In 2009, Bangladeshi student Shubham Roy took part in an array of community service projects while participating in the Global Connections and Exchange Program in the U.S. One of Shubham’s most memorable experiences was spending time with students with special needs at Waterloo Junior High School.
“One day at lunch, I saw a special needs student cleaning tables in the cafeteria from his wheelchair,” explains Shubham. “I was really moved by that scene. The fact that this boy, despite having health problems, was still giving his best effort to work was hugely inspiring.”
Shubham was so motivated by this experience that he asked his host teacher to spend time in the classroom of the students with special needs.
“In the special needs classes, I could see that the teachers were very patient and helpful,” Shubham says. “I hung out with a couple of the students, and we played video games together. I think these experiences impacted me more than anything because in Bangladesh, special needs kids are often not treated properly.”
Shubham’s time in the U.S. was further enriched through a volunteer opportunity at D.C.’s Central Kitchen. Though challenging at first, it turned out to be an extremely rewarding experience.
“I was so grateful that everyone was so patient with me, and also inspired to know how many famous people had also volunteered there,” says Shubham. “It was touching to see D.C. Central Kitchen provide food security to people who can hardly manage two meals a day.”
In addition, Shubham visited a Muslim school and met with some Bangladeshi students. He was most impressed with their experiences living in the U.S. and being treated equally here.
“They said I should interact with Americans as much as possible and represent Bangladeshi culture with dignity,” says Shubham. “Hearing their stories made me realize that people come to the United States from all parts of the world and live together peacefully, which makes this a very diverse country.”
Please note: Currently, The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs does not have a Global Connections and Exchange (GCE) program with Bangladesh.