applauded the BSA for their continued efforts. He also reminded the audience that UNO is home to students from more than 130 countries and has a long-standing tradition of supporting students and their cultures.
The BSA will continue to promote diversity and inspiration on campus. Students who are interested can attend further celebrations of diversity on March 24 at International Night: “Together Towards Tomorrow.”