The BJEP or Bangladesh Japan exchange Program 2.0 came again this year, 2021. The BJEP 2020 was the first exchange program with Bangladesh, held online due to the pandemic. This year, the BJEP 2021 program was executed online due to the barriers by the pandemic situation worldwide. The program was scheduled for 22nd September 2021, but the preparation started a few months earlier. The announcement for this program was declared in April. In May, the unofficial organising team was formed. Five organizers from Bangladesh were assigned to the organising team along with the Japanese organizers. The theme of this year’s event was in debate among the organizers at the beginning. After many online meetings and discussions, the theme which was determined was “Deep Culture”. The main objective of this program was the interaction of people for a better understanding of one's values and standards, creating a platform for reducing the knowledge gap, breaking stereotypes, developing mutual respect and appreciation, and broadening the idea of "acceptance" for cultural differences. Sharing the learning gained from this program will be an essential social contribution for the participants and organizers. The whole program was structured like an onion ring in which each layer contributes to the primary purpose. The program was designed for six consecutive days, but it was changed to seven successive days for achieving its goal. The final day was divided into two days that is day 6 and day 7. Day 6 was designed for the participants and day 7 for the outside world by inviting some chief guests.
Then the team was divided into different groups and were assigned various tasks. The organizers from both counties worked together to plan every step of the main event. The first task was the recruitment process. The organizers shared the circular in different groups and platforms. Then comes the interview part, where the people were asked various questions regarding deep culture and given additional creative questions which could reflect their diverse abilities and skills.
After the interview session, the participants were selected, then comes the preparation of the main program, which was conducted by the three days of the Pre-program. The preprogram was mainly designed for the introduction of the surface culture among the participants of both countries. There were different activities, games, introductory presentations, self-introduction, etc., which acted as an ice break among the participants and helped them open up. They also learned about each country’s surface culture, habits, food, festivals, livelihood etc. After the pre-program, the main program was about to start, and the main tasks of the organizers were to start. The assigned teams were working day and night to make the program smooth and successful.
On 22nd August 2021, the program started. Day 1 was mainly the program’s opening ceremony, which was carried out with some words by the president of AAEE (Asia Association Education and Exchange), the supervisor and guest. The central theme of this day was an introduction to deep culture. The organizers gave a Presentation to introduce the “Deep Culture”. There were some activities and games on Day 1, which made the program’s starting very engaging.
Then the following day, which is Day-2, had the theme social level. The day started with an ice breaker game. The organizers gave a presentation to explain the day’s central theme, goal, and activity. Then there was the first discussion session on society and its untold part, followed by the following discussion sessions on aspects of the society (pros and cons), the present scenario on social issues. It was an intensive discussion day for the participants. At the end of each session, they presented the outcome of the discussions. Day 2 was the first step to reach the deep culture.
Day 3 was based on family. It had different activities which could bring out the values of the participants family. It also had discussion sessions among the participants to share their thoughts, feelings, values that they learned from their family. Day 3 or family plays an essential role in the onion ring to reach the program’s final purpose.
The following Day 4 was based on the individual level. Its main purpose was to learn about the core of deep culture, how an individual perceives the culture from their point of view being a part of the family and society, how an individual has their own set of standards in accepting values. And how this impacts their lifestyle as a part of the culture. The organizers made a video presentation by explaining the day’s activity, which helped the participants get a clear idea of the connection to the main theme. There were discussion sessions and presentations from the participants as well. The individual level or Day 4 was the central core of the onion ring structure, which explains the main outcome of the deep culture.
Day 5 was the preparation day for the participants and as well the organizers. The participants were busy preparing their content for the presentation on the final days. And the organizers were in different meetings to execute the final day flawlessly. Some discussed the invitation process with the chief guests; some were busy making a speech, some were in charge of supervising the participants, and some were busy connecting social media, media, etc. So, it was a very hectic day for the participants as well as for the organizers also.
Then comes the final day for the participants, which is day 6, different participants and organizers from other countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan etc., were invited to the day 6 program. Two from each country, four participants were supposed to give presentations on day 6 and day 7. Still, on day 6, all other participants also shared their valuable presentations on the program’s outcome. Then there was a reelection part where everyone expressed their feelings throughout this journey. Every organizer and participants were very much overwhelmed by seeing the output of the program.
Then the last part of the final day, which is Day 7! The management of this days’ time was crucial as the chief guests will give their precious time for this program and conducted live. The day started with the national anthem of both countries, followed by the chief guest’s speech. Then the participants gave their presentation successfully and got different reviews and compliments from other guests, which was very inspiring for the participants and as well as for the organizers. The program ended quite successfully, which was a considerable achievement for the organizers. Their four-month hard work paid off successfully. The environment had some mixed feelings. Some were emotional, some were happy, some were feeling satisfactory. But the president of AAEE was satisfied with the outcome and appreciated us, which made all the members very cheerful. It was the perfect ending of the program that could happen.
I, as an organizer, felt very different feelings throughout this whole journey—tension, excitement, nervousness, happiness, panicking emotions. But after the program ended, the last satisfactory overwhelming feeling got overpowered every other emotion. There is a saying that all’s well that ends well, so I can say it worked for this situation. I am grateful to all the other organizers and participants who worked hard to cooperate to execute the program successfully.
Student Assistant of AAEE, Bangladesh