A small town boy on international stage

Talebur Islam Rupom | Published: 00:00, Mar 31,2019 | Updated: 22:52, Mar 30,2019

Youth Experience

Talebur Islam Rupom at the Telangana Jagruthi International Youth Leadership Conference

From an introvert school boy, he happens to represent Bangladesh in four international conferences. His transformation, in his words, is driven by the need to work for the community and make a better society for the future. Describing his journey from a small town boy to representing his country on international stages, writes Talebur Islam Rupom 

I have graduated from the department of English and humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh a few weeks ago. As I rewind the recent years, it surprises me to see how much I have transformed from an extreme introverted and slow learner into a cooperative quick learner.

Representing my country on a global stage has always been a dream since I was a child. I grew up in a small town of Bangladesh and yet, one day my dream came true. At the age of 21, I waived the flag of my country at International Youth Forum on Human Rights and UN SDGs held in Kathmandu, Nepal in May 2017.

And since then I haven’t looked back. Instead, I kept marching forward with greater speed. As I kept going, I had more opportunities coming my way. I participated in other global events such as Global Partnership Summit held in New Delhi and Jaipur International Model United Nation Conference.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t possibly imagine my dream coming true when I was in school or college. In fact, I did not even have the courage enough to dream anything. I was trapped in a system that did not suit my introvert and slow learning nature. I’ve always had passion for doing community service and international relations. However, I could not gather enough courage to listen to my educational intuition and also, there weren’t any people who I could get support from for pursuing my passion.

I studied science in school and college but I had zero interest in it. I studied science only because I couldn’t let my parents down.  It was pretty scary to walk away in different directions within the existing system. I had to wait for 19 years to finally listen to my institution.

Things started to change from the very beginning of my university days as I left no stone unturned to discover myself in the last four years and responded to my passion for the development of the society. I volunteered in different organisations such as Transparency International Bangladesh, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center, BRAC, Volunteers Association for Bangladesh, ULAB Sustainable Development Club et cetera.

Besides, I have done three internships and worked as a research assistant in two different organisations. Few national and international awards alongside my engagement with sustainable development work for the past four years provided another international exposure for me through Telangana Jagruthi International Youth Leadership Conference.

The theme for this year’s conference, which was held in Hyderabad, India from January 17 to 20, 2019, was — The Gandhian Path to Sustainability and Innovation.

Telangana Jagruthi is India's one of the largest NGOs working on skill development, youth empowerment and women leadership. The conference is a partnership driven program for young leaders across the world who can make a positive impact in their communities and the world at large through the implementation of sustainable development goals.

More than 500 selected delegates from 110 countries participated in the event alongside policymakers, innovators and representatives from different development agencies. From my arrival at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad to my departure at the hi-tech city, it was an extremely enjoyable experience for me in terms of knowing new culture, people, ideas and thoughts, and most importantly, making friends from young delegates to top level policy makers.

Our discussion was not limited to a formal setting. From breakfast to the dinner table, I managed getting myself acquainted with more people and talked about the works that we have done. Delegates were friendly and enthusiastic enough to talk about their cultures, countries and activities. Interestingly, we even took souvenirs from each other’s countries.

At the inauguration of the conference for the gala dinner, we were requested to wear our respective traditional attires by the organisers. There I realised how colourfully diverse the world is. More importantly, I understood that even though we are diversified in culture, we are still unified by our desire for a sustainable world. 

Delegates took an unofficial city tour to Golconda Fort and other nearby places. There, I also found some of my colleagues from the last event that I participated — Global Partnership Summit, New Delhi 2017.  We talked about the works we had done from 2017 till date. With every international event that I have been a part of, I started recognising the fact that the world is becoming smaller day by day.

Prominent Indian social activist Anna Hazare, the governor of Telangana State, members of parliament and state ministers from several countries, and the top representatives from international organisations shared their thoughts, ideas and their actions to achieve SDG.

Also, I personally met people like Ms Seema Malhotra, British MP and former shadow chief secretary to treasury and Mr Andrew Fleming, the deputy high commissioner of Britain and Northern Ireland to India and had productive conversation with them. They showed more interest towards knowing my previous and upcoming works when I mentioned that I received ‘The Duke of Edinburgh International Award’ three consecutive times in gold, silver, and bronze categories for community services in Bangladesh for three consecutive years.

Additionally, I am running a social enterprise called YOUNIFI along with some of my friends. It is an online platform for youth development. I also received the BYLC-UKAID youth leadership prize funded by the department of foreign international development, UK. It was great to share the progress of it with the two British top representatives at the conference.

I met Nepali citizen Mr Arjun Bahadur Thapa, former Secretary General of SAARC who recollected his experiences and visit to Bangladesh. It felt great to know his perspective on youth development and a number of other issues.

I was also lucky to have conversations with Budhika Pathirana, deputy minister of industry and commerce of Sri Lanka, and Mr Gligor Tachkovich, former minister of foreign investment, Republic of Macedonia.

Attending four international events abroad in past two years, I have made friends across the world.  Probably without these international platforms, it would not have been possible to connect with like-minded people from around the world and get the scope to work together and think big.

Prerequisite for any accomplishment is action. Words are not enough. It may take time, maybe longer than you expect; but with determination and hard work, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel and embrace the long awaited success.   

Talebur Islam Rupom is a fresh graduate from University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.

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