From Bangladesh to Edinburgh Part I

by Muhammad Mustafa Monowar

sit01One line that changed everything- ‘You have been selected for attending the Future News 2015 Conference’.
Well not everything, but that was the beginning of a marvelous journey I was soon to embark on.
A month later, I was sitting in an economy class seat on a Qatar Airways plane, peering out of the window into darkness. Beside me were three other Bangladeshis, Arifa Alam, Ibrahim Mollik and Abdur Rashid Arnob, looking as excited as I was. All four of us were selected by the British Council to attend the conference.
At the time, I was recounting the events of the last month. After a whole day of nine am to six pm work, and attending six pm to nine pm masters classes, I was back home, too tired and sleepy, yet pushing myself to write a five hundred word essay on why journalism needs me. After a month of toilsome paperwork preparation, I actually got the visa to UK.

Day 1
The plane landed in Edinburgh on September 2; we were jet lagged by 12 hours of connecting flight and the chilly wind welcomed us. Next stop – the Pollock halls (near the Holyrood Park road).
We were tired of course, but more eager to explore the beautiful city.
sit02Arthur’s seat, the nearest tourist attraction could be seen from the Turner House, the place we would be staying at during the coming week. We thought it would be an absolute waste of opportunity to miss the view of the city from the hill.
And indeed, not only did we get to enjoy the wide open panoramic view of the city, but also had the perfect opportunity to feast our eyes on the sunset; the shades of vibrant tangerine, lavender, plum and pink seemed like one of Afremov’s surreal impressionistic paintings.

Day 2
It took us a while to figure out how much pound sterling weighed and get used to it. By then we had started admiring the wide open streets and peaceful, neat and clean environment. We took a walk in the St. Leonard’s Church, ended up in Nicolson Street and went as far as till the end of Leith walk. Edinburgh has bus services in different routes and the numbers assigned to one way are flipped opposite on the way back. We took number 14 to Leith Walk and returned in 41; it cost us 1.5 pounds each time.

Journalism Boot Camp
On the morning of September 4, 2015, I found myself standing in front of the Scottish Parliament along with over 50 other young delegates from all over the world (approximately 22 countries). By then I have already got to know some of them- Sarah Paz Martin and Ismario Rodríguez Pérez from Cuba, Kefan Young and Liuyi Ouyang from China, sit03Christina Boutros and Myriam Mansour from Lebanon, Sanjay Kumar from Pakistan, Anastasia Reesa Tomkin from the West Indies, Kristeena Monteith and Walker Bryan from Jamaica —it felt really good to meet people from other cultures. Everyone looked pretty enthusiastic, joyously chatting with each other and taking selfies.
The conference started with the welcome address from the Conference Director, Tom Thomson (Twitter was on fire with everyone in the conference tweeting with #FutureNews2015; all the tweets could be seen live in the screen behind the dais; I tried it too!). The speakers, including Paul Ingrassia from Reuters and DJ MacDonald from STV, were all veteran journalists sharing their experiences and advices. Some of the advices were pretty simple and basic— do your homework before going to the field and maintain credibility— always. Each talk was followed by passionate question-answer session from the young journalists. The first day of conference ended with a tour of the Scottish Parliament and a dinner hosted by Baroness Prashar.
To be concluded in the next issue

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