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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Shafinaz


 

I come from Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh where I used to live with my family, parents and sisters and was engaged as a lecturer in the department of Architecture in a private University. I grew up observing my parents’ aspiration for education and their perseverance as government servants. My father retired from his service as the director of Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI) this year and my mother is engaged as an associate professor in a public medical college. I am the eldest among my siblings and growing up in a family that prioritizes education. Three of us has developed an urge for higher studies and career success as well.
I graduated in 2012 from a public university in architecture which was situated in a different city and being distant from my family I learned to live by myself and cope with all the odds. Returning home upon completion of B Arch, towards the beginning of my career as an architect, I found myself ensnared in such a milieu where an average architect’s role was devoured into excessive commercialization of architecture unequivocally belonging to the aristocrats of the society. I realized, the scope to work for the wider community would be my salvation. I decided to remain in academic arena where I could engage myself in research to find ways to impact people’s lives. The challenge of housing scarcity in the context of growing population and climate change shaped my career interest greatly. I have observed that Bangladesh govt. and international organizations have funds for development but most of the projects often fail to address the long term betterment of people’s lives as it tend to expect immediate outcomes. Moreover,  both in personal and career life I have observed the challenges of women, and their invisible role toward our society has also influenced me to want to advocate for them. These realizations made me look for broader aspects of lives and provided me with an urge to step out globally to understand how the whole world is dealing with the struggles. This is when I decided to study urban planning and pursue higher degree abroad.
To aspire to follow own dreams for a woman from the global south is a challenge indeed and the Fulbright award has provided me the opportunity to live my dreams. My acceptance by the DKG world fellowship program provided me with not just financial assistances but more with high hopes and confidence to dare to dream and go for it. I am personally motivated especially for being accepted by a women’s organization as I look forward to represent world’s women. I aspire to stand by women of the world to empower them to live their dreams; I want to work for the world to become a place without disparity of race and gender; I dream of representing women, and the world fellowship program by accepting me as their grantee has incepted more confidence in myself by proving that I am worthy. At present I am a graduate student at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in department of Urban & Regional Planning where I am concentrating on the sphere of housing, race & gender, refugee settlements etc. I plan to pursue PhD following my master’s and continue teaching in the University as well as research endeavors back in Bangladesh. I dream of working the UN someday and continue to serve for humanity.   

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