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Facts about Bangladesh and Itinerary

April 14, 2010

I have some fast facts about Bangladesh. Mostly according to the CIA World Fact Book.Bangladesh Flag

Population: 156,050,883
35% of the population is under the age of 15 and less than 50% of the population can read and write.
45% of the population lives below the poverty line. 63% of the population works in agriculture.
Religion: 83% Muslim, 16% Hindu, 1% other
Area: 143,998 square kilometers (slightly smaller than Iowa)
Flag Description: the red circle symbolizes the rising sun and the sacrifice to achieve independence (from West Pakistan); the green symbolizes the lush vegetation of Bangladesh
Bangladesh achieved it’s independence from West Pakistan in 1971.
Bangladesh is considered a tropical climate. October to March is a mild winter. March to June is a hot, humid summer and June to October is humid, warm and rainy (monsoon season).
The official language is Bangla.
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy and has a judicial system based on English common law.
Cox’s Bazaar is the longest uninterrupted beach in the world.

Bangladesh is crowded. Imagine everyone from California, New York, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas and Oregon all living in Iowa. Or everyone in the US living in Florida. Here’s a video showing the traffic in Bangladesh.

As you may know, the trip to Bangladesh is organized by Northern Kentucky University where I am a graduate student in the master of public administration program. So I’ll get credit towards my masters degree and the experience of a lifetime.

So here’s the (tentative) plan for the five-week trip:

July 4-6: Travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh
July 7: Meet with Grameen Bank staff in Dhaka
July 8-10: Attend seminars and discussions to learn more about Grameen Bank’s philosophy, operations, policies, challenges and impact
July 11-23: Field visit to a rural Grameen Bank branch to see the banks operations first hand, meet and interact with borrows and conduct case studies.
July 24: Visit a garments factory in Dhaka
July 26-29: Meet with and interview Grameen Bank headquarters staff
July 30-August 1: Field trip to tea estates in Sylhet
August 2-3: Travel back to the US

I think I’m most excited for the field visit in rural Bangladesh followed closely by the field trip to the tea estates in Sylhet. I’m not sure what branch we are going to, but I’m sure that it will be valuable experience speaking with the women who have taken loans and who have been successful in their businesses. From reading Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus, it is not uncommon for women to take loans only to be faced with some natural disaster or personal crisis, but I was amazed at the stories Yunus told about women faced with seemingly insurmountable tragedies who find the courage to take another loan to get back on their feet.

We have been told that me might get the opportunity to meet Dr. Yunus. If this happens, I believe this would be the highlight of the trip. We’ll see and I’ll be sure to post immediately if we do get that opportunity.

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