Photo Credit, Geoffrey Hiller “There is a saying in Bangladesh that when expats or diplomats are sent to Dhaka they cry twice. First, when they are assigned to their post and later when they have to leave,” says Fulbright U.S. Scholar Geoffrey Hiller when describing his Fulbright experience in Bangladesh.
Geoffrey, a photographer who taught Interactive Media at the Independent University of Bangladesh during his Fulbright grant, was extremely cautious when he first arrived in Bangladesh. Though he found it to be a “welcoming place for any photographer” he was concerned about what it would be like to photograph publicly in a predominantly Muslim country.
“Bangladeshis in general are extremely extroverted and now that digital technology is becoming more widely available, people on the streets were snapping almost as many photos of me with their cell phones as I was of them,” says Geoffrey.. “I was invited into private homes and madrasses, which serve as orphanages and schools.”
Getting access to electricity and technology, however, proved to be a struggle.
“During the “hot and dry” season when the electricity grid was overtaxed, Dhaka went without power for six hours a day,” says Geoffrey. “This was a problem when I needed lights to work when I taught, not to mention internet access or general electricity.”
Geoffrey found interacting with his students to be the highlight of his experience.
“… The students’ enthusiasm more than made up for the technical challenges,” says Geoffrey. I ended up concentrating on having my students blog. … it’s heartening to see that many of them have used their new-found skill set in their new jobs and internships.”
“The amazing thing is that all forms of journalism, including print, are still in growth mode in Bangladesh, compared to the United States.”