"Voices of Bangladesh: The Journey to 50" is an Oral History initiative dedicated to shedding light on the often-overlooked roles and contributions of individuals who have played a pivotal part in shaping the narrative of Bangladesh over the past 50 years. This project's primary goal is to meticulously record and capture the diverse contributions made by various individuals in shaping Bangladesh's history, with a particular emphasis on the often marginalized voices of women and minority groups. It is worth noting that this remarkable endeavor has received the valuable support of the American Embassy in Dhaka and is being executed by the esteemed Bengal Foundation.
The significance of this project lies in its timing, as Bangladesh celebrated its 50th year of independence in 2021, and 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Bangladesh. To mark these momentous occasions, "Voices of Bangladesh: The Journey to 50" has undertaken the task of conducting interviews with notable Bangladeshi leaders, activists, and alumni of exchange programs. These interviews serve as a means to document and preserve their invaluable contributions in shaping Bangladesh's trajectory of development and fostering friendship with the United States.
Another essential aspect of this endeavor is its commitment to inclusivity. The project places a central focus on amplifying the voices, stories, and memories of women and other underrepresented communities, including indigenous groups. These contributions have often been omitted from conventional historical records, making this project all the more crucial in rectifying this oversight.
A total of 56 oral history videos have been meticulously recorded and are now accessible on our website. Our interviews encompassed a diverse range of perspectives, including those of freedom fighters, eyewitnesses, researchers, and alumni of exchange programs. We firmly believe that these videos will extend their reach to a broader audience and provide them with fresh insights into the liberation war and the subsequent journey of our nation.
In addition to recording the stories of these remarkable individuals, the project has taken a proactive approach to share their narratives and contributions. To engage the youth and disseminate this wealth of knowledge, a Traveling Library was established in five divisions across Bangladesh - Rajshahi, Khulna, Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet. This mobile library had an extensive collection of books, audio recordings, photographs, newspaper clippings regarding the liberation war and displays highlighting the enduring relationship between the United States and Bangladesh throughout the years.
Furthermore, the project has organized screenings of documentaries and movies related to the liberation war and hosted discussions featuring regional alumnies. It was a distinct honor for us to host distinguished individuals such as the renowned actor and Member of Parliament, Mr. Asaduzzaman Nur, as well as Ms. Sharlina Hussain-Morgan, the Director of Public Engagement at the US Embassy, who graced our seminars as guest speakers. Furthermore, we had the privilege of a visit from Ted Kennedy Jr., the son of the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who came to the Traveling Library with his family,along with Helen LaFave, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy.
Following our series of successful events throughout Bangladesh, we received invitations to further expand our initiative by participating in renowned events in the capital, including Dhaka Lit Fest and Gulshan Book Fair. These invitations provided us with a platform to expand the presence of our traveling library to a wider audience.
The Traveling Library has received a warm and enthusiastic response from people from all walks of life, particularly the youth. We have reached approx 40,000 people through the exhibition and prmotional communications. Their appreciation for the project's efforts to shine a spotlight on Bangladesh's journey has been both heartening and encouraging. Through "Voices of Bangladesh: The Journey to 50," the collective narrative of Bangladesh's history is being enriched and diversified, ensuring that the stories of all those who have contributed to its development are heard and celebrated.