Had I not got the opportunity to volunteer at the Building Bridges Coalition (BBC) Forum on 14 June, themed as “International Volunteering and the 2030 Development Agenda: Forging Global Development Outcomes, Research, and Alliances”, I would not be able to realize that the services I provided as a student during my academic years were aligned with the resolutions formed by BBC to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)! When BRAC Institute of Languages (BIL) (then – “Center for Languages”) initiated the recruitment of students of BRAC University in 2008 to be the trainers of the Medhabikash project of BRAC to support the talented underprivileged youth of Bangladesh through English Language and Computer Literacy Training, I jumped right in! 14th of June, year 2016, Brookings Institution, I felt instantly drawn to the innovative goal of BIL with the leadership of Lady Syeda Sarwat Abed and empower the capacity of young individuals coming from all across the country. The lessons were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the resolutions of BBC Forum created by multi-sectoral and industrial leaders to be implemented in the upcoming 3 years.
My day on the 14 of June started with one of the top responsibilities – attending the VIP guests of the BBC Forum. The event that was inaugurated by the Colin Powell – the former Secretary of State, in 2006, was now glorified to have General Stanley McChrystal at its 10 year celebration. The objective of the forum was to unveil the capacity of volunteers to meet the 2030 Goals. It was the vision of President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver to establish an abroad-based service fifty years ago through public and private support. One very interesting outcome of the resolution of BBC Forum was to support the SDGs. They had many Working Groups on different areas of discussion moderated and discussed by top-notch leaders from different fields and expertise such as Amanda Khozi Mukwashi – Chief of Volunteer Knowledge & Innovation Section at UN Volunteers, Vanessa Kerry of Seed Global Health, and Laura Ashbaugh from Chevron, and many others. One of such working groups was entitled “University Campus Engagement and SDG Research” where I was playing the role of a Rapporteur.
The outcomes that we came up with were as follows:
- Gather case studies on universities with effective models of service, to allow for applications and innovation.
- Expanding on capital opportunities from private sectors so that service opportunities can be democratized.
- Create a culture of service within a faculty and body of students.
I found 3 very important things after training youth volunteers of the Medhabikash project at BRAC University:
- How much potential the young people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds actually had.
- What great opportunities for the students of BRAC University like myself existed.
- What NGOs like BRAC was doing to support the education of the youth!
This can be a great case study for other universities to learn from – about how to create a culture of service within a faculty and body of students. In the future they can also expand on capital opportunities from private sectors as I know there are corporations in Bangladesh trying to support volunteerism in many ways. Very soon, Bangladesh can make a significant leap by leveraging the youth potential and their leadership to support the SDG fulfillment.