Conversations with Daniel: Voices from Bogura

Interview by Daniel (he/him), 26 QLD

We discuss the big, generational issues affecting young people in Bangladesh – in Part Three of my journey to amplify voices in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the couple of days I’ve been in India, I am not only learning about India – I am also getting a crash-course on some regional neighbours of my home country Australia. Learning new words, histories, and customs. Hearing songs, receiving gifts, and watching – and occasionally participating (badly) in dances.

Young people from across the Asia-Pacific are so proud of who they are and where they came from. So unabashedly eager to share and represent their cultures.

Which brings us to Everest – a new friend that I made at the event, representing Bangladesh. Everest is a Board Member / Chairperson for an organisation, much like Hero and me. He also chairs a youth subcommittee. This was his first international event – something we have in common.

He has an interesting and impressive background. But the thing that took us all by surprise, was his deep knowledge of Australian ‘culture’. His understanding of Aussie customs and ‘boganisms’ is not surface level – it is studied and practiced. Everyone knows Crocodile Dundee – but only the truly dedicated know Karl Stefanovic or profess to be fans of Packed to the Rafters. He’s picked up most of these things from Australian Twitch streamers – while listening to their commentary.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Bangladesh – which is why I was eager for an interview. Here’s what Everest had to say:

Everest and Daniel

How has been your experience at the event so far?

It’s been really eye opening. I was very thrilled, but I was also nervous. But now I can sense that no, I was actually meant to be here. I’ve met with so many new people, I’ve had different conversations. Some fun and some serious. Now I’m seeing that, okay, now I have a lot of exposure to more and more cultures, traditions, I am learning about some things beyond the media and beyond the television screen or the internet. I’m very humbled by this experience.

What is the most interesting thing you’re doing right now as a youth representative?

Right now, it’s about introducing these global ideas and movements to young people, because I don’t know how far through to the grassroots level it has reached. That is my first target – to actually send young people along to get them informed and help them understand their responsibilities [in my country]. This is so we can have a sustainable future and keep the world running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

What is the number one issue affecting young people in your community?

Since our country is on the eastern side, we have a traditional viewpoint or traditional way of upbringing. But due to recent Western media consumption, I will say that we’re getting more and more modernised to the point that we’re losing our traditional values.

There is also now a significant generational gap of opinions. I would say that a lot of young people would feel that they don’t relate to their parents as much as they should, because their parents probably don’t understand their viewpoints. They don’t understand mental health because they have never been taught about mental health.

Do you believe improving mental wellbeing are achievable goals for young people?

I don’t know. Nothing is absolute, everything is relative. I’m not 100% confident that we’ll be able to fulfil everything. We have a lot of challenges. Each goal has different targets – not to mention we have so many different countries. Trying to get them to agree to fulfil everything, with limited resources, is obviously a tough and challenging task.

But if I just spew out skeptical remarks, then it wouldn’t be fair, because people are blessed with different levels of resources and different levels of abilities. But that doesn’t hinder them from being able to complete – if they have the right mindset and they are steadfast towards their targets. If they work hard to make proper plans, then I would say that we can at least 70 to 80 percent of the way.

 

It was an exceptional interview, and I was left with a lot to reflect on.

Everest made a point when introducing himself, that he was a third-generation member in his organisation. I suspect that experience, of feeling you have to live up to the successes of the past, is commonplace. A lot of young people feel the pressure of having “big shoes to fill”. It can’t be easy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, mental health was also brought up as a major issue affecting Bangladesh – much like Hero in the context of the Philippines. His comments about the generational gap in understandings about mental health is also very interesting. The problems with mental health may be exacerbated by a lack of understanding from those closest to us. Education on these issues should be shared across generations.

I was also inspired by Everest’s comments that different levels of resources, and different levels of abilities, shouldn’t hinder countries from contributing to global missions and movements – particularly as they pertain to young people. It is an unusually positive outlook.

We tend to speak in absolutes, but Everest reminds us that some progress is better than no progress.

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio