A Glimpse of Bangladesh: Cox’s Bazaar, April 2018

With our team’s return from Bangladesh earlier this month, each team member came back full of life-changing stories and moments experienced during the trip. Today we not only get a glimpse of Bangladesh seen through the eyes of staff member Aino Palmer, but also a chance to read how time spent in Bangladesh has impacted her life.

My morning routine consists of approaching every day with an attitude of “anything can happen.” It’s uncomfortable to plan to have no plans, but I’m learning how this mindset is really the simplest way. I’m back in Bangladesh for the second time, fully immersed in a culture which is at first strange and foreign but grows on me until I begin to find little pockets of places in which I feel at home.

At first, there are stark differences everywhere I look and absolutely nothing feels familiar. But watching life move around me, I realize there’s really no difference between us. Our clothing, our environment, our modes of transportation, and our culture might look very different, but beneath all this are the little things and the ways we like to show our faces, I find us so alike. We are sisters, brothers, children, and parents; going to work and school and preparing dinner for our families. There’s love and hate, good days and bad days, unity and conflict between all of us.

I’m a firm believer that the world is our greatest teacher. Immersing yourself in a culture completely unlike your own will give you perspective unlike anything else. Despite our efforts to categorize ourselves as open-minded people, I still find myself susceptible to narrow-mindedness. The reality is we’ll always see our surroundings through the scope of our own worldview. Whether we want it or not, mindsets are shaped by our environment and circumstances. Every day, we get to choose to either see situations through lenses tinted by the preconceptions of our society, or decide to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Looking at a society and a people group through a microscope will only show you part of the picture. There is a right time to examine the details, but to choose to see the world through one single lens could potentially blind you to the beauty in what others might see as brokenness. Seeing Bangladesh through a different lens gave me room to find the bond all people have as human beings, giving me the chance to see the people I met as family rather than strangers, their houses as homes, and meals shared as true fellowship.

Bangladesh taught me more than I ever expected to learn from a single country. It’s the type of place that sneaks up on you and wins you over in a heartbeat. As they say, you might forget people and places but you’ll never forget how they made you feel.

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