I am Syeda Masuma Khanam, Senior Assistant Secretary, now working in the Ministry of Public Administration. I am one of the proud members of JDS 10th batch, and feel fortunate and blessed to get the opportunity to study in University of Tsukuba (UT), Japan. I went there in 2011 and came back in 2013.
My research topic was on empowering the rural women of Bangladesh for environmental conservation by educating them with environmental education. In the Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences in UT, the course curriculum was very organized. It opened a new door for me. I learned so much about environmental issues. I also took part in the Environmental Diplomatic Leadership (EDL) program. By taking part in that program, I learned about contemporary environmental issues and challenges. I learned how to negotiate in favor of a developing country such as Bangladesh with regard to environment related problems. The location of University of Tsukuba is very charming. In fact, Tsukuba is a university town built around UT. So green, organized, every classroom is well furnished and facilitated with modern equipments. Study room or ‘lab’ is nothing but a place for studying and sharing knowledge with fellow students.
My most favorite place in the university was the library. It has not only the latest versions of books, but also provides with the opportunity of studying online with more than ten libraries of the world. With my best friend Jie, I used to pick up books every week, study there, have lunch in the cafeteria, and enjoy coffee at the Star Bucks at the library. My lab and classrooms were in the Natural Science building, surrounded by cafeterias. They have so many varieties. As I do not know how to ride bicycle, I felt fortunate and relieved that the library and cafeterias were so near!! My supervisor Kenichi Matsui was very strict and kind. He was a good mentor.
I had Japanese classmates and made friendship with Kazuyo Nagahama. She had been so helpful. What I learned from my Japanese friends is to be committed to time and work. Japanese culture is the most aesthetic to me. The Japanese pay and show respect to nature. They are so disciplined, punctual, clean and devoted to work. The children learn about manners from the very beginning. I loved the Cherry Blossom very much.
My sons could not stay the whole time with me. They came to Japan for one and half months. We went to the Disneyland, Ueno zoo, Yokohama city, Hakone. They visited Japan in January, 2012. For the first time in their life they witnessed snowfall. It makes me happy to recall how much they enjoyed the train journey in Japan. They loved tempura and Japanese confectionary items. I badly miss ‘sushi’.
To be frank, the JDS authority took care of us so properly from the starting to the end. I never felt unattended or staying abroad. I am delighted to share how much honored did I feel when I was invited at the closing ceremony of the EDL program!! My husband did his PhD in the City University of Yokohama. Actually he encouraged me to study in Japan as he found Japan mostly secured and safe for a woman like me from a traditional and conservative background. He suggested me to choose University of Tsukuba, I am grateful to him as for him I got the chance to study in one of the most beautiful campuses. The Japanese know just the proper way of showing respect to other cultures. It is very safe for women. I miss eating out in different restaurants with my friend Jie in Tsukuba, to me, Tsukuba is my second hometown.
I conduct sessions in Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC) and Bangladesh Civil Service Administration Academy (BCSAA) to my junior colleagues. I am happy to report that I share my experience in Japan, and encourage them to study in Japan under JDS. I tell them they have so much to learn from Japanese about how to respect own culture and how to lead an organized life. I also request them to go there and experience the beauty of Japan. When my senior colleagues and the service recipients praise me for my sincerity and devotion, politeness and effort to give the best service, some of them ask “have you learnt such from Japan?” Very humbly but proudly, I say, yes!!