| March 24th, 2016

Friends of Adhunika: Impacting Change One Skype Session at a Time



Ishita Uddin with students of Adhunika during Skype session. Photo: Niaz U.

The inception of the Skype session workshops, which enables volunteers -friends of Adhunika from Adhunika Foundation- to engage in dialogue involving a multitudinal set of topics with students at Adhunika Women’s Center in Dhaka, took place in the latter part of 2013.  The sessions materialized as a result of the desire to interconnect volunteers in the U.S. and participants in Bangladesh.  While the initial goal, as requested by the students, was to strengthen their English speaking skills by encouraging them to converse using the language, it has morphed into addressing crucial social issues such as women’s rights to analyzing literature written by 19th century European authors.

This year, the workshops were moderated by the following friends of Adhunika:  Founder and President, Shahnaz Yousuf; Ishret Shimu, a marketing and commercial analytical professional; Yousra Yusuf, a PhD student of Public Health; Shahreen Rahman, a former undergraduate program manager for international students; Dr. Kyoko Mona, Associate Professor of Economics; Roshni Basu, a pharmaceutical consultant; Arisa Mohiuddin, a high school student; and myself, Ishita Uddin, a high school English teacher.  The sessions took place over a span of eight weeks from January 15 to March 18.  Volunteers and students convened once a week for approximately an hour and half.


Kyoko Mona Photo: Aram B.


Ishret Shimu Photo: Fariza H.


Yousra Yusuf Photo Source: Yousra Y.


Shahreen Rahman with Skype Students & staff of AWC. Photo: Nazma, AWC


Student talking to Arisa Mohiuddin . Photo: Nazma, AWC


Students talking to Roshni Basu Photo: Nazma, AWC


Shahnaz S. Y Photo: Sid S. Y.


Skype Students talking to the instructor. Photo: Nazma, AWC

The initial meeting, conducted by Mona, rationalized the mission of the program.  I engaged the students in comprehending and analyzing literature in the following session.  The focus was not only to provide exposure to text written using the English language but also to convey the significance of being passionate about the path in life one chooses to follow.  This session served as a segue to Ishret’s focus on pursuing the ideal professional path where she reiterated that along with one’s situation in life,  the career of choice may alter as well.  An assorted set of services are offered at the center and Shahnaz dedicated her session to ensure that the students were not only aware but also took advantage of them.  Yousra exposed the students to issues related to women’s right with a primary focus on sexual harassment and how to handle unwelcomed gestures.  The logistics involved in the job interviewing process were addressed by Shahreen and Mona.  Public speaking tips were provided by Roshni and Arisa emphasized the relevance of utilizing hobbies effectively.  The concluding session was handled by Shahnaz where the students were given the opportunity to provide feedback on their overall Skype experience.

Majority of the volunteers have had facilitated Skype sessions in the previous year and needless to say, the sentiment remains the same –the experience of interacting with the students in such an intimate manner enhanced the cruciality of the existence of  this organization.  Ishret, a first year facilitator stated, “I only led one session so far and yet had the sense of great accomplishment through the direct connections with the students. Loved hearing about the passions of those bright and energetic students and also be able to answer their questions.”  As far as the students’ perceptions are concerned, their smiling faces clearly reflect their attitude towards this experience.  Several students stated their appreciation for the opportunity to speak English with a fluent speaker.  “After speaking with you in English, I feel more comfortable speaking with my friends,” stated a student.


Students of Skype Session 2016. Adhunika Women’s Centre Photo: Nazma, AWC

Although numerous positive attributes emerged as a result of this program, lack of proper equipment is a quandary that remains unresolved.  Five to six students and the manager of the Center congregate in front of one small computer screen in order to clearly converse with the facilitators.  A bigger screen or a projector remains on the wish list as it could potentially enhance the learning experience and attract a larger number of students.

The Adhunika Foundation heavily relies on both volunteers and monetary donations in order to successfully carry out its mission.  The Skype sessions and other projects undertaken by the Center can make vast improvements primarily through these sincere efforts. And these sincere efforts will ensure that countless women continue to benefit from the Foundation’s effort to equip them with skills required to pursue future endeavors.


Friends of Adhunika:  Impacting Change One Skype Session at a Time by Ishita Uddin – a high school English teacher, & a Friend of Adhunika since 2012.


About this blog

Adhunika blog is launched with a mission to share knowledge among women from every walk of life. Sometime it would be in the form of sharing experience to find a feasible solution of a problem; sometime it would be in the form of professional consultation, which Adhunika group will arrange for its bloggers. Nevertheless, the intent of this blog always remains the same - to help and empower women through a common web-based platform....read more



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