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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

The Blessing of Education

Get ready to be inspired! Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Dr. Leslie Edgar, Associate Professor and Director of International Programs at the University of Arkansas, shares her thoughts after completing her assignment in Bangladesh: 

“Some days it is hard for me to count all the blessings I’ve been given. Today, was one of those days.

I’ve spent the past week in Dhaka, Bangladesh. During this time, I’ve missed my husband, children, family, friends, students, and colleagues. I’ve missed my home, farm, car, and the everyday conveniences I usually take for granted. I knew my time in Bangladesh would be short so one of my graduate students, Bo/David Williford, and I have worked hard to deliver a training for Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) principals and senior students enrolled at the IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, review the current agricultural communications curriculum used at the university, and prepare student informational seminars. Our work here has focused on improved communication and education strategies to improve agriculture in the country. Because of my responsibilities and time constraints, I haven’t had much time to reflect on the opportunity I’ve been given by Winrock International and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

However, that changed today. I’m not sure when it happened. It could have been the microbus (van) ride to the farm at the edge of Dhaka with Dr. Khan from IUBAT and some of his students. It could have been the walking time with students as they shared their passion for learning in a hands-on environment at the little farm on the edge of the city. It could have been the gift of the pumpkin from the farmer, his wife, and small daughter. The pumpkin they raised with the help of the students. The one they gave me, when I know without a doubt that the money they would have received from that pumpkin sale mattered to the livelihood of that little family. It could have been the excitement in the students’ voices and on their faces as they showed us their work, the thriving rice field, pumpkin and jute plants, the animals, the water system used to water their crops. Students so willing and eager to share what they have learned. The personal value they place on learning and their educations so prevalent, so moving, so humbling. I’m not sure what it was, but at some point during my farm tour today, between the smiles, visiting, and photos, I began to remember the value of my own education. The extreme gratitude I have for my parents who raised nine children in humble means, but who taught each of us the value of an education. My education faced many hiccups along the way, even from a young child, but that’s a story for another day. Today, I am grateful for the education I received in primary, secondary, post-secondary, and non-formal settings. For the opportunity I had to be raised in a family who valued education, and for the country where I received this quality education. I am grateful for a profession that allows me to use my education to teach others daily. Today, I am grateful for the chance I had to visit the little farm on the edge of Dhaka.

Today, I used my blessing of an education to make a difference in the lives of youth in Bangladesh! What did you use your education for today?”

img_4524img_4497Leslie Edgar in Bangladesh